Dr Kate Barnes

Kate Barnes

Position: Lecturer in Forensic Biology

College: College of Life & Natural Sciences

Department: Natural Sciences

Subject area: Forensic Sciences

Research Centre: Environmental Sustainability Research Centre

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I am Programme Leader for MRes in Forensic Science and Lecturer in Forensic Biology. I teach on the Forensic Science, Biology and Zoology undergraduate programmes and Forensic Science postgraduate programme. I gained my undergraduate degree from the University of Exeter and I received a PhD from the University of Lincoln in the field of Forensic Entomology, looking at competitive interactions between microbes and insects in the corpse environment. My research sits within the field of Forensic Ecology, currently exploring insect-microbe interactions and assessing the effect of environmental conditions on blow fly behaviour. I regularly publish my work in peer-reviewed journals and present at research conferences. 

Teaching responsibilities

I teach on the Biology, Zoology and Forensic Science undergraduate degree programmes and contribute to the following modules:

  • Introduction to Forensic Science
  • Trace Evidence
  • Wildlife Crime and Forensic Entomology
  • Medical Forensics
  • Applied Entomology
  • Independent Studies

I am Programme Leader for the MRes in Forensic Science and Module Leader for Independent Research and Essential Skills for Scientists.


Research interests

My research is focused in the areas of forensic entomology and microbiology and centres on the interactions between carrion feeding insects and the microbes in the decomposition environment. I am interested in how insects and microbes colonising human remains change over time and how the microbes influence insect behaviour and development. This work contributes to our understanding and interpretation of forensic ecological evidence in terms of the minimum post mortem interval estimation.

In addition, I am interested in how the environment influences blow fly activity and oviposition with a view to better understand the pre-colonisation period and more accurately determine species-specific colonisation times.

My research also has links with human medicine and environmental health, for example, I study the antibacterial activities of carrion feeding insects, such as the blow fly Lucilia sericata (the species used in Maggot Debridement Therapy) and blow flies as vectors of disease.

Membership of professional bodies

  • Member of the European Association for Forensic Entomology
  • Member of the Royal Entomological Society
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Undergraduate qualifications

  • BSc (Hons) Cognitive Science, University of Exeter

Postgraduate qualifications

  • MSc Bioinformatics, University of Exeter

Research qualifications

  • PhD in Forensic Science (Entomology), University of Lincoln

Recent publications

  • Tomberlin, J.K., Benbow, M.E., Barnes, K.M., Jordan, H.R. (2017) Arthropod-microbe interactions on vertebrate remains: Potential applications in the forensic sciences Pp 274- . In: Carter, D.O., Tomberlin, J.K., Benbow, M.E., Metcalf, J.L. Forensic Microbiology. John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
  • Ody, H., Bulling, M.T., Barnes, K.M. (2017) Effects of environmental temperature on oviposition behavior in three blow fly species of forensic importance. Forensic Science International. 275: 138-143
  • Crooks, E.R., Bulling, M.T., Barnes, K.M. (2016) Microbial effects on the development of forensically important blow fly species. Forensic Science International. 266: 185-190.
  • Barnes, K.M., Grace, K.A., Bulling, M.T. (2015) Nocturnal oviposition behavior of forensically-important Diptera in Central England. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 60(6): 1601-1605.
  • Barnes, K.M. (2013) Forensic Entomology Pp. 149-160. In: Cooper, J.E., Cooper, M.E. Wildlife Forensic Investigation: Principles and practice. CRC Press.
  • Barnes, K., Gennard, D. (2013) Rearing bacteria and maggots concurrently: a protocol using Lucilia sericata (Diptera: Calliphoridae) as a model species. Applied Entomology and Zoology. 48(3): 247-253.
  • Barnes, K., Gennard, D. (2011) The effect of bacterially-dense environments on the development and immune defences of the blowfly, Lucilia sericata (Diptera:Calliphoridae). Physiological Entomology. 36: 96-100.
  • Barnes, Kate (2010) Maggots, Murder and Microbes. Antenna (Bulletin of the Royal Entomological Society), 34 (3):119-122.
  • Barnes, K., Dixon, R., Gennard, D. (2010) The antibacterial potency of the medicinal maggot, Lucilia sericata (Meigen): variation in laboratory evaluation. Journal of Microbiological Methods. 82(3): 234-237.
  • Barnes, K., Gennard, D., Dixon, R. (2010) An assessment of the antibacterial activity in larval excretion/secretion of four species of insects recorded in association with corpses, using Lucilia sericata Meigen as the marker species. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 22: 1-6.

