“Pre-law and pre-med students are often needing to distinguish themselves from the herd,” explained forensic sciences program director Trevor Stamper. His advice: stand out from your competition through forensic entomology.

Trevor Stamper teaching a course with a student in the foreground

“Purdue’s new concentration is unique,” said Stamper, “because it is the first formal area of concentration in forensic entomology ever worldwide. Nobody has ever done this before. There have been other classes taught in forensic entomology, but they’ve never had a formalized program that is entirely focused on it.”

Pre-law and pre-med students are only a few examples of those that could benefit from the new program. “This concentration would make students well-suited to be a crime-scene technician and would give them an advantage because they would have the ability to take the American Board of Forensic Entomology technician certification as they graduate.” Stamper continued, “It also makes an excellent entomologist. It’s a very versatile area of concentration.

Students investigate an example crime scene in the snow with a van
Student investigates the ground at a test crime scene in the snow

Stamper, who was deeply involved in the establishment of the new concentration, is excited to see years of planning come to fruition. “I was part of the team that recently redesigned the Insect Biology major. At the same time, we began conversations about what a new area of concentration might look like. It was my job to plan the next steps. As the new Insect Biology major was taking shape, I was making notes on how we could transform it with an area of concentration.”

He continued, “We teach many classes in forensic science that have very little entomology in them, but there’s a ton of entomology that is forensic in nature. We’re now highlighting that with a new series of forensic entomology core courses.”

Stamper adds his advice about the best students for the program, “The students who do really well in this type of program are those that are detail oriented, passionate about forensic science or entomology, and don’t mind getting their hands wet.”

Students standing in and around the Forensic Entomology Research Compound

“Students can start as a sophomore or even a freshman without any previous entomology courses. Through the courses, they are exposed to urban, stored-product, medicolegal, medical and veterinary entomology. They can actually go into any of those sub-disciplines. Purdue has world experts in each of them. Those types of jobs are very well-paying and are in high demand.”

Stamper points out a finger print on a bottle of Coke
Stamper setting up an example near a dumpster by campus

“We have a long history of forensic entomology in Indiana. Our state is actually a leader in the field in producing world-famous entomologists such as my predecessor Ralph Williams and his student Neal Haskell.” Stamper expects the new courses will continue the tradition.

Photos by Tom Campbell

View of Trevor Stamper and student from behind glass of machine