Speakers/Guides

Meet Team Mothapalooza!

2019 Speakers

Alma Solis
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We are pleased to welcome Dr. M. Alma Solis, PhD as a Keynote Speaker and field guide in 2019! Dr. Solis was born and grew up in south Texas where she attended Texas Southmost College in Brownsville and developed a fascination with biology.

She then went to the University of Texas at Austin where she majored in Science Education and continued on for a Master’s degree in Biological Sciences. For her thesis research she studied lepidopteran leaf miners feeding on deciduous trees in a cloud forest in northeastern Mexico and expanded her study to include light-caught Lepidoptera.

Although she had an early interest in geometrids from her fieldwork in Mexico, she launched into pyraloids for her dissertation research at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Dr. Solis is currently a Research Scientist in the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Agriculture Research Service, USDA, and Curator of the Pyraloidea, Pterophoridae, Thyrididae, and Hyblaeidae at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Her full Bio which is quite impressive indeed can be found at this link: Solis Bio

Dr. Jason Dombroskie, PhD. will be our speaker on Friday night. Jason has had a lifelong interest in nature and started seriously collecting moths at the age of 12. Over ten years of collecting moths in his childhood backyard in rural Ontario, Canada, he collected over 1000 species of moths and began networking with the larger lepidopterist community.

From 1996 to 2005 he worked as a naturalist in Algonquin Provincial Park where he delivered popular educational programs as well as document the moth diversity culminating in nearly 1000 confirmed species. He obtained a BSc. Hon. in Biological Sciences from the University of Guelph and his PhD was on aspects of archipine [Tortricidae] evolution at the University of Alberta.

Since 2012 he has worked as the manager for the Cornell University Insect Collection in NY and the coordinator for the Insect Diagnostic Lab.

Jason has published 15 scientific papers in entomology including a matrix-based key to the Lepidoptera of Canada. Current research in his lab focuses on systematics of the tribe Archipini (Tortricidae) in the New World, but some of his students work on other microlepidoptera. Jason regularly hosts public mothing events across NY and gives richly-illustrated, popular talks and workshops on moth natural history, basic entomology, beneficial insects, and other topics. He will be our Keynote speaker on Friday evening.

Samuel Jaffe is a New England based naturalist, photographer, and educator who has been working with native insects since a very early age. Sam grew up in Eastern Massachusetts chasing birds, mucking through ponds, and turning over leaves. For the last 7 years he has been photographing caterpillars and organizing programs to promote these special creatures to the public. 

In 2013 he founded “The Caterpillar Lab” in Keene NH and he now travels across the country working with museums, nature centers, schools, and individual teachers helping native insects find their place in our everyday lives.

Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware where he has authored 80 research articles and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect ecology and other courses for 32 years. 

Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book“Bringing Nature Home; How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens” was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 silver medal by the Garden Writer’s Association. “The Living Landscape” coauthored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. 

Doug was awarded the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence in 2013.

Field Guides

Bailey, Kyle: Kyle is the Director of Natural Resource Management and a Naturalist for the Richland County Park District, where he has been employed since 2015. He previously spent time working an internship in Tucson, Arizona at Saguaro National Park through the American Conservation Experience, where he was on the Resource Management crew responsible for mapping and managing harmful invasive plant species prone to wildfires.

Kyle is a lifelong resident of Ohio and graduated from Kenyon College in 2013 with a B.A. in Biology. From an early age he developed an interest in the environment and conservation that has created a deep rooted passion for the preservation of Ohio’s flora, fauna and natural areas for future generations. He serves as a board member for the Ohio Dragonfly Society, a board supervisor for the Richland Soil & Water Conservation District, and as the North Central Ohio State Coordinator for the Integrated Monarch Monitoring Project through the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV). Kyle also is an avid bird watcher, entomology enthusiast, amateur photographer, and an overall natural history aficionado that enjoys spending the majority of his time naturalizing and documenting the natural world.

Banks, Kim – Kim is a former naturalist with Preservation Parks of Delaware County which is located just north of Columbus, OH. She likes helping people enjoy nature and feels lucky to be employed doing something she would be doing anyway! 

