Interactive Sessions - Kids' Tech University (KTU) at BGSU    
Jennifer M. DeBruyn, Ph.DFebruary 11, 2017
Life after Death: Exploring the decomposer organisms that recycle corpses back to soil

An interactive session led by Jennifer M. DeBruyn, Ph.D

Biosystems engineering and Soil Science University of Tennessee

What happens to an animal or human after it dies? In nature, a myriad of organisms, mostly microbial and arthropod, move in for a meal. These pop-up communities are important for recycling the carcass back to soil, releasing nutrients back into the environment to be used by other plants. In this talk, we’ll explore the types of organisms that help decompose carcasses and corpses and how we are using our understanding of decomposition to answer questions in forensic science. Jennifer DeBruyn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville Tennessee. She and her students research the microbial ecology of decomposition and biodegradation. She has actively studied the microbial communities involved with decomposition of vertebrate mortalities (humans and animals), working at the UT Anthropology Research Facility (the “body farm”), a human decomposition outdoor laboratory, to better understand controls on decomposition how this can be applied to questions in ecology, forensics and livestock mortality management.