April 29, 2019 at 1:02 pm

Perez Consults on Forensic Entomology, Leads Peer Learning

Anna Perez , portrait

Dr. Anna Perez

By Kelly Shockley ’19

Dr. Anne Perez, Lecturer of Biological Sciences, is one of about 50 forensic entomologists in the country, often serving as an expert witness.

At Ohio University, Perez teaches both Introduction to Human Biology and Introduction to Cellular Molecular Biology.

She studied forensic entomology as an undergraduate student at Ohio State and earned a Ph.D. in Biology at West Virginia University.

Dr. Perez consults with the Lake County Coroner's office.

Dr. Perez consults with the Lake County Coroner’s office.

Consulting on Investigations

“My research has been in succession, which is just the change in insect composition over time on dead things,” says Perez, who performs forensic entomology consulting as an expert witness. She works with investigators to determine how long a body has been dead, for example.

“I have written reports and gone to crime scenes to collect (evidence) or have been brought evidence around 15 times,” Perez notes. She has traveled all around to Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana to help investigators gain essential knowledge.

“I look at the insects that come to dead things, and I look at the ecological aspects of those insects. I look at how those insects interact with each other, which affects when they are going to be on the body and when they are not. I also study the development of those insects. A lot of adult insects come to the body to lay an egg, which helps give an estimate of some part of the timeline of how long the animal has been dead.”

Students study in a Peer-Led Team Learning setting.

Students study in a Peer-Led Team Learning setting.

Coordinating Peer-Led Team Learning

Not only does she do research, Perez also uses her expertise to help current undergraduate Biological Sciences students. She coordinates the Peer-Led Team Learning program that goes along with the Cellular Molecular Biology course she teaches. This program allows current students enrolled in the class to learn from previous students who did well in the class.

Perez says many students now leading the team learning effort are students who overcame their struggles in the class. “They realize that other students need help and they want to help current students get through the class if they are having a tough time.” Not only does this class help students to learn the course material, it also counts for a credit hour.

“Students are new to being in college. It’s a hard class, and they need a lot of foundation to gain the information to help them throughout the rest of their biology career,” Perez says. “They need help understanding how to study and the level of knowledge that you need of the information that you’re given, and how you can apply it. You might not have been asked to go out of that comfort zone in high school, so it helps in that transitional help.”

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