Holly earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Denison University
. She spent her college summers with net in hand, conducting ecological research on the insects living in the ponds and forests of central Ohio. She developed a particular fondness for dragonflies and damselflies, as well as Madagascan hissing cockroaches (which she kept as dorm room pets, much to her roommate’s disapproval!).
As a graduate student in the Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics program
at the University of Maryland, Holly focused on the ecology of insects living in and near streams. The 2004 emergence of the 17-year periodical cicadas in the Washington, D.C. metro area rocked her world and career trajectory – away from basic research toward a future in science communication. Holly and her cicada-maniac colleagues in Maryland’s Entomology Department
took the media by storm, getting millions inside the Beltway (and beyond) jazzed about the boisterous, buzzing cicadas. Long after the cicadas were gone, Holly continued to appear as a regular “Bug-spert” on CNN’s American Morning, dishing out info and advice on mosquitoes, bed bugs, and summer insect pests.
Up for a challenge after her PhD, Holly spent time in Washington, D.C. taking science communication to a new level. As a senior public affairs associate with the American Institute of Biological Sciences
, a nonprofit professional society, she focused on communicating the importance and benefits of scientific research and education to federal and state policymakers. Holly led strategic meetings with government officials and worked with other biologists to present their research in clear and compelling ways to the public through the media.
Most recently, Holly has gone back to the bugs (particularly the big, bad kind) in her work as senior extension associate in the Department of Natural Resources
and coordinator of the NY Invasive Species Research Institute
at Cornell University. She brings together research scientists, land managers, policymakers, and concerned citizens to protect New York State’s natural resources from threats posed by invasive species like the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle. When she’s not battling invasive species, knitting, or gardening, Holly co-hosts and produces a weekly radio show called “Science Cabaret on Air,”
mixing up a lively cocktail of science, culture, and art every Sunday on Ithaca’s 91.7 FM WICB