She became a naturalist because of moths! She spent summers on a very remote wooded property in Arkansas in the 70’s and her entertainment every night was to spend hours at the porch lights watching the beautiful and unusual colors and forms and trying to match them up in a Golden Guide to Butterflies and Moths. Kim has a contagious enthusiasm for nature and generously shares her wide-ranging knowledge with others.

Biegler, Craig – Craig is a naturalist with Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. While still a student, he conducted a moth diversity study at Denison University, volunteered at the Ohio State Insectary, monitored American burying beetles on Nantucket with the Maria Mitchell Association, and identified tropical insects for the Biodiversity Group. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Science from OSU, he worked at the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, and the Columbus Zoo. 

His current job as a naturalist allows him to indulge his passion for educating the public about the natural world. He especially enjoys talking about our less-loved animals, like snakes, bats, and spiders. He lives with his fiancee, his two girls, and various creepy-crawlies.

Brooks, Diane – Diane is a self-taught naturalist and amateur photographer. She has always loved nature, but it wasn’t until she moved to SE Ohio in 1994 when she got her first digital camera that she discovered the wonderful world of insects. She loves to study wildflowers and insects, concentrating on moths and beetles. Diane generously shares her expertise on moth and other insects on various Facebook forums and elsewhere. Her hobbies include rearing different species of moths and butterflies, and gardening.

Gilligan, Mike – Mike taught high school chemistry for 36 years until 1999 when he retired. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University in 1963 and a Masters of Arts Degree in Chemistry in 1966 from The Bowling Green State University. Beginning in 2001, he spent ten years at Ohio Northern University as an adjutant teacher in the chemistry department.

Mike has been an amateur lepidopterists for about the last 25 years, rearing, photographing, collecting, observing, and giving talks on moths and butterflies during this time. He is a member of the Ohio Lepidopterists, the Kentucky Lepidopterists, The Lepidopterist Society, and the Hancock County Naturalist. He has been married for 47 years and has two sons.

Derek Hennen

Hennen, Derek – Derek Hennen is a Ph. D. student and Interfaces of Global Change Interdisciplinary Fellow in the lab of Paul Marek at Virginia Tech, where he studies the biology of millipedes and describes new species of Appalachian millipedes. He graduated from Marietta College with a B.S. in Biology in 2012, and from the University of Arkansas with a M.S. in Entomology in 2015. His past research projects have focused on the endemic arthropods of Arkansas and the assassin bugs of Ohio. He has also served as an Americorps VISTA with Friends of Lower Muskingum River in Marietta, Ohio.

Derek has a passion for science communication and exploring the natural heritage of Appalachia. He has led millipede identification workshops in Ohio and Mexico, and has given invited talks about social media and science communication at The Ohio State University Museum of Biological Diversity and at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. In his free time, he enjoys science outreach, hiking, and learning about natural history and botany. You can find him spreading the joy of millipedes on Twitter @DearMillipede.

Howard, John – John is a freelance naturalist and wildlife/nature photographer living in southern Ohio. He specializes in prairie ecology, butterflies and botany and is adept in many other facets of the great outdoors.

An avid conservationist and one of Ohio’s best naturalists, he is a former board member of the Highland Nature Sanctuary, an Ohio land trust. A day out in the field with John is never a day wasted.

Kriner, Amanda – Amanda graduated from Ashland University in 2013 with degrees in Environmental Science and Biology, where she studied bats in the Mohican Forest. She then spent a year traveling the west coast working for AmeriCorps NCCC and learning that she much preferred the rolling hills and humid forests of Ohio over the dry deserts of central California. Since her return she has been working as the Director of Volunteer Resources and Naturalist for the Richland County Park District where she has quickly learned a wide variety of local flora and fauna, with insects taking a large amount of her attention. She is particularly drawn to dragonflies but finds that most insects are created equal in her mind, as well as most everything else that there is to be learned about our natural world!

Larson, Jason – Jason is the Director of the Richland County Park District and Gorman Nature Center. He received his A.A.S. degrees in Floriculture Design and Marketing and Greenhouse Production and Management from OSU/ATI, his Bachelor’s degree in Conservation Science from Muskingum University and his MS degree in Plant and Environmental Biology from Ohio University. Jason also currently serves as a research associate and curator of the William Adams Herbarium at Muskingum University. 

