Main speakers

Dr. lr. Frederike Quaak 

Dr. Ir. Frederike Quaak obtained a MSc degree in Life Science and Technology at the University of Leiden and the Delft University of Technology in 2006. She started her career in forensic science at the Netherlands Forensic Institute as a researcher at the Non-Human Biological Traces group. In 2018 she received her PhD in forensic microbiology at the University of Amsterdam with the thesis entitled “Microbial populations and their potential in forensic investigations”. She is specialized in microbial population analysis, both in soil and the human microbiome, and in interpreting the results in a forensic context in a variety of criminal cases.

Microbial populations as evidence in criminal investigations

Microbial populations are receiving a growing interest from the forensic community. Due to the high abundance of microbes, and their diversity in different habitats, they are an interesting tool to classify samples and perform forensic comparisons. Relevant habitats include different sites of the human body, and environmental habitats such as soil samples. Technological advances in DNA analysis create the opportunity to obtain more information from these complex communities.

In an increasing number of cases, not only the donor of a trace, but also the action which could have led to the deposition of the trace needs to be addressed by forensic experts. The differences between microbial communities in and on the human body can be used to determine the origin of human epithelial cell material. This can be very useful in sexual assault case investigations for example to determine whether contact with the vaginal or the faecal microbiome has occurred. Additionally, when analysing faecal material, linking a trace to a donor based on the microbiome is a possibility. Differences in the composition of the microbial population between individuals enable forensic application of this microbiome. Several case examples will be presented to illustrate the application of human microbiome profiling in casework. Additionally, the application of soil microbial population analysis in regular casework will be illustrated by case examples.

PhD Lena Lutz

My name is Lena Lutz, 32, and I am currently working in the Institute of Legal Medicine Frankfurt as forensic entomologist. I work in this field since 2014. My job consist both of case work (writing reports for the police) and research in the field of forensic entomology. My major research topics are: the use of temperature in forensic entomological case work, prediction models for the flight and oviposition activity of necrophagous insects, and a cooperation between applied and basic research.

How insects can be used in legal investigations

The use of insects in legal investigations, forensic entomology (FE), is still a fairly young discipline in the forensic sciences. However, since the beginning of the 20th century, it has experienced a resurgence, and FE is now considered as one of the most accurate methods used to establish the time since death in the later postmortem interval. It is more and more recognized and accepted in casework and law enforcement as entomological reports are currently an integral part of court proceedings in many countries worldwide. Next to the main purpose of FE, the estimation of the PMI min, insect evidence can be applied to many more areas and questions, such as giving hints for cadaver relocation or crime scene manipulation, to clarify intoxication of the deceased during life time and to find hints for negligence, i.e. insect infestation prior to the person death.

All these different application areas, the development of new techniques for insect evidence analysis, and the positive development of FE worldwide in the last decades paint the picture of a triumphal procession of this discipline. However, there are also critical voices regarding the accuracy and reliability of insect evidence, particularly in legal investigations. In this context, an important issue to discuss is the relationship between basic research and applied FE. The lecture will take a closer look on the work of a forensic entomologist, presenting new research areas of this specialized discipline, discuss practical problems and give an outlook on the future development of forensic entomology.

Dr. Marko Jelicic

Marko Jelicic is professor of Neuropsychology and Law at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He studied psychology at the University of Amsterdam and earned his PhD from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Before coming to Maastricht, he worked in Glasgow, Toronto, Groningen and Amsterdam. Jelicic has published about crime-related amnesia, stress and the brain, the effect of brain damage on eyewitness memory, suspects with brain disorders and several other topics. He regularly serves as an expert witness for Dutch criminal courts.

Amnesia for a crime? Only in case of brain dysfunction!

About 25% of people who are standing trial for a violent offence state that they cannot remember their crime. There are three scientific explanations for such amnesia. The first one is the organic amnesia explanation, which contends that individuals accused of criminal acts cannot remember their offence because of permanent or temporary brain dysfunction. The second one is the dissociative amnesia explanation, which holds that people who are standing trial have memory loss for their offence because of strong emotions at the time of the crime. The third one is the feigned amnesia explanation, which states that individuals feign memory loss for their offence because they think that crime-related amnesia would be beneficial to their criminal case. In this presentation, I will show that both organic and feigned memory loss for a crime are possible, but dissociative amnesia for an offence is quite unlikely. Furthermore, I will describe methods that forensic psychologists may use to differentiate between true and feigned memory loss for a crime.