The Bug Closet offers opportunities to motivated UCF students with an interest in entomology and natural history. These students work in the collection carrying out various duties including curation and identification of arthropod specimens, data entry, pest management, and field work.
Alessandra Pandolfi acquired her Master’s degree in Biology from the University of Pavia (Italy) working on alien freshwater invertebrates and community ecology. She has experience as assistant curator and educator in natural history museums. She started volunteering at the Bug Closet in spring of 2019 and became an employee in January 2020. Her main focus is studying click beetles (Elateridae) but she is involved also in other curatorial duties. She recently joined the D4 Ecology Lab at UCF collaborating as lab technician on a project on studying the effects of mosquito control on non-target insects.
Vikki Heilman is our new outreach coordinator. She is a Biology major who took up working at the Bug Closet as a transfer student in 2018 after volunteering to help with Bug Closet tours. She is the current president of the Entomological Society of Central Florida. Her favorite order of insect is Hemiptera and she plans on conducting research on them in the future while pursuing a career as a professor. She sings in a band and does kickboxing in her free time.
Rachel Weavers is our newest member of the Bug Closet who made her start by coming in frequently to practice keying out insects for identification. As a Biology major, she has a strong affinity for Lepidoptera, especially moths. She performs research on mosquito larvae and is the current Treasurer for the Entomological Society of Central Florida.
Hannah Shell has her Bachelor’s degree with a Major in Biology and Minor in Psychology from UCF. She started volunteering at the Bug Closet with an interest in Coleoptera, and now works curating and identifying specimens. She hopes to obtain her Master’s degree in Entomology and work in landscape pest management, and perhaps conduct research on insect behavior. For fun she likes to collect insects for her personal collection, read fiction novels, and travel as much as possible.
Jon Longhurst and Lisa Roberts – these are two of the original Bug Closet crew helping in the set-up of the operations. Jon continues as the Bug Closet photographer (now a professional) and Lisa is currently working as a full-time mom!!!! But, she can still paint with a mean polyurethane brush. Picture taken in office of the director of the entomology dept. at the Florida Dept. of Agric. and Cons. Serv. – State Collection of Arthropods. (circa 1994)
Dr. Clay Scherer is another member of the original Bug Closet crew. As an undergrad he volunteered for UCFC when it first opened, and took the first entomology class that Fullerton and Vickers offered. He went on to get his PhD in entomology at the University of Florida and is now an entomologist working for Syngenta, which has taken him to Switzerland (picture)! Clay credits Stuart as an important mentor, and he has been a benefactor and advocate of the Bug Closet for many years. (2020)
Kevin King displays some of the more beautiful specimens. Lepidoptera, like these, make up a small but colorful part of the collection. (circa 1994/1995)
Phillip Russell, a graduate student, adds sorted Hymenoptera from our year-long trapping project to our database. He added valuable specimens from his thesis project investigating the effectiveness of different colored pan traps in assessing bee diversity in sandhill communities in Central Florida, and has identified thousands of bees for the Bug Closet. He was also a member of the Sierra Nevada collecting trip team. Phil is currently a USDA officer working on citrus greening control among other things. (circa 2000)
Trevor Smith, an undergrad working in the Bug Closet, sorts our many boxes of Coleoptera. He went on to get his PhD in entomology at the University of Florida, and is currently the Managing Director of the Division of Plant Industry, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as well as an affiliate/graduate faculty member in the UF Entomology and Nematology department. (circa 2000)
Trevor Smith just after finishing his study project – “Immediate Response of the Order Coleoptera to Prescribed Winter Burning” (also published in Y.E.S. Quarterly). (circa 2000)
Linda Berlin, a graduate student, is our resident carpenter and lily lady. She’s a great help! Now an instructor at Seminole Community College. (circa 2000)
Fern Gattorno, an undergrad, helps Dr. Snelson organize the fish collection. Now an inspector for USDA in South Florida. (circa 2000)
Heather Neff, an honors student and volunteer, adds carabid beetles to our database. (circa 2000)
Jason Cohen, an honors student and volunteer, adds fresh alcohol to our many vials of arthropods. (circa 2000)
Mike Ray was a Bug Closet intern mostly doing data entry. He is now a Senior Scientist at Atkins. (circa 2000)
Saba Akram buggin’ out. (circa 2000)
Travis Sims graduated with a biology B.S. from UCF in 2004, and was our resident expert on Odonata, and spiders. He brought our holdings of odonates up to snuff and “did” the arachnid collection of some 4,000 vials. Picture him standing up in the front of a “john boat” chasing a dragonfly. Currently an environmental consultant. (circa 2001)
John Westcott doing data entry of Hymenoptera and Coleoptera. (circa spring, 2005).
