Alumni 2009

Meet the Speakers


Maxine Ames is a senior biological sciences major.  She is particularly interested in neurobiology and behavior and is pursuing a career in medicine. She loves teaching and is looking forward to sharing and instilling an enthusiasm for science with others!
Presentation: Predators


Ileana NOP pic

leana Betancourt is a sophomore Science of Natural and Environmental Systems (SNES) Major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at Cornell. She has always had a keen interest for nature and serves as Vice President for the Society for Natural Resources Conservation on campus. Ileana enjoys many outdoor snowboarding, soccer, and sailing.
Presentation: Mimicry


Kendal Brunette: I am a senior majoring in Natural Resources with a minor in Education.  My career goal is to be an environmental journalist or an environmental science teacher at the elementary level.  Coming from the beautiful state of Wyoming, my ties with nature are very strong.  It is my passion to spread my love of the natural world and the knowledge needed to conserve it to young children.  I have already had some experience in outreach.  Over the past few years I have aided in a 4th grade class, tutored a high school senior through the college application process, acted as a camp counselor at the Green River Valley Land Trust Nature Camp for elementary and middle school kids, volunteered with the Ithaca Children’s Garden, tutored at Louis Gossett Residential Center for incarcerated teenage boys, and volunteered in the YOURS 4H afterschool program for local middle school students. Last year, as part of my education minor, I developed an environmental science curriculum for middle school-aged children.  I love working with children and am excited to share my passion!
Presentation: Fire ecology


Rick Cicciarelli: I am a behaviorist and my interests lie in group organization, cooperation and communication, particularly as it relates to social insects.  My experience has mainly been with honeybees and with beekeeping, however I am also interested in other groups of social insects including bumblebees and ants.
Presentation: Bees

My name is Michelle Chi and I am currently a senior undergraduate student that has a strong interest in mushrooms and other types of fungi.  I would really enjoy talking about my fascination with mushrooms and their interactions with plants and insects and how they can be beneficial or poisonous to us.
Presentation: Mushrooms


James Costaras is a junior majoring in Biology and minoring in AEM.  He has tutored children in grades K-6 for six years at Adventures in Learning, an after-school educational enrichment program.  He enjoys fishing and marine life and wants to share this interest with others.
Presentation: Fish


My name is Sarah Cudney, and I am a sophomore pre-veterinary student majoring in animal science and biology, originally from Boulder, Colorado. I have a lifelong curiousity for the natural sciences and a passion for animals of the mammalian and avian varities.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share my zeal for science with students around Ithaca!
Presentation: Mammalian locomotion

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Hello! My name is Alex Dymersky.  I have always loved nature and been an avid outdoorsman. My two favorite hobbies are fly fishing and caving.  I started fly fishing for native Brook Trout in mountain streams when I was eight years old.  I started caving when I was thirteen and became the president of my grotto (caving club) of 50 people when I was eighteen.  We have mapped hundreds of new caves in Virginia and participated in many endangered bat counts and conservation efforts.  I also white water kayak and bird watch, along with numerous other outdoor activities.
Presentation: Bats

dakota and i
My name is Brooke Filer. I am a senior in Animal Science Pre-vet.  I transferred to Cornell my junior year from Morrisville State College, where I received an Associate degree in Biology.  I live in Upstate New York in the small town of Salem, where I graduated high school with less than 60 students. I own four horses, which is why I became very interested in becoming an equine veterinarian.

Amy Green

Hello, my name is Amy Green, and I am a senior in both the Entomology and Biology departments. While growing up on a goat farm in Michigan, I gained an appreciation for the natural world, especially animals such as insects, reptiles, and mammals, and I always had a desire to share my fascination with others. My future career goals are to be a veterinarian, a professor, or both.
Presentation: Plant-insect interactions

Erin Marteal
Erin Marteal is a master’s student studying outreach and education in public gardens, and have a special interest in sustainable food gardening.  She loves helping others discover how fascinating plants are – and how to grow them in their classroom or own backyard using cool, innovative methods!
Presentation: Plant propagation


Peter Meng is a junior majoring in Biology and Entomology.  For the past two summers, he has been researching the genetic underpinnings of depression and bipolar disorder in the Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology.  He is currently studying DNA binding proteins implicated in dementia and neurodegenerative diseases.  Outside the lab, Peter enjoys studying ecology and exploring the North Shore of Minnesota.
Presentation: Invasive species

