EIS Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Ben 2a.jpgDr. Charles Ben Beard

Charles Benjamin (Ben) Beard is the Deputy Director of CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases. He also serves as co-chair of CDC’s Climate and Health Taskforce and is an author for the Human Health Chapter of the USGCRP Fifth National Climate Assessment. He is an Associate Editor for Emerging Infectious Diseases and past president of the Society for Vector Ecology. During his tenure at CDC, his work has focused on the ecology, prevention, and control of vector-borne zoonotic diseases, both in domestic and global arenas.


Berenbaum.jpgDr. May Berenbaum

May Berenbaum, Ph.D. has been on the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign since 1980, serving as head since 1992 and as Swanlund Chair of Entomology since 1996. Her work is focused on characterizing biochemical , genetic, and molecular mechanisms underlying interactions between insects and the plants they consume, including detoxification of natural and synthetic chemicals, and for applying ecological principles in developing sustainable management practices for natural and agricultural communities. Her research, supported primarily by NSF and USDA, has produced over 300 refereed scientific publications and 40 book chapters. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, she has chaired two National Research Council committees, the Committee on the Future of Pesticides in U.S. Agriculture (2000) and the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America (2007). Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy through formal and informal education, she has authored numerous magazine articles and six books about insects for the general public; on the UIUC campus, she founded outreach efforts including the Insect Fear Film Festival, the citizen-science web portal Beespotter, and the UIUC Pollinatarium. She graduated summa cum laude, with a B.S. degree and honors in biology, from Yale University in 1975 and received a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980.


Rufus.jpgDr. Rufus Isaacs

Rufus Isaacs is an entomologist studying insect pests, natural enemies, and pollinators in berry farms. His research program works with colleagues to develop and evaluate the most effective and profitable pest and pollinator management tactics, and also focuses on understanding which strategies have potential for improving fruit production. With extension responsibilities for berry crops entomology, he also provides recommendations for management of the many economically-important native and invasive insects that inhabit grape and berry farms.


TBC Black Bio Pic.pngThe Bug Chicks, Jessica Honaker and Kristie Reddick

Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker are The Bug Chicks – entomologist and educators who work at the intersection of STEM, sci-comm and empathy. Their signature style blends science education with social-emotional learning and uses bugs as a vehicle to talk about concepts like resilience, growth-mindset, being brave and feeling capable. They are the creators of the award-winning curriculum DIFFERENT, a STEM + SEL program that creates evidence-based positive mindset shifts in students. Their work encourages people of all ages to foster empathy for themselves, others and the natural world.



Ali.pngDr. Jared Ali

Jared Gregory Ali, Ph.D., serves as an Associate Professor of Entomology, and is Associate Chair of the Ecology Graduate Program at Penn State. He is the currently Director of the Center for Chemical Ecology, also holds the Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Endowed Chair of Chemical Ecology. Dr. Ali's scholarly pursuits are deeply entrenched in the intricate world of multi-trophic interactions, focusing on a range of topics from plant responses to herbivory and the complex community dynamics of nematodes and insects to the broader scopes of chemical ecology and coevolutionary processes. His research projects are diverse, covering areas such as trophic cascades, the interconnectedness of above and belowground ecosystems, chemotaxis behaviors in soil nematodes, and the adaptive evolution of plant defense mechanisms. A significant portion of Dr. Ali's work is dedicated to exploring and developing sustainable pest control strategies and advocating for the conservation of beneficial insects, aiming to balance agricultural needs with ecological integrity.


Allan_brian230801-mh-09.jpgDr. Brian Allan

Brian is broadly interested in the ecology of vector-borne diseases. Much of his research focuses on the consequences of human-mediated global change, such as climate change and human land-use, for vector-borne disease dynamics.



