Meet This Year’s Speakers!

Meet some of the talented students who have been involved in this program over the years.  Based on informal surveys, approximately 41% of the former participants in this program go on to teach in classes, become involved in other informal education programs, museum studies, join other science outreach programs, start their own outreach program, start educational programs or camps, or other otherwise become involved in other aspects of science education.  This is a training opportunity for STEM teachers of the future!

This year’s speakers:

Amanda Adair – I am a senior Animal Science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  I am especially interested in wildlife conservation, public engagement, and youth education.  I am from Long Island, New York and during the summer I work as a camp counselor at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County at their 272-acre Farm and Education Center.  I get to spend each day helping my campers enjoy science experiments, field games, arts and crafts, music lessons, and hands-on farm animal experiences.  I also was able to share my love of birds with them by bringing in my own 2 pet birds, Chicken the cockatiel and Dumpling the ring-necked dove.  The past summers on the farm have sparked my interest in working with youth and educating the public about important issues affecting our environment, and I am very excited to pursue this as a career.

Topic:  Bird migration


Matthew Barrett – I am a first-year Ph.D student at Cornell studying entomology. I recently graduated from the University of Scranton with a bachelors degree in neuroscience and am excited to be continuing my education. Outside of school I enjoy running, backpacking, and playing guitar. Besides my passion for science and insects, I have found a new passion for teaching science and enjoy advocating for the subject. I have had experience assisting teachers in introduction courses such as General Biology to more advanced courses such as Research Methods in Neuroscience. I hope to continue gaining experience through outreach programs and use what I learn to become a better advocate for science.

Topic: Natural Enemies – Beneficial Arthropod Predators



My name is Caroline Campbell and I am a third year Environmental and Sustainability Sciences student minoring in Climate Change. I grew up in southern Maine where I was exposed to the outdoors at an early age. Since first learning about environmental science from a local land trust program, my passion for the natural world has found its way into nearly every aspect of my life. My efforts are now focused on researching biocontrols of invasive plants and teaching outdoor education classes at Cornell. This semester, I hope to combine my love for science, nature, and teaching to inspire the next generation of scientists. 

Topic: Invasive Terrestrial Plants



Eliza Fisher –  I’m a senior Environmental and Sustainability Science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I grew up in rural/suburban New York where I spent as much time outside as possible. I enjoy sharing my love and knowledge of nature with scouts and other youth in camp and workshop settings. I was lucky enough to work at a nature-based nursery school during the summer in addition to my farm job and enjoyed working with some very enthusiastic kids! In the future I want to  continue to be involved in education related to the environment.

Topic: Reptiles & Amphibians



Michael Gildersleeve – I grew up in upstate New York exploring nature and have been working with plants since I was 10. I am a plant science major at Cornell University, this past summer I worked at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL. There I found my passion for space crop production for missions to the moon and Mars. My goal is to be a scientific crew member on future lunar missions.

Topic: Plants




Grace Hageman – I am a junior majoring in Plant Sciences and Spanish. Growing up in the farmlands of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I gained a deep appreciation for the treasures in my backyard, especially the flowers in my mom’s garden and the fields behind my house. I also am fascinated with fossils.This led to my need to understand exactly how the creatures around us came to be. In the future, I hope to combine my love of plants with my interest in the history of the Earth.

Topic: Fossils




Amanda Heitzman- I am a junior at Cornell University majoring in Plant Sciences with a minor in Entomology. I was born and raised here in Ithaca, NY, and being surrounded by Ithaca’s abundance of beautiful and educational natural areas inspired me to come to Cornell. My concentration is Public Garden Management, which I chose because of my experience working at the Cornell Botanic Gardens and volunteering at the Sciencenter throughout high school and college. One of my favorite parts of working at these places is that they allow me to interact with many members of the public, and witness just how beneficial a science education is, and how happy science makes people. I really enjoy sharing my love of science with others, and hope to continue to inspire others to become more involved in the natural environment.

Topic: Pollination



Lilac Hong –, I’m a senior entomology major, education minor. I’m currently working in Ann Hajek’sbiological control lab, studying entomological pathogens. I love outdoor activities (especially trails in Ithaca!) and trying new things. My dream is to help youths (especially in my native country, China) to get more exposure to learn about nature.

Topic: Camouflage & Mimicry





Vanessa Lau is a sophomore undergraduate studying Plant Sciences and minoring in Entomology and Climate Change in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, she is fascinated by the ecological contrasts  that Ithaca has to offer.  I am interested in human-environmental interactions. Always looking to explore new things, Vanessa is a Rawlings Presidential Research Scholar dedicated to discovery and sharing her love of science with others. 

Topic: TBD




Nathan Laurenz is a 19 year old studying entomology.  He has always been fond of bugs and he started collecting them from his home in rural Michigan as a kid.  From there his passion brought him to become a beekeeper and start an apiary.  His biggest interest now is mass-rearing insects for use as protein and he spent last summer working for a company breeding mealworms in Vienna.

