Director, Dr. Linda S. Rayor

Scientific outreach permeates all aspects of Dr. Linda S. Rayor’s career.  In 1998, Linda started an K-12 informal science education outreach program, the Naturalist Outreach Program which sends Cornell University undergraduate and graduate students into classrooms and community groups to talk about natural history, ecology, and conservation issues.  She teaches an innovative interdisciplinary experiential seminar on how to do effective scientific outreach and organize biological 0028_06_045outreach events, ‘Naturalist Outreach Practicum’ [Entomology 3350].  The course teaches the college students to communicate science with passion and clarity in classrooms, museum, and outreach settings.  To date, Dr. Rayor and 324 Cornell students have given over 2800 presentations and reached over 114,000 people.  Her outreach program enhances science curricula in Central NY schools and increases engagement in science, while simultaneously inspiring a generation of engaged scientists with enthusiasm for scientific outreach as a form of civic engagement.

In association with NYS 4H/ Cornell Cooperative Extension and Dr. Carol Jennings of Park Media Lab at Ithaca College, Dr. Rayor has been producing interesting and gorgeous 3 to 12-min STEM videos based on the Naturalist Outreach student’s biology presentations that are posted on Youtube (search for naturalistoutreach).  Recent topics include winter adaptations, pollination, arthropod predators, arachnid diversity, animal architecture, snakes, and plant defenses.

Linda initiated and been one of the a principle organizers for Cornell University’s Insectapalooza, an annual 1-day Insect Fair for the last 11 years.  Insectapalooza attracts ~2,500 people, and is one of the largest science outreach events at Cornell.

Dr. Linda Rayor was one of two on-air scientists on the Discovery Science TV show ‘Monster Bug Wars’ for two seasons.  Monster Bug Wars is a quality show about the behavior of predatory arthropods (Monster Bug Wars  The shows can be viewed on Youtube where she recently discovered herself dubbed into Spanish and Polish.  She is a popular lecturer on spider behavior around the country.

Dr. Rayor won the 2015 Animal Behavior Society career teaching award ‘Penny Bernstein Distinguished Teaching Award’ for sustained excellence in animal behavior instruction in Anchorage, Alaska.  She also won the Entomology Society of America (Eastern Branch) Distinguished Teaching Award in 2016.

To learn more about Dr. Rayor:

2019. Sharing, Spreading and Supporting Science Is ‘Civic Activism,’ Professor Says. Cornell Daily Sun, 25 March 2019, by Deanna Gonzalez

2018. What She Said Innovation Cafe – Women In Science & Technology Interview.  ‘Social Spiders with Dr Linda Rayor – What She Said Interview’.

Linda Rayor discovers passion studying spiders:


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