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02-Jan-2019 04:06

Why, then, is 29-year-old Laurence the only full-time forensic pollen analyst in the United States? When asked how many cases, ranging from smuggling to homicide, he’s worked on during his three and half years of full-time employment with U. Customs and Border Protection, Laurence said, “Oh, geez. At least 160.”* * *The most famous forensic-palynology case, and one that Laurence looks to as a landmark, is the first.In 1959, in Austria, a man disappeared and, despite the lack of a body, was presumed murdered.

The Woodlawn Jane Doe—she’d been found near the Woodlawn Cemetery—had been asphyxiated.Bryant’s work was successful enough that DHS wanted a full-time forensic palynologist. Customs and Border Protection falls under the umbrella of DHS.)The work, as Laurence describes it, is mindboggling.Bryant trained his student, Andrew Laurence, who was hired by U. Customs and Border Protection in 2011, while still in grad school and at work on his dissertation. There are 380,000 different species of plants on the planet, each with its own unique pollen type.On June 25, the remains of a child were found in a trash bag on the shore of Boston’s Deer Island.

It wasn’t clear how long she’d been dead, but there was some decomposition.If it’s collected too late, it’s sometimes not admissible.* * *Forensic palynology is arguably a victim of its own success. is the industry standard, and a background in botany, ecology, pharmacology, and, depending on your specialty, geology is required.“I am swamped with the amount of samples that come in,” Laurence says. For forensic palynology, tack on geography and climatology. “There’s not a whole lot of palynologists in the world to begin with, and even less doing forensics.”Vaughn Bryant told me that a number of federal agencies want to develop a “black box” that would be run by a computer—the idea being “you could put in a pollen sample from something and bingo, the black box identifies all the pollen types and sends the information to the computer for interpretation …“I can’t even come close to staying on top of just what U. Customs and its constituents provides.” And there isn’t a fleet of aspiring forensic palynologists on the horizon to populate the nation’s crime labs. After all that work, graduates tend to gravitate toward the money. all in a matter of minutes.” So far, he said, the U. government has spent “several million or more” trying to develop this.