Profile Photo Amulen Deborah Ruth.jpgDr. Deborah Ruth Amulen

Deborah Ruth Amulen is a Lecturer in the Department of Livestock Industrial Resources at School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Resources (SVAR), Makerere University & a Post doctorate fellow at Michigan State University (USA), Department of Entomology. She holds a PhD in applied biological sciences from Belgium. Currently a lead scientist and coordinator of RTC pollinator protection and insect research at Makerere University. Driven by the passion to see increased exploitation of beneficial insects such as bees in Uganda, Deborah has also founded the Center for Insect Research and Development (CIRD) http://www.cird.co.ug/, a company limited by guarantee that allows her to engage more partners in public, business (private) as well as community. Deborah has the bold vision to improve rural lives through action research, business and training. Because of the trust communities have in her, she is also a board member in the Uganda National Apiculture Development Organization (TUNADO) entrusted to design alternative approaches for improved beekeeping in Karamoja and Teso (agro-pastoral areas of Uganda).


JRAngus headshot.jpgDr. Jennifer Angus

Jennifer Angus is a visual artist described by Art Daily as “one of the top contemporary installation artists in the country.” She is best known for creating elaborate installations in which real insects, albeit dead and dried, are pinned directly to the wall in order to create patterns which reference wallpaper. Her work seeks to provoke a series of increasingly urgent questions in the age of climate change and argue that beyond clean air and water, insects are the key to the earth’s well-being and our very survival. Angus’ work has been shown internationally and at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York among many others.


Bahlai Christie headshot April 23 facing right.jpgDr. Christie Bahlai

Christie Bahlai is a computational ecologist at Kent State University. With a background in applied insect ecology, physics, and tech, she develops synthesis methodologies to understand the drivers of biodiversity trends. Bahlai holds a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and was an inaugural recipient of the Mozilla Fellowship for Science as a postdoc at Michigan State.She currently co-directs Kent State’s Environmental Science and Design Research Institute, whose mandate is to seed and support interdisciplinary research in the community, and helps lead an international research coordination network assessing the global status of insects. She routinely refers to ladybugs as her “bread and butter.”


Headshot Bartholomay.jpg

Dr. Lyric Bartholomay

Lyric Bartholomay is a medical entomologist and Professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She is co-director for the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease.



Booth.jpgDr. Warren Booth

Warren received his B.Sc. in Genetics (2000) and Ph.D. in Evolutionary Genetics (2005) from the Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 2006 he moved to the U.S. to join the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University as a post-doctoral researcher. Between 2012 and 2022 he was a faculty member in the Department of Biological Science at The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, before moving to Virginia Tech in 2023 to take up the position of Associate Professor of Urban Entomology. There his lab uses molecular and genomic tools in addition to behavioral and biochemical assays to understand how organisms adapt and evolve within the urban environment. Projects range from organellar evolution to studies of global population structure, and largely focus on indoor pests of health and economic concern, namely bed bugs and cockroaches.


Brosius.jpgDr. Tierney Brosius

Dr. Tierney Brosius is an Associate Professor of Biology at Augustana College, where she merges her passions in both science and art. This unique blend of creativity and scientific education serves as a means to inspire and educate her students. By integrating activities such as drawing and hands-on experiences, she fosters a deeper understanding of the subject matter while enhancing students' observational skills. Tierney firmly believes that art is a powerful tool for conveying scientific concepts, refining observational abilities, and transforming the way the public perceives insects.


Bugajski picture.jpgDr. Kristi Bugajski

Kristi Bugajski received her M.S. in Entomology from Michigan State University and her PhD in Entomology from Purdue University. She is currently an associate professor of biology at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. She is passionate about STEM education to increase diversity in STEM, and has a current NSF S-STEM grant to support this work. 


LSMRCE Headshot 2019.jpgDr. Ana Chicas-Mosier

Dr. Chicas-Mosier earned two Bachelors of Science and her Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University where she studied honey bee behavioral toxicology. She then served as a post-doctoral researcher in the Insect Behavior and Chemical Ecology laboratory at Auburn University. Over the course of her educational career, Dr. Chicas-Mosier developed equity-centered programming and researched structural inequities in higher education. These activities eventually changed her career from entomology to equity. She currently serves as the Director of Education, Outreach, and Diversity Programs at the University of Kansas Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis and aims to be a catalyst for social justice in higher education through advocacy, professional development, and institutional change.


