Alumni 2011

Meet the Speakers


My name is Paul Barber.  I am a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in natural resources and business.  Growing up in upstate New York, I have always had a love for the outdoors.  My real areas of interest are soil and water conservation and management.  I also enjoy playing soccer and basketball.

Presentation: The Living Soil


Hey, my name is Jake Benedict and I am a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences majoring in International Agriculture and Rural Development and (hopefully) double majoring in Applied Economics and Management as well. Although my major’s name is long, it is pretty easy- I want to help fight poverty. I spent this summer working for a massive tomato grower in South Africa that uses a sustainable approach to growing. I have always had a passion for the natural world though. I grew up in South Carolina and Pennsylvania, knee deep in streams and lost in the woods. When I was growing up, I had no fewer than twenty frogs, snakes, lizards and everything in between as pets at a time. Now, although I focus on human issues, I still have a passion for everything plant, animal and otherwise.

Presentation: Fungus Among-us!


Enrico Bonatti is an Entomology and A.E.M. major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; since a very young age he has been very interested in social insects such as ants and bees and their behavior.  At Cornell University he has been involved with research on aggressive and altruistic behaviors of paper wasps. Enrico has travelled a lot throughout many countries and learned about several cultures and is now very excited to share his enthusiasm about social insects with children of all ages.

Presentation: Sociality in Insects


Hi! My name is Emma Brofsky. I am a junior Biology major in CALS and also pursuing a minor in Global Health. This year I will be conducting research in fruit fly reproductive genetics. This past summer I worked as a science camp counselor at Cornell and had a blast exploring everything from birds and reptiles to my new favorite animal, hedgehogs, with my campers. I am really excited to be involved in the Naturalist Outreach Program and share my passion for science with you!

Presentation: Animal adaptations through the seasons



My name is Casey Call and I am a senior at Cornell University majoring in Agricultural science.  I have been surrounded by agriculture since birth, having been born and raised on a 4th generation family owned vegetable and grain farm.  I started harvesting onions and hoeing cabbage as a young boy, and worked my way up to running a pea harvester, grain combine and other large farm equipment.  My personal farm experience has given me insight into the realization that it is critical that a balance be obtained between viable economic farming practices, the environment and the demands of the consuming world.  After graduation, I hope to pursue graduate studies in vegetable breeding and genetics and ultimately aspire to use my education to both improve plants and advance the field of sustainable agriculture.

Presentation: Fruit


Frances Chen is a pre-veterinary senior studying Animal Science and Biological Sciences. She currently conducts genetics and molecular biology research at Cornell, but has always been passionate about wildlife and animal behavior. Frances is from Colorado and enjoys long distance running and outdoor activities- most recently hiking up Colorado’s highest peaks. She is currently raising a black labrador retriever named Rooney as a seeing eye dog puppy in pre-training for Guiding Eyes for the Blind and is enthusiastic about sharing her passions with the public, especially with kids.

Presentation: Wild canids


Jeff Clement is a senior majoring in Science of Natural & Environmental Systems. He is a local Ithacan who enjoyed summers at the Cayuga Nature Center and taking boat trips on Cayuga Lake. He attended Montessori, Dewitt, and Ithaca High School and looks forward to getting to know some of the youth in his home community. Jeff loves soccer, waterskiing, traveling, collecting firewood, and nights in the hottub.

Presentation: Invasive species

Heather Connelly

Heather Connelly is a Phd student in the Department of Entomology researching methods to control grape pests using native predator species. Growing up she probably spent more time outside than in and could usually be found flipping over logs and rocks or tending her menagerie of pets.  Heather is grateful that she has turned her passion for nature into a career and can’t wait to share it with you.

