2019-present Professor, Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University (OSU)
2016-2019 Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Entomology, (OSU)
2013-2016 Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Entomology, OSU
My interest in the history of entomology and evolutionary thought dates to graduate school, when I began research on Benjamin D. Walsh (1808-1869), an entomologist and correspondent of Charles Darwin. My work has focused on elucidation of Walsh’s impact on entomological science and his original contributions to Darwinian theory. At a time when most entomologists labored in taxonomic work without pondering the utilitarian side of their science, Walsh aggressively promoted the application of sound entomological research to mitigate farmers’ problems with pestiferous insects. The first two periodicals in America devoted to applied entomology were edited or co-edited by Walsh. His appointment as first state entomologist of Illinois, an office nearly without precedence, predated the first professorship in American entomology. Remarkably, Walsh also championed Darwin’s revolutionary theory of species origin and posited phytophagic speciation, credited as the theoretical progenitor of sympatric speciation. Prominent researchers recognize Walsh for wrestling with the species concept and note his foresight regarding cryptic species. Darwin valued Walsh’s observations and cited him in later editions of the Origin of Species as well as Descent of Man and Variations of Animals and Plants under Domestication.
In my undergraduate courses, many designed for honors students and non-majors, I target information and scientific literacy, critical thinking, teamwork, communication, and quantitative reasoning. These skills are broadly applicable across professional careers and vital for navigating life in the modern world. I have developed a number of pedagogies and activities, some of which are published with former graduate students. My graduate courses have focused on Darwin and evolutionary thought, professional preparedness, and insect physiology (my former area of research).