Todd DeKryger 2019 pic.jpgDr. Todd DeKryger

Todd DeKryger is the North American Regional Manager for Nestle’s Sustainable Agricultural Development group, located in Fremont, Michigan.  Amongst other things, his duties include developing agricultural policy for Gerber and providing leadership on infant food contaminant and agricultural sustainability issues. He is a three-time Michigan State Spartan, earning a BS from the Department of Horticulture, a MS from the Department of Entomology, and a PhD from the Department of Community Sustainability. 


Stephanie Dole Beetlelady.jpgDr. Stephanie Dole








Dunkel_florence-16.crop.jpgDr. Florence Dunkel

Florence Dunkel has made remarkable contributions to the status of women at Montana State University as well as nationally and internationally. Joining MSU as an entomology professor in 1988, she became the College of Agriculture's first female department head and the second woman to chair an entomology department at any U.S. land-grant university. She has inspired countless women students to pursue careers in the life sciences. Dunkel's innovative, experiential teaching methods have garnered many awards, including the President's Excellence in Teaching Award (2013) and the Entomological Society of America's Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching (2012). Her courses are multicultural in perspective and strongly emphasize engagement. For example, her fifth and most recent academic book (Elsevier 2017) documents how she engaged students in service-learning on the Northern Cheyenne and Apsaalooke reservations as well as in "Peace Corps-type" projects in Africa. One of these projects is credited with virtually eliminating malaria in a village in Mali. Dunkel was the first woman to lead a USDA scientific team to mainland China. Her research on the biocontrol of insects and biorational natural products resulted in safe alternatives to chemical pesticides, for which she has been awarded two patents, each sub-licensed to biotech firms. 


Golick_headshot_plainBG_22.jpgDr. Doug Golick

Dr. Doug Golick is an Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he teaches courses on using insects in science instruction and science presentation and communication methods. In addition to teaching, he conducts research on the use of beneficial insects in STEM education through pollinator conservation activities and community science programs. He also has an active extension program that promotes arthropod conservation in formal and informal learning environments through STEM education partnerships like the Milkweed in the Classroom program that has engaged over 8,000 midwestern elementary students in STEM education activities and as a Scientist-in-Residence in an elementary art classroom where he developed lessons connecting the phenomenon of water striders “rowing” on water (surface tension) to the process of creating Japanese marbled paper.


Hamer.jpegDr. Sarah Hamer

Dr. Sarah Hamer is a Professor of Epidemiology in the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University. Her research lab is focused on the ecology and epidemiology of diseases that emerge at the human-wildlife-domestic animal interface with a focus in the US and Latin America.  Her MS is from University of Illinois, and her PhD and DVM degrees are from Michigan State University. Her work in vector-borne disease spans soft and hard ticks, triatomines, and fleas.


DSCF2992.jpgDr. Ronda Hamm

Dr. Ronda Hamm is passionate about providing enriching entomology experiences for everyone. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Education at Fresno State University and her Master of Science and Doctorate degrees in Entomology at Cornell University. Dr. Hamm was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) If/Then Ambassador. She received the Entomological Foundation Medal of Honor for her work in founding three successful science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs (two while in graduate school and one at Corteva Agriscience) that continue to grow. 


Harmon-threatt210525-15.jpgDr. Alex Harmon-Threatt

Harmon-Threatt is a pollination ecologist with broad interests in understanding the patterns and processes that govern plant-pollinator interactions for conservation. Pollinators play a vital role in plant reproduction, food production and ecosystem stability but are believed to be declining globally. Her work focuses on identifying and understanding patterns in natural environments to help conserve and restore pollinator diversity. With a particular focus on bees, she investigates how a number of factors at both the local and landscape scale, effect bee diversity in local communities.