Presentation: Good Bugs and Bad Bugs


Howdy! My name is Dean Gamache (I’m the one with the cowboy hat) and as I bet you have guessed, I am a true fan of all things natural, wild, and free! Long story short, I grew up in the wilderness of the southwestern United States working hand and paw with the land, learning about the Natural History of our Country. There is nothing that I love more than reading the landscape and explaining the geological history that underlies it. It will be my pleasure to share with you my knowledge of  the Natural History, Geology, and Paleontology of Central New York this year! –Thank You!

Presentation: Fossils


Rebecca Hagge is a junior majoring in animal science with an interest in veterinary medicine. Because of her constant exposure to wildlife and house pets growing up she’s always known she wanted to work with animals. She’s completed research on marine fishes with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is currently a lab assistant at the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates working with the ichthyology collection. She plans on continuing to Veterinary School after graduating Cornell and pursuing further qualifications in the practice of exotic pet and zoo medicine. The oldest of four siblings, she loves children and has volunteered as a teaching assistant for several years in her local church. Her free time is spent practicing and performing in Cornell Big Red Marching Band Color Guard.

Presentation: Adaptations in Birds



Jacob Hurst is a junior majoring in Entomology and Plant Science.  He studies running and jumping in spiders using high speed cameras. He grew up in Central California and has always had a passion for nature and the outdoors. He is very excited to share his enthusiasmfor biology with others!

Presentation: Protective coloration and shape (crypsis and mimicry)


Sarah Jandricic.  As a 5th year PhD Student in Entomology at Cornell University, I investigate interactions between natural enemies and their pest prey in greenhouses in order to help growers produce pesticide-free crops.  I have a general passion for all 6 legged critters, and have enjoyed sharing this passion with other scientists, growers (through interactive workshops and discussion groups), and the general public during Cornell’s annual Entomology open house.    I hope to continue working in the field of biological control (the use of predatory insects to control insect pests) throughout my career.

Presentation:  Predators and Their Prey: Co-evolution and Adaptations


Shannah Johnson.  Like many of my peers, I have been happily neck-deep in observing and working with members of the animal kingdom since before learning how to tie my shoes! Hailing from Houston, Texas, I came to Cornell as an Animal Science major and along the way picked up Biology as a second major with a concentration in Animal Physiology.  As an aspiring veterinarian, I am fascinated by the functional morphology of different animal species and how they have adapted to fill such unique ecological niches throughout the globe.  The coolest thing I have ever done was take a field ecology course this past winter, which allowed me to study a fascinating variety of African wildlife in their exotic habitat!

Presentations: “How to Eat and Avoid Being Eaten (Mammals)” and “Ecological Adaptations in Birds (with Rebecca Hagge)”


Hello, my name is Meredith Kueny. I’m a senior at Cornell studying the science of natural and environmental systems. I’m very passionate about protecting and preserving our natural areas for future generations, and hope to eventually pursue a career where I help communities live more sustainably. On campus I’m a mentor to incoming students and work in a lab studying various aspects of forest ecology. Outside of class I love spending time on the lake and travelling.

Presentation: Seed Dispersal


Hi! My name is Anna Kusler and I am a senior in Natural Resources with a concentration in Applied Ecology. A childhood spent in rural upstate New York has led me to be extremely passionate about wildlife and the natural world, with particular interests in animal behavior, wildlife conservation, and ecology.  This passion has led me to many reaches of the planet, from studying sea turtles on the beaches of Costa Rica to an honors research project investigating cheetah territoriality in the Republic of Botswana. I hope that my honors research will be the first step towards a future career as a big cat biologist! When not out exploring and looking for wildlife, I spend my time hiking, fishing, canoeing, getting dirty, painting, and playing basketball and soccer. On campus, I participate in the Cornell Herpetological Society, the Wildlife Society, and am captain of the club basketball team!

Presentation:  Reptile Diversity

Hi! My name is Anna Plattner (pictured on far right) and I am a senior Natural Resources major with a concentration in Applied Ecology. Since a young age I have had a passion for the forest and the outdoors that has led me on some exciting adventures including programs studying desert ecology in the Sonora desert, whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea, and forest ecology in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This past Spring I studied abroad in Baja Calirofrnia Sur, Mexico, and completed research on bioacoustics of marine mammals! Since I sing in the Cornell Chorus and an a cappella group at Cornell, I really enjoyed interpreting the dolphin and whale songs. I would like to continue to study these amazing creatures, and I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for nature with other students!

