Southeastern biologist paricipates in USA Science and Engineering Festival | Business
From Southeastern Louisiana University
When Southeastern biologist Erin Watson-Horzelski arrives in Washington, DC, for the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo, she will have some interesting cargo waiting for her – a collection of maggots.
Her strange companions – who will be tucked away securely to avoid any escape during their transport – are Watson-Horzelski’s main tools for her hands-on exhibit that provide children, as well as adults, with a basic introduction into the life cycle of insects and the important role they play in nature.
Maggots – the larvae of a common blow fly – are used by Watson-Horzelski at fairs and other exhibits where she incorporates them into “Maggot Monets.” The kids place a maggot in a drop of water-based poster pain, and soon it’s wiggling across the paper making abstract designs. In the process she explains how maggots play important roles in helping to decompose trash and dead animals.
Bugs are Watson-Horzelski’s work. A forensic entomologist and assistant professor of biological sciences at Southeastern, she serves as a consultant to the FBI and area law enforcement agencies who often rely on maggots and other insects to help estimate a date of death in homicide cases.
This is the second year she will be at the Science and Engineering Festival. Last year her exhibit drew considerable attention as kids and adults crowded around her tent to get a chance to create their own “Maggot Monets.” Southeastern is the only Louisiana institution participating in the weekend event.
With more than 2,000 exhibits, the festival – with its array of exhibits coupled with up-close interaction with renowned innovators and top researchers and celebrities in science – has rapidly evolved into a highly popular event for families, students and others. The Expo is designed to encourage young students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Assisting Watson-Horzelski on the trip will be biology instructor Mary Miller and graduate student Danielle Levron.