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News and Announcements

January 2016  — Dr. Benbow and Dr. Pechal were part of a feature story in The New York Times Magazine - "The Living Dead". This story covered the ongoing NIJ funded work in collaboration n collaboration with  Dr. Carl Schmidt at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office and Dr. Heather Jordan at Mississippi State University. 


August 2015  — Dr. Benbow co-edited the book "Carrion Ecology, Evolution, and Their Applications", and it is now available for ordering at the following link:


"I found each of the chapters to be well-written. The editors succeeded in compiling much of the history, current state, and future of forensic entomology and its related fields for this book. Overall, I found Forensic Entomology: International Dimensions and Frontiers to be very informative. It is an overview of the state-of-the-art of forensic sciences related to medicolegal entomology. Anyone interested in studying forensic entomology could glean a great deal (the good and the bad) from reading this book."

—Susan V. Gruner, University of Florida, in Florida Entomologist

July 2015  — Dr. Benbow (co-PI) was award a USFS Forest Health Monitoring Program, Evaluation Monitoring grant in collaboration with Dr. Deborah McCullough a three-year grant ($126,000) was awarded in support of the project: “Conditions of riparian forest corridors invaded by Emerald Ash Borer.”


May 2015   Congratulations to Courtney Larson for being awarded the Gordon Guyer Endowed Fellowship in Aquatic Entomology and a Hutson Endowment Research Proposal, and congratulations to Courtney Weatherbee for being the Bug House Volunteer of the Year!!

March 2015   Dr. Benbow co-edited the book "Forensic Entomology: International Dimensions and Frontiers" with Dr. Jeffery K. Tomberlin, and it is now available for ordering at the following link: 

Hope everyone enjoys this excellent book about forensic entomology! 


September 2014 — Dr. Pechal and Dr. Benbow have been awarded a Lucas Research Grant through the The Forensic Sciences Foundation, Inc., American Academy of Forensic Sciences in collaboration with  Dr. Carl Schmidt at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office (Detroit, MI).

September 2014 — Dr. Benbow (co-PI) and Dr. Pechal (collaborator) have been award a National Institute of Justice grant to study the postmortem microbiology in human cadavers.  In collaboration with Dr. Heather Jordan at Mississippi State University and Dr. Carl Schmidt at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office (Detroit, MI), a three-year grant ($843,000) was awarded in support of the project: “Utilization of microbial structure and function in investigations of criminal justice.”

This project will expand studies of the postmortem microbiome by partnering with a major, metropolitan city's medical examiner's office to sample and analyze, using next-generation sequencing and imaging technology, bacterial communities from six anatomical areas of at least 200 human cadavers to maximize demographic sampling and representation, several different manners of death, and postmortem intervals (PMIs). In another novel series of transformative controlled laboratory studies using fluorescently labeled bacteria in vertebrate models, we will describe how the microbiome of a living host changes and translocates within the body after death - linking the microbiome of a living being to the postmortem microbiome changes, which have demonstrated such promise as usable evidence in criminal investigations. Data obtained will significantly further investigations identifying specific microbial taxa or metabolic signatures for potential use in quantifiable measurements of PMI estimates used in forensic science (


June 2014 — Drs. Benbow and Pechal traveled to China in early June to give seminars about insect-microbe interactions at five different agricultural universities and institutes. This trip was an excellent opportunity for six U.S. researchers, Dr. Jeffery Tomberlin (Texas A&M University), Ms. Meaghan Pimsler (Texas A&M University), Dr. Heather Jordan (Mississippi State University), and Dr. Christine Picard (IUPUI), to interact with Chinese researchers and establish future research collaborations. For more information about the visit to the College of Agriculture & Biotechnology at Zhejiang University please see:

May 2014 — Scooter Nowak was awarded the Gordon E. Guyer Fellowship in Aquatic Entomology. Congratulations, Scoot!

April 2014 — Dr. Benbow and University of Dayton assistant professor Dr. Ryan McEwan were awarded a three-year, half-million dollar National Science Foundation grant for the support of their project, “A mechanistic framework for bottom-up biodiversity effects: riparian forest invasion impacts on headwater stream microbial and macroinvertebrate communities.” For full announcement please visit the MSU Department of Entomology website at


February 2014 — Drs. Benbow and Pechal were invited speakers and participates in the 66th American Academy of Forensic Science Annual Meeting held on 17-22 February in Seattle, WA. Dr. Benbow co-organized a workshop titled "Forensic Microbiology: Where Do We Begin?", which had 40 participants from five countries, as the application of microbiology to investigations of decomposing human remains has now become a major area of research within the forensic community. The workshop covered microorganisms and their roles in forensic science with presentations focusing on the application of microbiology to investigations of decomposing human remains. Presently, researchers are deciphering bacterial communities associated with human remains in order to estimate 1) postmortem interval, 2) geographic origins based on microbial biogeography of living human populations, and 3) the use of narcotics or poisons prior to death; the topics covered during this workshop impacted the forensic science community by providing current knowledge and techniques for analyzing microbial communities.   

Drs. Benbow and Pechal were also invited to participate in a special section within Pathology/Biology: "Microbes". This afternoon session had 12 oral presentations that covered topics related to forensic microbiology ranging from "Collecting Microbiological Evidence From Cadavers: Techniques and Implications of Using Bacterial Communities in Decomposition Estimates" to "An Initial Assessment of the Structure and Function of the Postmortem Human Microbiome: Forensic Applications". 


January 2014 — Dr. Benbow is serving on the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council Committee as an appointed member to to Review the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program during 2014. The committee’s next meeting will be held during May in San Antonio, Texas.

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Published Books

"International Dimensions and Frontiers in Forensic Entomology" by Jeffery K. Tomberlin and M. Eric Benbow (Editors), CRC Press, March 2015


"Carrion Ecology, Evolution, and Their Applications", M. Eric Benbow, Jeffery K. Tomberlin, and Aaron M. Tarone (Editors), CRC Press, August 2015