Dr. Mary Gardiner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Entomology whose research program focuses on the ecological value of urban vacant land. This work is concentrated in Cleveland, Ohio – a city that has experienced significant economic and population decline in recent years. Cleveland currently contains 27,000 vacant lots encompassing approximately 4,000 acres of land. The Gardiner Lab examines how alternative vegetation designs and management regimes influence the value of vacant land for the conservation of biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services. Dr. Gardiner’s contributions have made tremendous impacts in entomology, ecology, and biological control while revitalizing urban landscapes and bridging the Rural-Urban Interface.
Mary is also a State Specialist in Extension and works with several groups including home gardeners, Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, and urban farmers. Her extension programming focuses on identifying and attracting beneficial insects to gardens and farms to promote conservation and ecosystem services. In 2015, she released a book focused on natural enemies and their role in biological control in home gardens titled: Good Garden Bugs: Everything You Need to Know about Beneficial Predatory Insects. She has also embraced the use of citizen science in her research with several statewide programs engaging youth and adults in conservation-focused scientific inquiry.
The Distinguished Junior Faculty Award consists of a plaque and $1,000, as well as $3,000 added to the operating expense account of the awardee’s research project.