Associate Director


B. Sc. Honours Zoology (Manchester University); M.P.M., Ph.D. (Simon Fraser University)




Photo by Marianne Meadahl, SFU Media & Public Relations



Current Research Interests: forensic science, forensic entomology with particular emphasis on carrion ecology, medical and veterinary entomology


To Contact me:

Dr. Gail Anderson

School of Criminology

Simon Fraser University

8888 University Drive

Burnaby, B.C.

V5A 1S6


Phone:(778) 782-3589 or(778) 782-6662








††††††††††† This course will examine the use and interpretation of physical forensic evidence in court.It will critically examine and evaluate the major forensic sciences used in criminal investigation today, as well as look at the crime scene.Subjects examined will include victim identification, mode, manner cause of death, crime scene analysis, forensic biology, DNA evidence, firearms evidence, toxicology, chemistry and questioned documents.



††††††††††† Independent readings in a selected field of study usually in forensic science, police work, crime scenes, psychological profiling, ViCLAS, serial crime analysis etc.


This course will examine possible biological factors that could result in a predisposition towards criminal behavior. These include not only the genetic factors that affect behaviour and therefore, could potentially predispose towards crime, but also biochemical, neurological, nutritive and accidental effects, such as head injuries. This course will look critically at all evidence both for and against any possible biological predispositionís for criminogenic behaviours, together with the interaction with the environment. In particular, moral and ethical issues will be considered and debated.



††††††††††† This course looks at advanced techniques in forensic science, in particular those that may be new and/or controversial. The course will include a hands-on analysis of a mock crime scene, and look at areas such as entomology, pathology, polygraph, odontology, profiling, wildlife crimes, drowning deaths, cadaver recovery, mass disaster management.



††††††††††††††† I regularly supervise three month field practicum in selected criminal justice agencies.Students are required to complete a series of reports addressing theoretical and practical issues relating to their placement as well as to attend regular feedback seminar discussions with faculty supervisors and other field practicum students. Placements under me usually in policing, victim assistance, profiling, ViCLAS, homicide squad.



††††††††††† Advanced independent readings and project in fields of forensic science, police work, crime scenes, psychological profiling, ViCLAS, serial crime analysis etc.


††††††††††† An honours thesis is a research report written under the supervision of a faculty member, a copy of which is to be permanently lodged in both the University library and the School of Criminology.Students are required to attend a weekly seminar at which various issues associated with the linking of theory and method are examined and where students can both discuss progress and share their research experiences.




(Graduate and Undergraduate Students)



Manya Buchan†††††††††††††††††††††††† Time since death:An evaluation of current methods employed by forensic science to establish the length of the post-mortem interval (Completed 2000, presently graduate student)



Amanda Ward††††††††††††††††††††††††† Evidentiary use of biological disorder:Ethics and justice (Completed 2000)



Master of Arts


Melanie Marchand††††††††††††††††††† Primary and secondary offences in the DNA Databank in Canada (in progress)


Amanda Ward††††††††††††††††††††††††† Head injury, and its possible role in the criminal justice system (in progress)


Linnea Duke ††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Entomotoxicology (in progress)



Master of Pest Management

Niki Hobischak††††††††††††††††††††††† Freshwater invertebrate succession and decompositional studies on carrion in British Columbia (Completed 1997, presently Research Coordinator, Forensic Entomology Lab)


Sherah VanLaerhoven††††††††††††† Successional biodiversity in insect species on buried carrion in the Vancouver and Cariboo regions of British Columbia (Completed 1997, Ph.D. University of Arizona, presently NSERC Post-Doc, Agriculture and Agri-foods Canada).



Master ofScience

Leigh Dillon††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Insect succession on carrion in three biogeoclimatic zones of British Columbia (Completed 1997, presently Coroner)


Barbara Brandt†††††††††††††††††††††††† Decomposition and insect ecology of carrion in Saskatchewan (At University of Saskatchewan, under completion).


Ginger Gill††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Carrion ecology in forested regions of Manitoba and determination of time since death (At University of Manitoba, under completion).








Many bodies are found in the marine environment and there is presently almost no methods for determining time since death in such cases. It is probable that arthropod colonization, together with decomposition rates may be used to determine times since death in bodies from the marine environment.
Photo by Marianne Meadahl, SFU Media & Public Relations



A project to study carrion in forest and grassland prairie region began in the Spring of 1997 in Edmonton, Alberta and is a collaboration with Dr. Owen Beattie, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Alberta. A study in the forested prairie region began the Spring of 1998 and is a collaboration with Dr. Terry Galloway, Dept. of Entomology, University of Manitoba. Insect Succession on carrion in Grassland Prairie Region began in May 1999 and is being conducted in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. This work is being done in collaboration with Dr. Ernie Walker, Dept. of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Insect Succession on carrion in Maritime Region is presently still under application and will be conducted in the future.



††††††††††† This was a major interdisciplinary study of the pre-contact remains of a First Nations individual found recently in Northern BC.These remains represent an historic find for Canadian scientists, and provide a singular case for entomological research.



††††††††††† The Niagara Police in conjunction with Dr. Anderson are interested in studying the effects of submergence in large bodies of glacial freshwater.This project focuses on faunal colonization and is modelled after the marine experiments in B.C.Pig carcasses will be placed at various depths, sampled and video taped for later analysis.



††††††††††† The objectives of this project are to develop a database for establishing time of death of killed wildlife, to determine whether a wildlife animal was killed out of season, and in turn aid in the apprehension and successful conviction of a suspect.Once this insect development on wildlife database is obtained, entomological education and training for conservation authorities will be a priority.




The Forensic Entomology Laboratory at Simon Fraser University was completed September 2000 thanks to funding from the B.C. Proceeds of Crime and SFU.The 1000 square foot facility is divided into five areas:a computer lab, storage space, secure facility, an incubation area, and main laboratory space.The goal of this facility is to provide a context for excellent and innovative research, supportive collaborative partnerships in Entomology and Forensics here and abroad, and create a focal point for research and training in the area of Forensic Entomology in Canada. This lab provides a venue for training at a variety of levels, from technical staff to undergraduate students, graduate students to criminology professionals.Some of the current topics being explored:



†††††††††† As research is conducted, a tremendous amount of data is generated involving hundreds of insect species in a variety of habitats, seasons and biogeoclimatic zones.The lab will provide the computer database for easy retrieval and cross-referencing in case analysis.



Insect development is temperature-dependent and can be predicted if the ambient temperatures are known.However, maggots create their own environment, increasing the temperature of the corpse by their own activity.As maggots move continuously in and out of the mass, the actual temperature at which the insects are developing is unknown and controversial, so it must be determined. Also, effects of fluctuation temperatures, such as those seen in diurnal variation, are unknown.



Various behaviours of insects, such as distance travelled from remains, possibility of cross-over from nearby carrion, time that larvae leave the remains in relationship to the maggot mass formation, all need further study.



This lab enables the assessment of specimens for identification and for generation of the framework for classification criteria and systematic analysis.One of the goals is to create the identification keys for early development stages of Diptera.



In British Columbia, the use of drugs, legal and illegal, is widespread.Frequently, homicide victims have used drugs.Most do not die from drugs but have a chronic level in their blood system.Insect development is disrupted and altered by drug use.It is therefore important to quantify the effects of drug use at a variety of user levels, focusing on drugs common to B.C.



A collaboration with Dr. Ronald Sherman (UC Irvine) is planned to establish a research program to compare the development and life-cycles of blow flies in living flesh with those raised on dead tissue. (Dr. Sherman) is a pioneer in the use of maggots in medicine to debride wounds.




Dr. Andersonís earlier research was in the field of medical and veterinary entomology and studied an allergic disease in horses, colloquially referred to as "sweet itch". This is a serious, chronic recurrent disease of horses in the temperate world which affects a large percentage of horses, and causes economic loss and great stress to afflicted animals. I determined the causal agent of this disease, conducted a population study of the insect causal agent, determined that the causal allergen was common to a number of native and exotic biting fly species and developed a successful treatment method for the disease using immunotherapy techniques. I finally identified the putative causal agent, with the hope that this may be developed further into a commercial treatment.





VanLaerhoven, S.L. and Anderson, G.S. Community structure and successional patterns of diversity of insect fauna on buried carrion in two biogeoclimatic zones in British Columbia. The Canadian Entomologist. (submitted).


VanLaerhoven, S.L. and Anderson, G.S. Implications of using development rates of blowfly (Diptera:Calliphoridae) eggs to determine postmortem interval.J. Entomol. Soc. B.C. (In press).


