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Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


(Speaker Series) Neurodivergence and Entomology: A Panel Discussion

Join us for a special panel discussion about the intersection of neurodivergence and entomology. Speakers in various stages of their careers will describe not just the challenges they have faced as neurodivergent entomologists, but also the unique skills and interests they posses because of their neurodivergence. Speakers will discuss a variety of neurodivergent conditions including dyslexia, dyscalculia, autism, and ADHD. Attendees are encouraged to read Why Neurodiversity and Entomology So Often Go Together, written by one of the speakers.

About the speakers:

Dr. Mary Gardiner received her Ph.D. in 2008 and is a Professor in the Department of Entomology at The Ohio State University. Gardiner's Urban Insect Ecology Lab focuses on the ecology and conservation value of urban green spaces including parks, residential sites and vacant land. Much of this research occurs in legacy cities, which are characterized by long-term economic disinvestment and shrinking populations. Current research studies are examining the potential of park reforestation to provide tree-derived ecosystem services, the ability of front yard gardens in lower income neighborhoods to improve bee health and human well being, and the value of municipal greening rebate programs for insect conservation in cities. Mary is also a State Specialist in Extension who involves volunteers in research as community scientists and is active in the Ohio Master Gardener Volunteer Program and Entomology 4H. She teaches graduate courses in presentation skills and grant writing. 

In 2015, she released a book focused on natural enemies and their role in biological control in home gardens titled: Good Garden Bugs: Everything You Need to Know about Beneficial Predatory Insects.

Dr. Alice Laciny is an Austrian entomologist with a PhD from the University of Vienna. Her passions include ants (exploding or otherwise), parasites, neurodiversity in academia, and science education. She enjoys communicating her scientific research through creative writing, such as poetry or short stories for adults and children. She is the author of the Psyche opinion piece Why Neurodiversity and Entomology So Often Go Together

Sara Lalk has been active with forest health surveys and research since 2013. She focused on rapid white oak mortality and Armillaria spp. bioluminescence during her undergraduate career, and transitioned to USDA APHIS PPQ's Pennsylvania Spotted Lanternfly Program following graduation. She is currently a full-time graduate student pursuing a PhD at Clemson University in the Forestry and Environmental Conservation Department with research focusing on invasive species program success predictors. Sara also serves as a full-time Forest Health Research Operations Manager for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services where she monitors invasive species' management programs.