Presentation: Whale and Dolphin Adaptations to Marine Environments

Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds is a junior Entomology Major with an individual focus on ants. He is from Las Cruces, New Mexico and has been on the entomology track since the second grade. He has spent the last three years studying social paper wasps, honeybees, and most recently, the ant fauna of Northern Florida. He has been a highly active member of the Cornell Undergraduate Entomology Club (Snodgrass and Wigglesworth Club) and has instructed several outreach events in and around Ithaca as well as New Mexico. Some of his future goals include collegiate education but will certainly not be limited to just that. His enthusiasm for ants will not go unnoticed.

Presentation: Ants


Hello! My name is Chris Roh, a senior majoring in Biological Engineering and Computational Biology. One of my many passions is learning from nature. I love studying why organisms are shaped in certain ways, why they move in certain ways and how they do it. Recently I was amazed by various ways that spiders move on ground, water and even air. I am very thankful that I have this opportunity to share my interest on spider’s locomotion.

Presentation: Spider Biology and Locomotion

Erik Smith

Erik Smith is a Ph.D student studying onion thrips dispersal in onion crops.  He was raised in nearby Interlaken, NY, and growing up in such a rural area imparted a deep appreciation for agricultural ecology.  When he isn’t focusing on his studies, he enjoys gardening, baking, playing any one of his instruments, and he can be found taking in an indie rock concert if the right band is in town.

Presentation:  Backyard Insects



Jennifer Sun is a junior Science of Natural and Environmental Systems major, concentrating in Environmental Biology. Her interest in environmental science and biology encompasses broad interests in aquatic ecosystems, environmental chemistry, and microbiology. Her love of science stems from both the fantastic logic and organization of biological systems, as well as the beauty and diversity of natural environments. Two summers ago she studied a new invasive invertebrate in the Great Lakes, Hemimysis anomala, at the Cornell Biological Field Station, which introduced her to the wonderful world of field research! Currently, she works in a bioremediation lab at Cornell. She is particularly interested in applied environmental science research – looking at biological and chemical systems not only for scientific discovery, but also for improvement of environmental and human health. She is excited to share with students her love for environmental biology, and show them how fun and meaningful science can be!

Presentation: Invasive species in the Great Lakes.


My name is Jessica Tingle, and I am a senior majoring in biology with a focus on ecology and behavior. I have always been especially interested in reptiles and amphibians, starting from the time I was three or four years old and could catch them in the creek and woods near my house. Since I want to spread my love of these amazing animals to others, I have done a lot of outreach work with the Cornell Herpetological Society, and hope to continue doing outreach work with people of all ages.

Presentation: Reptiles and Amphibians


Hello. My name is Rakim Turnipseed and I am originally from the sunshine state of Florida! I completed my undergraduate degree in Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida. I am now a graduate student in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University. I am interested in biological control of fruit pests, as well as extension entomology. I aspire to become a research entomologist for the government or a university/extension entomology professor. In my spare time I like to continue my ten year tenure playing classical saxophone

Presentation:  Bees



I am Zeyu Yao, a junior studying environmental science and development sociology. I was born in China and lived there for 12 years before I came to the U.S. I am interested in water related environmental problems, especially the drinking water problems in China. This summer, I spent two months in Thailand doing research on the indigenous people in the Lower Mekong Basin for IUCN Water Programme. I really liked the working environment of the office, because despite their cultural and language differences, people from different parts of the world come together to solve the environmental problems in Southeast Asia. I hope that in the future, I could have a chance to work for the United Nations and international environmental organizations such as the IUCN, and be able to work in different countries.

Presentation: Turtles