Seminar Series

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 3:30 PM

Presentation Studio at SFU’s Big Data Hub


Dr. Rolf Mathewes, Biological Sciences, SFU

Flower Power: Experiences in Forensic Botany

Since 1986, I have become involved in criminal and other legal investigations, using macroscopic plant remains and microscopic pollen and spores as trace evidence in homicides and other cases.  My academic background in paleobotany and paleoecology had preadapted me for working with fragmented and rare plant parts that sometimes turn up in police investigations.   I will review some basic principles and history of forensic botany, and then focus on my experiences with some real local cases in British Columbia.  My “signature case” is the murder of Heather Thomas in 2000 in Cloverdale, and the role of plant evidence in convicting the murderer.   The seminar will conclude with three 5-minute television broadcasts on consecutive evenings during Global TV news that nicely summarize the history of this case and the role of plant evidence in the conviction. 

For more information: