Research, Criminology

Bad Guys, Good Bugs: Criminology's Gail Anderson on Forensic Entomology

October 26, 2015

It was the late 1980s and Dr. Gail Anderson was close to finishing her PhD in pest management at SFU. But she was frustrated—her recent discovery of a cure for a minor yet common horse disease hadn’t gained any commercial interest. Around the same time, her biological sciences professor Dr. John Borden suggested Anderson’s bug expertise to police who were working on a local homicide case. She was struck by the immediate usefulness of forensic entomology—that research done in the lab one day could be used in court weeks later as hard evidence.

And so, she took a sideways step along the entomology career spectrum. “I had always wanted to do something useful with my knowledge of insects,” says the British-born professor. “And then John presented me with this opportunity and I thought: what could be more useful than helping police solve crimes and catch bad guys?” Not long after, she went on to become the first full-time forensic entomologist in Canada.