Recent conferences

  • The impact of small scale environmental variation on the relationship between recorded ambient temperature and corpse temperature:potential implications for estimating the minimum post mortem interval? Oral Presentation at the European Association for Forensic Entomology Annual Meeting, Treviso, Italy, June 2017.
  • Nocturnal oviposition behaviour in forensically-important diptera in Central England. Oral Presentation at the European Association for Forensic Entomology Annual Meeting, Lille, France, April 2014
  • Using entomological evidence from a crime scene. Oral Presentation at the Second Chester Conference on Forensics: Aspects of Conservation and Wildlife Crime, Chester, UK, March 2012
  • Calculating Post Mortem Interval from the natural world. Oral Presentation at the BIT's 2nd Annual World Congress of Forensics, Chongqing, China October 2011
  • Insect succession in a woodland environment. Oral Presentation at the Ento'11. Annual National Meeting of the Royal Entomological Society, Chatham, UK, September 2011
  • Carrion-feeding insect larvae produce small antibacterial components in their ES: potential for biomedical application? Oral Presentation at the Ento'10. Annual National Meeting of the Royal Entomological Society, Swansea, UK, July 2010.
  •  The influence of concentration and nutrient on the antibacterial activity in L. sericata excretion/secretion (ES): implications for liquid culture assays. Poster Presentation at the Ento '09. Annual National Meeting of the Royal Entomological Society, Sheffield, UK, July 2009.
  • A model of the competitive interactions between the blowfly Lucilia sericata Meigen and pathogenic bacteria found on a corpse. Poster Presentation at the  European Association for Forensic Entomology 7th Annual Meeting, Uppsala, Sweden, June 2009.
  • An Assessment of the Antibacterial Activity in Larval Excretion/Secretion from Four Carrion Feeding Insect Species using Lucilia sericata (Meigen) as the Marker Species. Poster Presentation at the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Spring Meeting, Birmingham, UK, April 2009.
  • Differences in the antibacterial activity of Lucilia sericata (Meigen) larval excretion/secretion compared to Calliphora vicina (R-D), Tenebrio molitor (L.) and Dermestes maculatus (DeGeer). Poster Presentation at the American Society of Microbiology 108th General Meeting, Boston, USA, June 2008.

Additional interests and activities

  • Reviewer for the Journal of Microbiological Methods, Immunology and Medical Microbiology, Ecological Entomology, Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, Tropical Biomedicine, Journal of Applied Biomedicine, Medical and Veterinary Entomology and Forensic Science International
  • External Examiner for the University of Lincoln
  • PhD examiner (Swansea and Lincoln)
  • Forensic Entomology workshops and exhibitions as part of the University outreach programme
  • Member of the Dipterists Forum and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Entomological Society

Experience in industry

Research posts

  • Sheffield Hallam University: Post-Doctoral Researcher, January 2009 - August 2010
  • University of Lincoln: Research Assistant, August 2005 - December 2008

In the media

  • What does the discovery of a mosquito species capable of transmitting West Nile Virus in the North Marshes of Kent mean? Radio Derby Mid-morning show with Aleena Naylor. Friday 17 February 2012
  • Insects in Medicine. Radio Derby afternoon show with Andy Potter. Friday 26 August 2011
  • How insects can help solve crimes. Radio Derby afternoon show with Andy Potter. Friday 1 July 2011
  • 1 in 3 people think sell by dates are nonsense so should we follow sell-by dates on food products? Radio Derby Mid-morning show with Aleena Naylor. Friday 24 September 2010.

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