Joanne Miller
Joanna Miller is a senior biology major. She loves basically everything about biology, but is most interested in sustainable agriculture, microbiology, and genetics.  She is a member of Dilmun Hill, the student farm, and loves growing and eating food, as well as teaching others about the wonders of gardening.  Her talk this semester will focus on fireflies and bioluminescence.
Presentation: Fireflies


Lori Moshman is a sophomore biology major concentrating in plant science and entomology.  Her interests include agriculture, plant-pest interactions, and animal behavior.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.
Presentation: Frogs


Elena Olsen: I am a junior majoring in Entomology and Plant Science.  I am lucky to have the opportunity to study organisms I have been fascinated with since I was a small child.  From playing with bugs in the backyard to working on an organic farm plants and insects have always been important to me. Currently I am doing research on changes in the behavior and physiology of herbivorous insects in response to a host plant’s chemical defenses.
Presentation: Plant-insect interactions


Michael Orr: Throughout my life I have always held a keen interest in insects and their kin, and for this reason I came to Cornell to study entomology. Although my primary research has been on bees, I have extensive knowledge of spiders from both the spider biology course and my current position as a teacher’s assistant for that course. In my involvement with the Naturalist Speakers Bureau, I hope to impart my knowledge on the subject of spiders to other interested individuals.
Presentation: Spiders


Jeff Petracca: I am a junior entomology, plant science, and biometry triple major, and I am completely fascinated by nature with interests in math, physics, chemistry, and especially biology, biochemistry, genetics and physiology! I grew up in Huntington, Long Island, and developed a passion for insects when I was very little. When I was twelve, I started volunteering at Sweetbriar Nature Center in their butterfly vivarium, which is basically a greenhouse-sized building where the public can come and walk around through beautiful plants and live butterflies! I worked there every summer until I was 18, and honed my skills in rearing butterflies and moths, and in communicating science to the public. Butterflies and moths are certainly my favorite insects, but since I’ve been at Cornell, I’ve grown to love all insects, especially flies and wasps!
Presentation: Butterflies


Derek Plotkowski:  I am a Sophomore Biology Major in the Plant Biology Program of Study.  My hometown is near Detroit, Michigan.  I’ve always been surrounded by plants- my mom worked at a florist when I was young, my grandparents had an orchard in their back yard, and I worked at a retail greenhouse for five years.  I have worked in the New York State Department of Horticulture Bulb Research Program.  Through so much exposure I’ve grown a love for plants, and my stomach has helped cultivate that love of plants towards a love of fruit.
Presentation: Fruits


Laura Seeholzer is a senior double majoring in Biology (with a focus on neurobiology) and Entomology while minoring in global health. Canoeing trips through the Canadian national parks first sparked Laura’s interest in nature. This interest became focused on birds and insects during middle school when her grandfather and older brother would take her out bird watching. Her favorite birds (that she’s seen) are the great horned owl, the African fire finch, and the saddle-billed stork. Her favorite insects are stink bugs (Pentatomidae) and assassin bugs (Reduviidae).
Presentation: Bird migrations


My name is Mike Syversen. For as long as I can remember I have been interested in all things nature. I have an intense care for endangered animal species and their protection along with the protection of their environments.
Presentation: Coming to land

Erin Tower
My name is Erin Tower and I am originally from Buffalo, NY. I am a junior in the Neurobiology and Behavior department here at Cornell and I find it fascinating. I fell in love with biology in 8th grade and I really enjoy looking at interactions between organisms and sharing my passion with everyone I can.
Presentation: Crypsis


Sophie Trowbridge is a junior transfer student studying animal science and is pursuing a career in veterinary medicine. Having grown-up in Ithaca, she is looking forward to bringing a passion for science to her local school system!
Presentation: Skulls


Susan Villarreal is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Entomology and is interested in the acoustic behavior of insects. She believes singing insects like grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids are a great way to get people interested in the diversity of insects in their own backyard as well as gain a greater understanding of the behavior of animals.
Presentation: Insect communication

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Andrew Zuza is a junior Science of Earth Systems major with a concentration in geology. He has always loved the outdoors and spends his free time climbing, backpacking, and backcountry skiing. This love led him study the Earth systems and pursue a career as a geologist. He spent this past summer working in Argentina and studying the South American Andes. Andrew hopes to spread his love of the earth and its history.
Presentation: Fossils