Jason is a life-long resident of the state of Ohio and spends a great deal of his free time bird watching and botanizing around the Great Lakes area. His love of the environment and natural history has fostered a keen interest in the conservation and preservation of Ohio’s flora, fauna and natural areas, so that future generations will be able to experience the natural wonders that Ohio has to offer. 

McCarty, Rich – Rich was born and raised in Adams County and grew up exploring the woods near his home in Blue Creek, Ohio. An interest in the outdoors as a boy resulted in a degree from Ohio University in Biology. An undergraduate project studying prairie species connected Rich with The Nature Conservancy of Ohio. 

Rich is the naturalist for The Nature Conservancy’s Edge of Appalachia Preserve and has worked with TNC, at the Edge, for over 17 years.

McCormac, Jim – Jim worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for 31 years as a botanist, and later specializing in wildlife diversity projects, especially involving birds. He has authored or coauthored six books, including Birds of Ohio (Lone Pine 2004); and Wild Ohio: The Best of Our Natural Heritage (Kent State University Press 2009). The latter won the 2010 Ohioana Book award. He is a coauthor of the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas II book.

Jim writes a column, Nature, for the Columbus Dispatch, and regularly publishes a natural history blog. He has written numerous articles in a variety of publications, and has delivered hundreds of presentations throughout the eastern United States. He was named 2015 Conservation Communicator of the Year by the Ohio League of Sportsmen. Jim is an avid photographer, shooting a range of natural history subjects. He has had hundreds of photos published in various forums.

Jim’s the guy who came up with this crazy idea of Mothapalooza (thanks Jim!) and he is a big part of the event every year; helping to plan it and then working as the event’s Emcee, a Field Guide and usually lots of other stuff.

McShaffrey, Dave – Dave McShaffrey has been teaching biology at Marietta College since 1989. He co-directs the Institute of Arthropod Research and manages the Barbara A. Beiser Field station. He has BS and MS degrees in aquatic biology from the University of Akron and a PhD in Entomology from Purdue. 

His research includes water pollution biology, biogeography of chironomids and Odonata, functional morphology of mouthparts in Ephemeroptera and other aquatic invertebrates, hydrodynamics of aquatic insects, and forensic entomology. He co-edited and wrote 5 chapters of The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ohio and co-authored the Ohio Division of Wildlife booklet on Odonata. He has spent over 6 months in Central America co-leading classes in biology and leadership. His photographs have appeared in numerous field guides and textbooks, and he teaches a class in scientific imaging. 

He is currently involved in an ATBI of Marietta College’s Beiser Field Station and in studying UV florescence in organisms.

Raterman, Greg – Greg worked for 36 years as a Supervisor/ Industrial Engineer. His retirement eight years ago allowed him more time to pursue his love of nature. He hikes with fellow nature lovers about twice a week to learn more about and photograph all aspects of nature. His yard has been called a junior arboretum. Greg is a member of the Ohio Lepidopterists board, is chairman of its Butterfly Observers Group, and volunteers for Columbus Metro Parks in the butterfly monitoring project. 

He got involved with moths six years ago and is continually improving his night light setup and photography equipment. He has recorded more than 800 species of moths in his yard and neighborhood, and currently has more than 200 photos on the Moth Photographers Group website. 

Reid, Fiona A. – Fiona has written and/or illustrated numerous works, including A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico, The Golden Guide to Bats of the World, and Mammals of the Neotropics (volumes 1–3). Her most recent book is thePeterson Field Guide to Mammals. For these projects she spent many years capturing small mammals and drawing them directly from life. She studied natural history at King’s College, Cambridge University as an undergraduate, and completed a Masters Degree in Neurobiology and Behavior at SUNY, Stony Brook University, New York. 

Fiona is a Departmental Associate in Mammalogy at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the Royal Ontario Museum. She has led nature tours for the past three decades, showing tourists the mammals and other wildlife of diverse lands from Sri Lanka to Alaska and Argentina. She also runs and operates Batwatch tours to Nicaragua and Brazil. 