HiRes-Jordan_Hesterman-0388-Crop.jpgJordan Hesterman

Jordan Hesterman is the Director of Precision Agriculture at FMC Corporation. He and his team are responsible for the global deployment of FMC and partner-developed precision agriculture solutions and services, working hand-in-hand with commercial, R&D, technical service and key stakeholders to bring the best of FMC’s technology and product solution portfolio to bear for its customers. Prior to his current focus in Precision Ag, Jordan was Director of Corporate Strategy responsible for leading strategic and analytical efforts in support of corporate-wide commercial initiatives, providing input into overall corporate and business unit strategic planning processes, innovation efforts and managing strategic corporate restructuring projects and other aspects of organizational change.


FKaplan-10-794_495.jpgDr. Fatma Kaplan

Dr. Fatma Kaplan is the co-founder, CEO of Pheronym and Activate Berkeley Fellow & Berkeley Lab Affiliate Cyclotron Road Cohort 2021.  She is an entrepreneur and accomplished scientist with experience in both biology and chemistry. She has a Ph.D. in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology and postdoctoral training in Natural Product Chemistry with a focus on isolating biologically active compounds. Dr. Kaplan discovered the first sex pheromone of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and published in Nature in 2008. Then she discovered that pheromones regulate other behaviors in both parasitic and beneficial nematodes. Dr. Kaplan conducted the first agricultural biocontrol experiment in Space at the International Space Station in 2020. She has very high-impact publications and her dissertation was cited in textbooks within 5 years of publication. Dr. Kaplan worked as a scientist at NASA, the National Magnetic Field Laboratory and the US Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service. Dr. Kaplan co-founded Pheronym to bring nematode pheromone technology to the market. Dr. Kaplan believes that nematode pheromone technology will provide effective, climate-resilient, non-toxic pest control for farmers and gardeners.


Margarita-YHBI2022-278 copy.jpegDr. Margarita Lopez-Uribe

Margarita is the Lorenzo L. Langstroth Early Career Professor and Associate Professor of Entomology at Penn State University. She is also an extension specialist in pollinator health for Penn State Extension. Margarita received her BS in Biology from Universidad de los Andes (Colombia), her MS in Genetics and Evolution from Universidade Federal de São Carlos (Brazil), and her Ph.D. in Entomology from Cornell University (USA). She was an NSF postdoctoral research fellow at North Carolina State University before joining Penn State. Margarita was awarded the ESA Early Career Research Award in 2018, she also received an NSF CAREER award in 2021, and most recently was recognized with the Distinguished Achievement Award in the Promotion of Diversity and Inclusion in the Field of Entomology by the Entomological Society of America. As an evolutionary ecologist, she is broadly interested in understanding how artificial selection and management shape bee health and the long-term persistence of their populations in agricultural areas.


Moreau headshot.jpgDr. Corrie Moreau

Dr. Corrie Moreau is the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Science Senior Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Martha N. and John C. Moser Endowed Professor of Arthropod Biosystematics and Biodiversity in the Departments of Entomology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Ithaca, New York, USA.  She is also the Director and Head Curator of the Cornell University Insect Collection with over 7 million specimens.  Dr. Moreau earned her Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University and was a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.  Before this she completed her undergraduate and Master's degrees at San Francisco State University.  Dr. Moreau was elected a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society in 2021, a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America in 2020, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2018, a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences USA in 2016, a National Geographic Explorer in 2014, and highlighted as a Woman of Impact by the National Geographic Society in 2018.  In addition she has one genus and three species named after her.

Dr. Moreau's research on the evolution and diversification of ants and their symbiotic bacteria couples field-based research with molecular and genomic tools to address the origin of species and how co-evolved systems benefit both partners.  Also, she pursues questions on the role of biogeography, trait evolution, and symbiosis in shaping macroevolutionary processes to better understand broad-scale evolutionary patterns of life.  She has published over 100 scientific papers.  In addition to her passion for scientific research, Dr. Moreau is also engaged with efforts to promote science communication and increase diversity in the sciences. 


Pearson-headshot.pngDr. Gwen Pearson

Gwen Pearson is an award-winning science communicator. Her freelance science writing career includes bylines in WIRED Science, Washington Post, and other news outlets. ​She is the founder of the Insect Festival Working Group (InsectFestivals.org), and former Purdue Bug Bowl Coordinator.


