From my early childhood, I have been enthralled by insects and their vast diversity which is unparalleled by any other animal class. Eventually, my fascination with those ubiquitous arthropods lead me to earn my B.S. in Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida. Shortly before taking on my studies at the university, I began my time at the Florida Museum as a volunteer. I started my volunteer work by accessioning donated specimens in the awe-inspiring Lepidoptera collection of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. After being a volunteer for the summer and fall, I started working as an employee in the McGuire Center, spreading and preparing specimens to be curated in the collection. Most days you can still catch me in the collection’s window. Feel free to give me a wave sometime! After about a year, I took on my next great opportunity of working in Jaret Daniel’s lab as a research technician. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure to work in the field, contributing to our understanding of how maintenance along powerline easements affects pollinator ecology. I’ve also had the privilege of surveying for the endangered Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly in the beautiful Florida Keys. The research done by the Daniels Lab is more critical now than ever. In a time when human-mediated pressures such as habitat loss and pollution threaten dwindling species, I am grateful to have the opportunity to play a part in stemming the tide of extinction and preserving the biodiversity that may one day motivate an aspiring young entomologist, just as it did me.
When I’m not at the museum, I enjoy spending my time by maintaining my two honey bee colonies as well as photographing and occasionally illustrating insects and other elements of nature. Follow me on Instagram: @wahs.j.t