Research Areas

students completing research

The Hans lab focuses on forensic entomology, which is the use of insect evidence in investigations. Our research examines the behavior and development of forensically relevant insects on decomposing remains, and explores the numerous factors that can affect the rate of decomposition, the arrival of insects, colonization of the remains by insects and the development of the insects on and around the remains. Dr. Hans also examines student learning in forensic science and incorporates cold case investigations, trauma informed education and the influence of the CSI effect into her courses and research.


Blow Fly Behavior

Blow flies are one of the first arrivers to remains. Understanding how the environment and other species impact the behavior of blow flies is helpful for death investigations. Current research is examining the influence of pesticides, temperature, and concealment of remains on blow fly behavior.

 Dr. Hans demonstrating insect evidence for students


Larval Development

The development of larvae can be impacted by numerous factors, including temperature, species interactions, food sources or other substances that are present in the environment. Research in the Hans lab examines how different foods, or household chemicals influence the development rate, survival and adult size of blow flies and flesh flies.

maggot mass during research project


Student Learning in Forensic Science

Dr. Hans is actively involved in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Her interests are in student perceptions of forensic science and the influence of the media, trauma-informed education practices, and student learning with cold case investigations. Dr. Hans provides students with a real-world application of forensic science as they complete projects related to cold case investigations. The concepts of research, information literacy, and data visualization are highlighted in the student projects, where students learn about the ethical concepts of digital detective work, the value of collective impact, and the importance of inclusive victimology. Dr. Hans organized a Cold Case Symposium to raise awareness, showcase student work, and bring together families, organizations, students, educators and the community to assist families impacted by unresolved cases.


Learn More about Research in the Hans Lab from the Purdue University College of Agriculture Visionaries program blog and video.




Bagsby, K., Byrd, J., Stern, A. and K.R. Hans. 2024. Initial blow fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) colonization of cats (Felis catus) in Indiana. Journal of Medical Entomology, https://org/10.1093/jme/tjad170

Jeong, Y., Weidner, L.M., Pergande, S., Gemmellaro, D., Jennings, D.E. and K.R. Hans. 2022. Biodiversity of forensically relevant blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) at the Anthropology Research Facility in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. Insects 13(109),

Weidner, L.M., Byrd, J., Sutton, L. and K.R. Hans. Forensic Entomology: An introduction to the literature of the United States. WIRES Forensic Science, 3(5), e1435.

Weidner, L., Meeds, A., Noblesse, A. and K.R. Hans. A review of forensic entomology literature in the Southwestern United States. WIRES Forensic Science, 3(5), e1421.

Hans, K.R. and S.L. VanLaerhoven. 2021. The impact of comingled heterospecific assemblages on developmentally-based estimates of the post-mortem interval- a study with Lucilia sericata (Meigen), Phormia regina (Meigen) and Calliphora vicina Robineau-Desvoidy (Diptera: Calliphoridae). Insects 12(4), 280.

Parrotta, K., Bergquist, A. and K.R. Hans. 2021. Student perspectives on trauma-informed education practices in criminal justice and forensic science. Journal of Criminal Justice Education.

Hans, K.R., Yoho, K., Parrott, J.J., and L.M. Weidner. 2021. A review of the forensic entomology literature in the Mountain Prairie region of the United States. WIRES Forensic Science, 3(5), e1412.

Hans, K.R., Yoho, K., Robbins, H., and L.M. Weidner. 2021. A review of forensic entomology literature in the Midwestern United States. WIRES Forensic Science, 3(5), e1424.

Weidner, L.M. and K.R. Hans. 2021. A review of forensic entomology literature in the Northeastern United States. WIRES Forensic Science, 3(5), e1402.

Hans, K.R. and K. Parrotta. 2021. "'The Errors are Egregious': Assessing the CSI Effect and Undergraduate Students' Perceptions of Forensic Science through a Pre- and Post-Test Investigation." Pp. (149-172) in Mass Mediated Representations of Crime and Criminality. Vol. 23, Studies in Media and Communications, edited by J.B. Wiest. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Weidner, L.M., Nigoghosian, G., Yoho, K.C., Parrott, J.J. and K.R. Hans. 2020. An analysis of forensically important insects associated with human remains in Indiana, U.S.A. Journal of Forensic Sciences 65(6), doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.14531