Warning signs of incel violence: Student work presented at the American Academy of Forensic Science

“Never in my academic career would I have expected to verbally present my research in a conference” says BCIT Forensics grad Eva Ip. “It was such an incredible experience.”

Eva just graduated from the Forensic Investigation (Forensic Science Option) Bachelor of Technology program. She transferred into the program after initially studying criminology and linguistics.

Why Forensics? “There are so many different careers that are offered in the Forensics field, and I think that makes it so exciting,” says Eva.

Last month she took her research project to the stage at the American Academy of Forensic Science’s Annual Scientific Conference (AAFS) in Seattle. “I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to verbally present in the AAFS conference and was given a thirty-minute block,” explains Eva.

“There are so many different careers that are offered in the Forensics field, and I think that makes it so exciting,” -Eva Ip

woman speaking at a podium with a screen next to her
Above: Eva presents at the American Academy of Forensic Science

Danger signs in the incel community

Her presentation was titled From Online Personas to Mass Murderers: The Incel Ideology and the Struggles of Mental Health. “Incels” are also known as involuntary celibates. These are self-identified men who are typically isolated, yet connected online to other men who are angry about perceived rejection by women. The movement has been tied to violent attacks and dangerous extremism.

Eva is interested in determining when this hostility predicts acts of violence. “My research focused on whether there were underlying mental health factors that contributed towards an incel’s antagonism towards women, and ultimately, if it would lead to them committing a mass attack.”

She noted that mental health in incel communities is very rarely discussed, and has not yet been well studied. “I’m hoping that the results that I found in my research will be able to help guide future researchers who want to study mental health within incel groups more in depth.”

Eva’s results indicated that incels who frequent these forums are isolated individuals who seek commonality and reassurance amongst those who are similar to them – an act to prove that they’re not alone in the world.

In terms of future research: Eva believes there needs to be more focus on individual users who are frequently posting their frustrated views on discussion boards. While there have been situations where the factors of mental health have led to mass attacks towards the greater population, these are rare occurrences that typically only develop after receiving online support and encouragement.

Eva’s interest in incels was shared by the conference participants, and she had a full audience.

Eva’s advice for future students interested in research

Eva says she was able to explore her topic, conduct her data collection, and practice presenting to a wide range of peers in the sequential courses in her BCIT Forensics program.

“The graduation project courses were absolutely the preparation I needed for this conference. If you have a topic that you are interested in doing research for, it is essential to explore during your graduation project courses. Use the opportunity to demonstrate your skills to future employers.”

Her advice to future students? “My advice is short and sweet: if an opportunity presents itself, take it!” encourages Eva. “You will never know unless you try, and you might be surprised at the outcome.”

Regarding her own future opportunities, Eva says, “This is definitely something that I would love to do again.”

Sign up for the twice-yearly Forensics Investigator and keep up with the latest

Leave a comment