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Academy Conversation

Join our free informal discussion on the latest science news that affects our everyday lives.

Academy Conversation

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Academy Conversation: Insects in Decline
Saturday August 14th, 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Zoom; free registration required

Insects rule the world, and we are just along for the ride. We rely on them for everything from our morning coffee (pollinators) to red dye in fabric and food (scale insects) to recycling (decomposers). But two frightening trends are occurring: increased global temperatures and decreased insect populations. How are these connected? What do these trends mean for us? And what can we do to improve the situation? Join us for a live, in-person conversation or catch the live stream all about insects in decline.


Karen Verderame, Animal Programs Developer, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Karen Verderame has been at the Academy of Natural Sciences since 2003 and has filled many different roles. Currently, as the Animal Programs Developer, she oversees the daily care, programming and exhibiting of the live animal ambassadors. Throughout her 26 year career, Karen has worked with a variety of taxa including raptors, reptiles, mammals and over 300 species of live invertebrates, which are her specialty. Her passion for invertebrates lead to the creation of the Academy's popular festival Bug Fest and a thriving, growing live invertebrate collection which is used across the Academy's programming.


Jon Gelhaus, Professor, Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Sciences; Curator of Entomology, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Jon Gelhaus is Curator of Entomology at the Academy of Natural Sciences (since 1990), where he chairs the 4 million specimen insect collection and its staff, and where he conducts his research on biodiversity of insects, particularly the megadiverse group called crane flies. He is also a Professor at Drexel University since 2012 in the Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science department, where he supervises the research of three Ph.D. students, and teaches courses in Conservation Biology, Entomology, and Plant and Animal Identification. Jon has traveled worldwide in pursuit of research questions, particularly extensive time exploring in Mongolia, and constantly makes new discoveries of insects to him (and sometimes to the wider world), often even from his own yard and neighborhood in south Jersey.

Isa Betancourt, Curatorial Assistant of Entomology, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Isa Betancourt is a Curatorial Assistant of Entomology at the Academy of Natural Sciences and an avid macro photographer. She is author of the “Backyard Bugs of Philadelphia” book and hosts a weekly insect-themed livestream called the #BugScope to make entomology more accessible. In 2022, she heads off to Indonesian Borneo to conduct research on insects as a Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow.

Tanya Dapkey, Macroinvertebrate Lab Manager, Staff Scientist III, Macroinvertebrate Lab, Watershed Ecology Section, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Tanya Dapkey is the manager for the macroinvertebrate lab for the Watershed Ecology Section of the Patrick Center. She manages all active projects and employees as well as identifies specimens to genus for current projects. Tanya started working at the Academy in 2019 and has participated in many of the outreach programs that communicate her science to the public. She also supports the Delaware River Watershed Initiative project, helping to create data products for partnering organizations. Tanya graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a MS in Environmental Studies. Her capstone, "Combining DNA Barcoding and Macroinvertebrate Sampling to Assess Water Quality," was completed in 2009. Her BS is in biology from West Chester University. She worked for 15 years in the Janzen Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, where she helped develop the Lepidoptera of the ACG DNA Barcode Database.

This event is part of the Academy's Bug Fest. Join us for a month of in person and virtual programs. Click here for details.

Past Events:

Is the Climate of Climate Change Changing?
Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Environment and the Election
Tuesday, November 10, 2020

See more Academy Conversation