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Forensic acarology: the importance of mites in forensic investigations


   Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This project involves the study of mites (Acari) in their role as useful markers in forensic investigations. 

The utility/contribution of mites in criminal investigations goes beyond crime scene investigations with dead bodies, and addresses, for example,  illegal trade, and human and animal neglect, among other topics.  We are particularly interested in investigating the role of mites in the process of decomposition of corpses and carcasses exposed to different environmental conditions; aiming to understand translocation of cadavers, burials at different depths and wrapping or concealment. 

*Candidates must have  i) knowledge of arthropods, (i.e., biology and taxonomy of at least one group), ii) basic concepts of genetics, and iii) experience in numerical analyses.  These topics will be further developed during the scholarship, with research carried out in the lab, curating forensic related collection/s, in forensic research settings or facilities, in house or abroad (e.g., taphonomy centres). 

Keywords: acari, entomology, forensics, crime, CSI, biology, neglect, abuse, death, PMI, post-mortem, insects, mite 

School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading: 

The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport.   

Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet.  Our research ranges from understanding and improving human health and combating disease, through to understanding evolutionary processes and uncovering new ways to protect the natural world.  In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching.  It houses the Cole Museum of Zoology, a café and social spaces. 

In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities. 

During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. You will have access to cutting-edge technology and learn the latest research techniques.  We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills. 

The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures.  We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically. 

Eligibility: 

Applicants should have a good degree (minimum of a UK Upper Second (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent) in Biology, Anthropology, Entomology, Forensic Sciences or a strongly-related discipline (please see more details on experience in (*) in Project Overview).  Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements. 

How to apply: 

Submit an application for a PhD in Biological Sciences at http://www.reading.ac.uk/pgapply

Further information: 

http://www.reading.ac.uk/biologicalsciences/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/PhD/sbs-phd.aspx 


Funding Notes

We welcome applications from self-funded students worldwide for this project.
If you are applying to an international funding scheme, we encourage you to get in contact as we may be able to support you in your application.

References

Perotti, M.A. and H.R. Braig. 2020. Acarology in crimino-legal investigations: the human acarofauna during life and death. In Forensic Entomology: The utility of arthropods in legal investigations. Ed. by J. Tomberlin and J.H. Byrd. CRC. NY
Perotti M.A., H.R Braig and L.M. Goff. 2010. Phoretic mites and carcasses. In Current Concepts in Forensic Entomology: Novel Arthropods, Environments and Geographical Regions. Ed. by J. Amendt, C.P. Campobasso, M. Grassberger, and M.L. Goff. Springer, NY.
Frost, C., H. Braig, J. Amends and M.A. Perotti. 2010. Indoor arthropods of forensic importance. In Current Concepts in Forensic Entomology: Novel Arthropods, Environments and Geographical Regions. Ed. by J. Amendt, C.P. Campobasso, M. Grassberger, and M.L. Goff. Springer, NY.
Perotti, M.A., L.M. Goff, A.S. Baker, B.D. Turner and H.R. Braig. 2009. Forensic acarology. Experimental & Applied Acarology, 49:3-13.
Braig H.R and M.A. Perotti. 2009. Carcasses and mites. Experimental & Applied Acarology. 49:45-84.
Perotti M.A. and H.R. Braig. 2009. Phoretic mites associated with animal and human decomposition. Experimental & Applied Acarology. 49:85-124.

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