Topic: Insects




Yuan Li – I am a senior entomology student studying at Cornell University. I have a broad interest in insects’ relationships with other organisms, especially plant-insect interactions and vector-borne diseases. I did an internship in a weed lab during last summer, where I participated in a project on milkweed and the conservation of Monarch butterflies. I’m also currently helping with the research of mosquitoes on their roles as vectors of disease. Since insects are the most diverse group among all animals, the study of them can absolutely provide us with a more complete understanding of the world.

Topic: Insect Metamorphosis & Ecological Significance




Zoe Loomis,- I am a Junior studying Environmental Science with a concentration in Agroecology. My initial interest in ecology was spurred by my summers spent exploring the Adirondack mountains, forests, lakes, and creeks as well as trips to the woods outside Philadelphia every week at my K-8 school. Recently, I became more interested in the relationship between modern agriculture and the environment and I am studying how to make agriculture more similar to, and healthier for ecological systems.

Topic:  Food Webs in the Fingerlakes



Maxwell Marwin,-  I am an outdoor enthusiast – hiking, biking, and fishing the Adirondacks and Catskills whenever I can. I was very active in scouting, having achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Scouting taught me the importance of sharing my passion of outdoor biology with others! I am currently an Animal Science major hoping to go on to vet school and a career working with wildlife.

Topic: Steam Wildlife





Joy McCusker is a graduate of the University of Delaware where she earned a degree in Agriculture and Natural Resources, with minors in Landscape Horticulture and English. Joy was awarded the Longwood Gardens Summer Scholar Award. As a summer scholar, she preserved Longwood Gardens Horticultural Legacy through digital media, shadowed Master Gardeners in the Chrysanthemum house, and helped prepare for the annual Chrysanthemum Festival. She hopes to continue connecting people to nature through writing and education.

Topic: Seed Dispersal




Olivia Piscano – I am a senior studying Entomology at Cornell University. I have a broad interest in how the world of insects impacts our daily lives! I am particularly interested in medical entomology and the spread of vector-borne disease, as well as the use of pesticides and their impact on human health. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, where I enjoy spending lots of time outdoors running, swimming, and biking with my family and friends. I have always valued mentorship and education, and am passionate about educating the next generation on the impact arthropods have on our daily lives and the environment in which we live.

Topic: Beneficial and Harmful Insects




Emma Railey – I am a senior from North Carolina studying Environmental and Sustainability Sciences. Throughout college, I have worked in Hawaii, Washington, California, and New York on a variety of aquatic and marine research projects. I am especially captivated by ocean ecosystems and am pursuing a career as a marine biologist. I love anything that gets me outside or on the water and am excited to share my passion for the natural world with you all!

Topic: The importance of the Cayuga Lake Watershed




Kelly Stanton –  I am pursuing a Plant Sciences degree, with a concentration in sustainable plant production and a minor in agribusiness management. Growing up on my family farm in Feura Bush, NY has shaped me into the person I am and driven me towards a passion for agriculture. I’ve been helping my mom in our greenhouses full of annual flowers since I was about three years old, and from those many years have developed a deep interest in horticulture, specifically flower production. I hope to own my own business one day in the horticultural industry and continue to follow in my mom’s footsteps. With that, I may take over the flower production on my family’s farm and expand it to greater levels with a larger customer base, such as wedding venues and events.

Topic: Plant Defenses



Trey Ramsey – Is a graduate student in Cornell’s Horticulture section, studying Public Garden Leadership. They are preparing for a career where they can combine their love of science with their interest in diversity and outreach. Trey’s interest in nature started young, playing in their backyard in Atlanta, and has continued to this day.

Topic: Carnivorous Plants




Katie Sims is a senior studying environmental and sustainability sciences who is interested in forest ecology and conservation social sciences. She has worked in the forests of the lower Hudson Valley, Central New York, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Her favorite pastime is teaching and learning in the woods. Academically, she’s interested in how new trees grow, after major forest harvests and disturbances, as well as in old-growth forests. 

Topic: The Life Cycles of Trees





Markella Tsalikis –  I am a junior studying Environmental and Sustainability Sciences at Cornell. I have a love for the natural world and protecting it, which is why i am concentrating in Policy and Governance and plan on pursuing a career in environmental law. I am excited to share my knowledge about our environment and hope to inspire others with it!

Topic: Mammal Skulls





Anna Ullmann – I am pursuing the Environmental and Sustainability Sciences major and Climate Change minor at Cornell University. I grew up in Ithaca, NY, but today I love to take my passion of wildlife conservation around the world. Over the past couple years, I had to opportunity to travel to Thailand, Borneo, and the Republic of Congo to work with Asian elephants, the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples, and chimpanzees at the Jane Goodall Institute respectively. In light of these experiences, I  hope to combine my interests of working with people as well as the environment, in order to facilitate a positive and respectful relationship.

Topic: Nocturnal Animals




My name is Maia Zhang, and I’m a junior studying math, French, and education. I’ve always been fascinated with the power of STEM in education. While I am a math major, science and the scientific method are an inseparable part of my education and personality.

Topic: Spiders



Naturalist Outreach students in 2018: click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2017, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2016, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2015, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2014, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2013, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2012, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2011, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2010, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2009, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2008, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2007, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2006, click here

Naturalist Outreach students in 2005, click here


Navigate to Main “About Us” Page to read about our Directors.
Navigate to Main “Presentations” Page.