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Madison Laprise, Theresa TranMadison Laprise and Theresa Tran won awards for their presentations at the annual conference of the North American Forensic Entomology Association.

Grad students win recognition for research presentations

Two UWindsor graduate students of integrative biology beat out competitors from around the globe at the North American Forensic Entomology Association’s annual international conference to win two out of three awards for best graduate presentations at the Master’s level.

Theresa Tran (BSc 2018) and Madison Laprise presented at the 2020 conference, hosted virtually out of Texas A&M University, along with presenters and attendees taking part online from across Canada, USA, Australia, and Singapore.

Tran presented her talk “Variation in Oviposition Behaviour of Blow Flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) due to Abiotic and Biotic Factors.”

“My research involves evaluating the effect of relative humidity on the egg-laying behaviour of three local blow fly species when given a choice of where to lay on a temperature gradient.” says Tran.

“I am focusing on humidity because there is little research looking into humidity as a factor that affects the behaviour of blow flies and I’m hoping my project can answer some questions that can be applied to forensic science, as well as thermal and behavioural insect ecology.”

Laprise’s presentation, titled “Are carrion resources as scarce as we think?”, looks at using geospatial technology to predict the availability of decaying flesh in Essex County based on land-use attributes. She says this allows her to trap blow flies across a spatial and temporal scale, employing this land-use gradient.

“Carrion is a spatially patchy and rare resource for flies, making it difficult to predict in space and time. Essentially, I’ve created a map model that helps break down these barriers and bring some of these predictors to light,” says Laprise.

Their research in forensic entomology will provide further insight into blow fly habitat preferences and locations, thus furthering the scope of knowledge when looking at time and location of death in medico-legal investigations, says professor Sherah VanLaerhoven.

She says she’s extremely proud of the two for this international recognition of the quality of their research.

“Only three students were awarded top presentation awards at this conference, so for University of Windsor to take home two of the three awards is incredible,” says Dr. VanLaerhoven.

“It is fantastic to see Madison and Theresa's hard work be rewarded by the academic and applied community, especially during these challenging times.”

—Sara Elliott