Her interest in moths developed during nocturnal forays for bats and other mammals around the world, particularly during survey work in Amazonian Ecuador. In recent years she has spent her summer nights prowling her own garden and testing out diurnal pollinator plants on nocturnal visitors, in order to develop the perfect “moth garden.” Her back yard is a 26-acre patch of hardwood forest, ponds and swamp on the Niagara Escarpment near Toronto, Ontario.

Rothschild, Elisabeth – Elisabeth graduated from Antioch College with a double major in chemistry and biology and Wright State University with a Masters in Biology. She worked as an Environmental Specialist with Ohio EPA for ten years.

She is currently a NAI Certified Interpretive Host and Interpretive Guide. She volunteers with Five Rivers Metroparks, Centerville Washington Twp. Park District, and the Marianist Environmental Education Center (MEEC), where she conducts butterfly surveys and lectures on pollinators, including gardening for wildlife.

Elisabeth raised her first moth at age six – a Wooly Bear in her tiny NYC apartment. As a volunteer for the past 7 years at Cox Arboretum’s Butterfly House, that initial interest has exploded into a full-blown passion for raising and studying Leps. She generously shares her enthusiasm and knowledge on moths, butterflies and a wide variety of other natural history subjects.

Shafer, Marcey – Marcey Shafer is a Naturalist at Clear Creek Metro Park. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and has been working as a Naturalist, in Central and Southeast Ohio, for nearly 15 years. Marcey is fascinated by the interconnections that occur in Ohio’s diverse ecosystems and loves sharing and exploring nature with park visitors of all ages.

Marcey leads Metro Parks volunteers to monitor a butterfly transect and to monitor the forest for hemlock woolly adelgid. She has also led frog and toad calling surveys. She loves all the parts of the forest but has a special passion for everything nocturnal and reptiles and amphibians. Marcey served on the steering committee for the Hocking Hills Chapter of OCVN (Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists). She has co-led herpetology sessions for this group and a salamander session for the 2015 State OCVN conference.

Sharkey, Colleen – Colleen Sharkey is an environmental educator and naturalist. She is also currently working on a Master of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University, focused on native pollinator conservation through education and outreach efforts. Colleen is developing a pollinator garden curriculum guide for educators working with students in school yard gardens and habitat areas, while also assisting with a study on creating pollinator habitat in utility right-of-way areas. A true generalist, Colleen began with an interest in birding years ago, but moths captured her attention while an intern at Clear Creek Metro Park. Lately, she is tinkering with macro photography and drawing to improve her native bee identification skills. If and when there is any spare time, she also loves backpacking, trail running, gardening, and climbing. 

Spring, MaLisa – MaLisa is the State Coordinator for the Ohio Dragonfly Survey and Vice President of the Ohio Odonata Society. MaLisa has a Masters of Science in Entomology from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Marietta College. She has worked on several projects including bee richness and floral use, ladybeetle diversity, and mangrove restoration in abandoned shrimp farms. She has been an avid participant/guide at Mothapalooza for several years and enjoys instilling the excitement for moths and many six legged creatures in the participants.

Wright-Strauss, Robyn – Robyn is the Chief Naturalist with the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System in Adams County, Ohio. She leads the Environmental Education program for the Edge which contacts all 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders in Adams County. During the summer, she is conducting a science-based day camp for local kids. In between times, she is raising caterpillars, botanizing, and learning about all the amazing things that make their home on the Edge.

Robyn has a degree from Hocking College in Natural and Historical Interpretation and has worked at Wahkeena Nature Preserve in Sugar Grove, Ohio, Camp Oty’Okwa in Hocking County, and the Wayne National Forest in Nelsonville, Ohio. Robyn has volunteered for the Franklin County Metro Parks, Hocking County Soil and Water, and enjoys participating in Christmas Bird Counts and other citizen science projects.

Your Mothapalooza planning committee: Mary Ann Barnett, Jim McCormac, Elisabeth Rothschild, Colleen Sharkey, Judy Ganance, John Howard, Jason Larson, Diane Brooks, Sallie Miller, Marcey Shafer and Kim Banks.