Published: Oct. 30, 2015

University of Colorado Boulder scientists know how to get teens excited about science – pick a good topic, such as using science to solve crimes, and then package it in a “café” setting.

The Teen Science Café – the next one dubbed “CSI Botany: Using Plants to Solve Crimes” - is part of a national push to get more young people involved in science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM) subjects.

On the heels of Halloween, teens are invited to join CU emeritus Professor David Norris for an exploration of forensic botany and how to use plant material to help solve crimes from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, at the CU Museum of Natural History’s lower level BioLounge.

The event, run by CU Science Discovery, is free and open to teens ages 13 to 18. Due to limited space, RSVP is required at

Norris, an emeritus professor of integrative physiology and forensic botanist, has studied the effects of environmental influences acting through the brain and the endocrine system in vertebrates for more than 40 years. His research and consulting work in forensic botany includes the identification of plant food materials in gastric, intestinal and fecal samples from homicide victims and related forensic uses of plants.

While the word “botany” inspires images of hot houses and neatly pressed flowers, for Norris the word is associated with images of grisly crimes, cold cases and victims’ last meals. In this Teen Science Café, participants will learn about the field of forensic botany and learn how Norris and his partner have helped solve crimes in Colorado and around the world using classical botanical laboratory and field techniques.

Next up in December, the café will highlight the lives of early humans in the Boulder Valley and feature a behind-the-scenes exploration of the 13,000-year-old tools on display at the CU Museum of Natural History with Douglas Bamforth, CU-Boulder anthropology professor.

CU Science Discovery is CU-Boulder’s science education outreach program administered by Division of Continuing Education.Its Teen Science Cafés offer Colorado teenagers the opportunity to meet and interact with CU-Boulder scientists throughout the school year in fun and informal settings.

To learn more about CU Science Discovery, Teen Science Café and upcoming events, visit or contact Alexandra Rose at to be added to the email list.

Alexandra Rose, CU Science Discovery, 303-492-6058
Julie Poppen, CU-Boulder media relations, (O) 303-492-4007, (M) 720-503-4922