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Forensic Entomology Is The Scariest Job of 2010!

Forensic entomologists collect the flies, maggots and beetles that live off the dead. Because this is such a macabre profession, a job-search site, Carreercast.com, recently named this as the scariest profession of 2010. Forensic entomology edged out jobs such as, communication tower technician, bomb squad technician, crime scene decontamination technician and medical test subject.

John Wallace, of Millersville University, is one of 15 forensic entomologist in the world that is certified by the American Board of Forensic Entomology and he disagrees with their opinion. “To me, there are many scarier jobs,” said Wallace. “Bomb squad? Climbing a communications tower? I can’t see doing that. You can tempt fate only so often. What’s my risk? The person is already deceased.”

Everyone has seen the popular TV shows that focus on crime-scene investigation and how the show’s stars determine how long a person has been dead by using this science. But, forensic entomology has a lot of other uses, too.

A good example of another use of this science is when Wallace once helped a veterinarian. A client had made a claim that his dog contracted maggots while at the doctor’s clinic.

By determining the age of the maggots, Wallace was able to prove that the claim was false. This science is also useful in cases of elder abuse and food contamination.

One of Wallace’s students is working on wildlife entomology where she helps in cases of poaching or other conservation crimes. In fact, his student even developed a technique to isolate DNA in maggot tissue.

One case that got Wallace a lot of attention, in 2007,  involved Kennedy Brewer. Brewer was accused of murdering a 3 year old girl. He had been sentenced to death and the primary evidence were 19 sets of bite marks on the child’s body.

Mr. Brewer’s defense claimed that the bite marks were made by crayfish in the creek where the body was found after three days.

Wallace went to the crime scene and collected three dozen crayfish. He then put those in a tank, along with a dead pig. He found that the bite marks on the pig exactly matched the marks on the body. This evidence not only exonerated Brewer, but another man named Levon Brooks who had been sentenced to life in another homicide case. Fortunately, the police were able to later arrest Justin Albert Johnson, who confessed to both killings.

“I have seen some of the worst of humanity, and those images stay with you”, he said. “So, some might say that’s pretty scary. But, I just collect insects.”

Looking for an exciting career? There is a serious shortage of entomology students in our universities and if you’re not too “scared”, it could be a great job opportunity for you!