2024 headshot.jpgJeni Ruisch

Jeni Ruisch joined Entomology in 2019 to undertake the expansion of the teaching insect collection and creation of a physical Columbus Bug Zoo.  Ruisch returned to her alma mater, OSU, after a decade of experience as a writer and journalist (2008-2018) most recently as the Editor-in-Chief of (614) Magazine. Ruisch has formal animal husbandry experience with primates, parrots, reptiles and aquatic animals, and spent many years at OSU learning arthropod husbandry under the guidance of George Keeney, now retired curator of the Columbus bug zoo and Museum of Biological Diversity Insectary. In 2021, Ruisch took over management of the Insectary, merging the separate operations into one live arthropod collection devoted to education and outreach, while also coordinating the creation of a truly unique outreach experience: the Mobile Bug Zoo.


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Dr. Debajit Saha

Dr. Debajit Saha is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and IQ at Michigan State University. Dr. Saha joined MSU in 2019 Fall after pursuing his doctoral and postdoctoral training at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Saha’s work encompasses systems neuroscience and neural engineering. Dr. Saha is working on developing Insect Brain-Based chemical sensors for medical, environmental and public safety applications.



Shah Headshot (1).jpegDr. Alisha Shah

Alisha is an Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, MSU's largest off-campus research and education complex, and the Department of Integrative Biology. Her research focuses on understanding how environmental temperature shapes the physiological traits of aquatic insects, with the goal of predicting how insects and their communities will respond to global warming. Her work involves a mix of lab and field studies and integrates evolution, community ecology, physiology, and global change biology. Alisha is passionate about the conservation of biodiversity and coordinates a number of outreach efforts to educate the public about insects. In her spare time, Alisha loves to spend time outdoors with her daughter and husband, paint, and play her guitar.


Head shot.jpgDr. Eleanor Spicer Rice

Eleanor Spicer Rice, PhD, is the author of several books, including Unseen Jungle: The Microbes That Secretly Control Our World. She's made appearances on the Discovery show What on Earth, NPR’s Science Friday, CBC’s Quirks and Quarks, and Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone. She works to connect all people with the natural world through her books, magazine articles, and radio and television appearances. She lives in Raleigh with her husband, sons, dogs, and a small but valiant flock of homing pigeons. Learn more at www.spicerrice.com.  


Tomberlin-300dpi color.jpgDr. Jeff Tomberlin

Dr. Jeffery K. Tomberlin is a Professor, AgriLife Research Fellow, & Presidential Impact Fellow in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University and Fellow of the Entomological Society of America. Research in the F.L.I.E.S. Facility examines species interactions on ephemeral resources such as vertebrate carrion, decomposing plant material and animal wastes in order to better understand the mechanisms regulating arthropod behavior as related to arrival, colonization and succession patterns. The goals of his program are numerous; however, a major focus of his research is on forensic entomology as well as waste management in confined animal facilities as well as concerns with food waste being placed in landfills. His research efforts for the past 27 years have been developing methods for the production of alternate protein sources for use as livestock, poultry, and aquaculture feed from these resources.


(c) Umberto Diecinove.JPGChef Joseph Yoon

Chef Joseph Yoon, a pioneering member of The Explorers Club and Chef Advocate for the UN’s IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), leads global change as the founder of Brooklyn Bugs, and the Culinary Director for the Insects to Feed the World Conference. With over 250 days of touring across five continents since covid, he champions the immense potential of insect agriculture, helping to reshape its significance for humanity. 

Joseph’s fervor extends beyond culinary innovation; he strives to bridge cultures, connecting with local and indigenous groups while honoring and amplifying the wisdom and traditions of these communities. Regularly featured in major press around the world, he reimagines the perceptions of edible insects, battling shame cast by globalization and ensuring equitable representation for traditions long overshadowed in the culinary landscape. His advocacy echoes globally, resonating with the UN’s 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), and emphasizing the importance of inclusivity in reshaping our approach to sustainable food systems.