GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Naomi Pierce, curator of Lepidoptera at the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology, has been scheduled as the keynote speaker for the Florida Museum of Natural History’s sixth annual ButterflyFest, Oct. 22-23.

ButterflyFest is dedicated to increasing awareness of Florida’s butterflies as fun, fascinating ambassadors to the natural world. Event activities and presentations promote inquiry and provide a call to action for the conservation and preservation of backyard wildlife and habitats.

“We are extremely excited to have Dr. Pierce as our keynote speaker this year,” said Jaret Daniels, Florida Museum assistant director of exhibits and public programs. “Not only is her research groundbreaking, but she speaks of her work with tremendous passion; a joyous intensity that can’t help but spark your interest.”

Pierce’s research focuses on the biodiversity and evolution of insects, especially butterflies and their symbionts, or the organisms they have a relationship with, as well as behavioral ecology.

Through her research, Pierce recently proved Vladimir Nabokov’s theory that Polyammatus blues originated in Asia and traveled to North America via the Bering Strait. She also proved that this group of butterfly species arrived in North America in five separate waves.

Before she began teaching at Harvard in 1990, Pierce was a research lecturer at Christ Church College at Oxford University, a researcher in the university’s department of zoology and an assistant and associate professor at Princeton University. She earned her bachelor’s in biology at Yale University and her doctorate in biology at Harvard.

Pierce has received numerous awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship and MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Senior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows.

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Source: Jaret Daniels, 352-273-2022,
Writer: Alyssa Wang
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,