Roxzelle Morris, a graduate and volunteer. (circa spring, 2005)
Karlie Carman worked in the Bug Closet while pursuing her undergrad Biology degree at UCF. She then went on to complete her M.S. in the EPAS Lab at UCF. She donated excellent voucher specimens from her thesis project investigating the effects of habitat disturbance on bee diversity and flower/bee interaction at Archbold Biological Station. Karlie is now an Environmental Science and AP Biology teacher in Houston, TX. (2020)
A batch of what Stuart liked to call his “kids”. These are people who frequently worked behind the scenes to place the traps that bring in the insects, I.D. specimens, and keep the collection in dust-free shape (among other things). From left-to-right, they are: Sean McCarthy (undergrad), Anthony Cuminale (undergrad), Ben Gochnour (B.S.), Hanna Stephens (undergrad), and Derek A. Woller (Ph.D. student). (circa 2012)
Ben Gochnour was a biology student who worked in the Bug Closet and ran Malaise and UV-light traps for us from 2011-2013. He also donated specimens from his undergrad project investigating the diversity of ants and other soil-dwelling arthropods in sandhill habitat. He went on to receive his M.S. from the University of Georgia studying exotic ant spread and effects on diversity. Ben is currently earning his PhD in the Gandhi Lab at UGA looking at how disturbance from Hurricane Michael has affected forest health and the bark beetle community in southern Georgia pinelands. (2020)
Eleazar Marquez was another one of the BC’s many undergraduate workers and he has been in and out over the past few years. Mysterious and quiet, but we don’t mind because he gets the job done! (circa 2013)
Once again, we present to you Hanna Stephens, undergrad employee extraordinaire! Hanna has been with the BC for a pretty long time, but she will finally be leaving us at spring semester’s end because she’s graduating (unfortunately for us). Guess we’ll have to find someone else to do the work of 3 people in exchange for mint oreos…Good luck, Hanna! (circa 2013)
Talysia Ellis is an undergraduate who has now worked in the BC for two semesters and came to us through UCF’s work study program. Her interests lie in nursing, which is too bad because she performs her job well. Besides, who wants to work on humans when there are so many cool insects out there? Yes, we’re biased. (circa 2013)
The newest kid to join Stuart’s ever-growing family, Ji Min Noh is a wonderful undergraduate volunteer pulling triple duty. Somehow, she finds the time to moonlight in Dr. Song’s lab and sunlight in Dr. Hinkle’s lab. All she needs now is a 2nd floor gig and she’ll have all four floors of the Biology building covered. (circa 2013)
Like the man says, he likes flies (Diptera) and there’s nothing wrong with that! A noble pursuit, to be sure. Brighton Hall has been working in the BC for almost a year now and he’s managed to I.D. tons of flies to the family level (so far). Keep it up! (8/25/2014)
This is Emmi Curtiss, yet another mysterious denizen of the BC. Notice the coffee cup in the background – it provides her the fuel she needs to power through her tasks when she slips quietly in before the rest of us rise. You make the rest of us look lazy, but we still appreciate your continued service! (9/24/2014)
Who is this cheery lady? And why is she so excited when she’s only holding a case of Leps? Why, it’s Erin Barbeau, worker extraordinaire “Outreach Coordinator” for the BC, and a true lover of Lepidoptera (about time, right?). Erin graduated in 2017 with her bachelor’s in biology and is attending the University of Colorado – Boulder for graduate school focusing on natural history collections. (12/2/2014)
Ryan Daley Ridenbaugh worked in the Bug Closet while earning his biology B.S. He did an undergrad project studying prescribed fire effects on Carabidae (ground beetles) diversity. He then went on to get his M.S. in the Sharanowski Lab investigating the systematics and distribution of parasitic braconid wasps (Eadya) and their effectiveness as biocontrol agents on leaf beetle pests of Eucalyptus in Australia. Starting in fall 2020 he will be a PhD student in the Linnen Lab at the University of Kentucky, studying speciation in Neodiprion sawflies using genomic tools. (2015)
Bonnie Allison worked in the Bug Closet sorting samples and pinning for about a year while she pursued her undergrad biology degree at UCF. (2016)
Kathiana “Kathy” Desir graduated as a psychology student minoring in Italian who started working at the Bug Closet fall 2015. She originally was interested in ants, but discovered Orthoptera, and has been fascinated with them ever since. Outside of identifying Orthopterans, Kathy spent much of her time doing the essential work of databasing specimens. She currently works with UCF student housing. (2016)
Louis Dennin was an outstanding outreach coordinator. He graduated as an economics major who took up working at the Bug Closet as a freshman in 2015, just because he finds insects to have a unique “artistic” quality to them. He really enjoyed working in the field on collection outings. In the collection, he mainly worked on his favorite group of insects: Neuroptera. (2016)
Mason Reinhart formerly worked our Bug Closet as a Biology major and was the former Vice President of the Entomological Society of Central Florida. He has had the wonderful opportunity of joining Disney’s pest management team. (2018)
Brian Silverman graduated as an interdisciplinary masters student that had been working in the Bug Closet for quite a long time (since undergrad). He worked to identify and curate the Hemiptera portion of the collection. Brian also was an expert at operating the Bug Closet’s photo unit for specimen photography. He is currently a Land Management Specialist at Lake Apopka North Shore for the St. Johns River Water Management District. (2018)
Jordan Ehmke while at her internship at an insect zoo and butterfly garden in Costa Rica. While at the Bug Closet she was tasked with sorting and pinning samples from bioblitzes and traps from Peru. She graduated in 2019 and worked as a middle school science teacher for a few years before accepting an entomology field job with NEON in Gainesville. (2019)
Dylan Grubb is a recent UCF biology grad who is pursuing a career in education in Gainesville. He worked at the Bug Closet for two years, mostly sorting samples and pinning, and did undergrad research on sphecid wasps in the Sharanowski Lab. (2020)
Gloria Stewart worked in the Bug Closet while getting her Biology B.S. at UCF, starting in 2016. While here she became quite adept at identifying bees, and enjoys them so much that she continues to do it as a volunteer. She is also the former Outreach Coordinator of the Entomological Society of Central Florida, and is now an Environmental Specialist for the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection. (2019)