Petrik, M.S., Hobischak, N.R. and Anderson, G.S. 2004. Examination of factors surrounding human decomposition in freshwater: A review of body recoveries and coroner cases in British Columbia. Can. Soc. Forensic Sci. J. 37(1): 9-17.


Hobischak N.R. and Anderson, G.S. Time of submergence using aquatic invertebrate succession and decompositional changes in British Columbia.Journal of Forensic Sciences.(In press Ė Jan. 2002).


Buchan, M and Anderson, G.S.2001.A review of the current status of methods used in the later postmortem interval to determine time since death.Can. Soc. Forensic Sci. J. 34(1):1-22.


Anderson, G.S. 2000. Minimum and maximum developmental rates of some forensically important Calliphoridae (Diptera).J. Forensic Sci. 45(2):824-832.


Anderson, G.S. 1999. The use of insects to determine time of death in illegally killed black bears.Journal of Forensic Sciences. 44(4): 843-846.


Hobischak, N.R. and Anderson, G.S. 1999. Freshwater-related death investigations in British Columbia in 1995-1996. A review of coroners cases. Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences Journal.


Pretty, I.A., Anderson, G.S., and Sweet, D.J.1999.Human bites and the risk of HIV transmission.Am. J. Forensic Med. Path. 20(3):232-239.


VanLaerhoven, S.L. and Anderson, G.S. 1999. Insect succession on buried carrion in two biogeoclimatic zones of British Columbia. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 44: 31-41.

Anderson, G.S. 1997. The use of insects to determine time of decapitation: a case-study from British Columbia.Journal of Forensic Sciences. 42(5): 947-950.


Anderson, G.S. and S. L. VanLaerhoven. 1996. Initial observations on insect succession on carrion in British Columbia. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 41(4): 613-621.


Johl, H.K. and Anderson, G.S. 1996. Initial observations on effects of refrigeration on Calliphora vicina Robineau-Desvoidy (Diptera: Calliphoridae) development and the relationship to time of death determinations. Journal of the Entomological. Society of British Columbia. 93: 93-98.


Anderson, G.S. 1995. The use of insects in death investigations: an analysis of forensic entomology cases in British Columbia over a five year period. Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal 28(4): 277-292.


Sperling, F.A.H., G.S. Anderson and D.A. Hickey. 1994. A DNA-based approach to identification of insect species used for post-mortem interval estimation. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 39: 418-427.


Anderson, G.S., Belton, P., and Keider, N.1993.Hypersensitivity of horses in British Columbia to extracts of native and exotic species of Culicoides (Diptera:Ceratopogonidae).J. Medical Entomology 30:657-663.


Anderson, G.S., Belton, P., and Belton, E.M.1993.A population study of Culicoides obsoletus Meigen (Diptera:Ceratopogonidae) and other Culicoides species in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia.Canadian Entomologist 125:439-447.


Skinner, M.F. and G.S. Anderson. 1991. Individualization and enamel histology: case report in forensic anthropology. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 36 : 939-948.


Anderson, G.S., Belton, P., and Kleider N.1991.Culicoides obsoletus as a causal agent of Culicoides hypersensitivity (sweet itch) in horses in British Columbia.J. Med. Entomol. 28:685-693.


Anderson, G.S., Belton, P., and Kleider N.1988.The hypersensitivity of horses to Culicoides bites in British Columbia.Can. Vet. J. 29:718-723.


Belton, P., Anderson, G.S., and St. Hilaire, G.L.1986.A record of the Surinam cockroach in Vancouver.J. Entomol. Soc. Brit. Col. 89:73-74.





Anderson, G.S. and Cervenka, V.J.2001. Insects associated with the body:Their use and analyses IN Modern Methods in Forensic Taphonomy.Haglund, W. and Sorg,

M. (Eds.)CRC Press. (Invited).


Anderson, G.S. 2000. Insect Succession on carrion and its relationship to determining time since death. IN Forensic Entomology: The utility of arthropods in legal investigations. Castner, E and Byrd, J. (Eds.) CRC Press. (Invited).


Anderson, G.S. 1999. Forensic Entomology in Death Investigations. IN Forensic Anthropology Case Studies from Canada. Fairgreave, S. Editor, Charles C. Thomas. (Invited).


Anderson, G.S. 1995. Insect Collection to Determine Time of Death. IN A Guide to Evidence Collection and Preservation for Conservation Officers, Strozdas, D. Ed.

Lestina, R. Oklahoma. (Invited).