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Jennifer DeBruyn, associate professor of bioengineering, will present “Life After Death: Microbial Ecology of Human Decomposition” at this week’s Science Forum, to be held at noon Friday, March 3.

DeBruyn’s talk will be held in Thompson-Boling Arena Café, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer discussion.

The Science Forum is free and open to the public. Attendees may bring their own lunch or purchase lunch at the café.

DeBruyn will discuss how a decomposing corpse becomes its own mini-ecosystem—hosting insects, scavengers, and a multitude of microbes. Microbes from the environment, the corpse, as well as the insects and scavengers are blended together and work together to recycle tissues back to their constituents.

In her talk, DeBruyn will also discuss how scientists are using information gleaned from decomposition studies to inform forensic science, livestock mortality management, and processes of fossilization.

The Science Forum began in 1933 and is sponsored by UT’s Quest research magazine. The forum was designed to provide the public, students, and other researchers a chance to learn about scientific research void of jargon.


Mark Littmann (865-974-8756,
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,