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Transcript: Role of the Forensic Botanist
Dr. Rolf Mathewes: I'm a botanist by training but my first real love was plant ecology, then secondly I moved into plant fossils. In many ways this has preadapted me because fossils are incomplete, often fragmentary, they're not the whole plant, and that is often what you deal with in a forensic investigation, some seeds on a shoe or fragmentary leaves associated with a crime scene. So it was a natural transition to go from my plant ecology and fossil work into forensic botany.
I'm usually brought in part way through a police investigation. Police will have collected some plant materials in association with a crime and sent it to me for analysis. Or sometimes I'm actually called in early in the stage to collect materials at a crime scene.