Dr. Christie Bahlai
Assistant Professor, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2017-
Ph.D. University of Guelph, 2012, Environmental Biology
Mozilla Fellow for Science 2015-2016
I am a computational ecologist who uses approaches from data science to help solve problems in conservation, sustainability, and ecosystem management. I combine a background in physics and organismal ecology with influences from the tech sector and conservation NGOs to ask questions and build tools addressing problems in population ecology. I like insects, information theory, and practical answers to complex questions. I have published a surprising number of scientific papers about ladybugs.
I’m deeply into long-term contemporary ecology! I’m an associate scientist of the Long Term Ecological Research network out of the Kellogg Biological Station, and currently sit as Secretary for the Long Term Studies Section of the Ecological Society of America.
I also have strong interests in social justice in science, and believe that directly addressing diversity issues through technology and culture change benefits both scientists and science. I teach a course called Reproducible Quantitative Methods that touches on many of these topics.
Lab Manager and Research Technician
Research Technician, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2018-
MLIS Student, Kent State University, School of Information, 2019-
B.S. Michigan State University, 2009, Environmental Biology/Zoology
I am the lab manager and research technician in the Bahlai lab and am largely interested in how beneficial insect communities respond to changes in landscape and environment over time, especially under restoration and conservation efforts. I am also a graduate student in the iSchool here at Kent State working towards my master’s degree in Library and Information Science.
As a long-time member of the scientific community, I would love to find a way to combine my knowledge and experience in the sciences with what I’m learning in the LIS program here at Kent State. I’m on the Youth Services pathway and would love to work with teens to engage with them through STE(A)M, YA literature, and many other ways I haven’t discovered yet. There are a plethora of ways kids connect with the world around them, and I’d love to be part of their journey, guiding them and helping to shape future generations as they make their way through this often confusing and exciting world.
Growing up in Michigan, I am happiest when I’m in the water. I also love to hike and just exist in nature, adventure around both new and long-treasured places, spend time with my friends and family, and READ. In addition to my love for the magical non-fictional world we live in, I am an avid reader of magical fiction and spend as much time with my nose buried in a book as I possibly can. Reading is absolutely my favorite pastime and YA fantasy and science fiction are my favorite! I love attending book events and meeting my favorite authors to get my books signed (I have an enormous collection that I keep in my living room library). Like many people, I watch too many shows, am a nerd as well as a geek, and enjoy fandom culture probably too much.
PhD Student, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2018-
B.S. Michigan State University, 2016, Environmental Biology/Zoology
I am an ecological and evolutionary biology doctoral student in the Bahlai lab. I study insect diversity in thin-soil environments in the Great Lakes Region, from southern Ohio, through Cleveland and into Canada. My project focuses on characterizing insect communities and vegetation in urban (green roof) and natural thin-soil environments to examine and quantify the services those insects provide (i.e. pollination, pest control, and decomposition). Characterizing the function and worth of insect services in natural and urban ecosystems can help us with conservation decision-making in these human-managed ecosystems.
I am a Yooper who grew up on the shore of Lake Michigan in Escanaba, MI, thus my passion for the Lakes. I formed a curiosity for the natural world as a kid and continued to learn about it at Michigan State University while earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology, zoology and sustainability. In undergrad, I had the opportunity to work in the Hill Lab, studying environmental physiology, the Landis Lab, studying natural enemy insects, and being a biology teaching assistant. After graduation, I was an entomologist at the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World. I returned to MSU to work with native bees in the Isaacs Lab, in between some time off in the Colorado snow.
My broad scientific interests include ecology, beneficial insects, conservation, and climate change. When I’m not in the lab, or in the field catching bugs, you might find me playing with my pet beetles (Leslie and Ann), kayaking, biking, hiking, skiing or spending time with my friends and family!
PhD Student, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2018-
B.S. The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, 2018, Biology
I’m a new Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD student in the Bahlai Lab and I am interested in analyzing factors influencing the usage and quality of citizen science data. More specifically, I’m interested in using hobbyist observations and inventory data to analyze long-term trends in Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) range and seasonality. Additionally, I aim to identify factors impacting participation in citizen science and analyze what effects, if any, those participation rates have on broader patterns.
Lama Tawk Cota
Ph.D. Student, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2019-
M.L.A. Kent State University, 2019, Landscape Architecture
M.S. American University of Beirut, 2014, Environmental Sciences
In my current work at the Bahlai Lab, I am investigating natural micro-ecosystems for their potential to inspire and improve the function of urban ecological systems. Moreover, I am working closely with the Novel Ecology and Design Lab, and looking into the transferability of natural ecosystems onto living architecture. With a background in landscape architecture and environmental sciences, I am pursuing my doctoral studies to advance science within design practice. Born in the United States, I have resided and practiced in California, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Ohio. I am the author of many ecological maps and the proud member of the World Bank’s Women for Resilient Cities Network. Having spent my childhood on the beaches and ski slopes of California and Lebanon, thinking about how my hometowns are changing due to climate change keeps me up at night.
Ph.D. Student, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2020-
B.S. Zoology – May 2020
I am a new PhD student in the Bahlai lab. Throughout my tenure, I will be working in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park alongside the FoSTER project. My academic interests primarily focus on community ecology, restoration ecology, and entomology. In undergrad, I conducted two studies on the response of insect communities to restoration in park areas that previously operated as golf courses. I also had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with Dr. Oscar Rocha to conduct two independent projects. In the first project, I compared invertebrate community structure in forested vs open habitats in a seasonally dry rainforest and a cloud forest. In the second project, I analyzed hispine beetle communities in rolled leaf plants belonging to the families Heliconiaceae, Maranthaceae, and Zingiberaceae.
I grew up in a small country town in Southeastern Ohio, so I’ve always had a connection to nature. I now use that connection to learn more about my surroundings and teach others about conservation, ecology, and most importantly (to me), insects. When I’m not doing research, I am spending time with my partner, pomeranians, cats, and exotic pets. I like video games, science fiction, etc.
Research Technician, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences
2019 Botany Instructor, Adjunct Faculty, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences
2017-2019 M.Sc. University of Guelph, 2006, Botany
I am a research technician in the Bahlai lab, and a botanist specializing in Great Lakes habitats. I am the person who, during a meeting of zoologists, will always ask, “but what about the plants?”. As such, I help members of the Bahlai lab broaden their understanding of the ecological interactions in their study systems. I help anyone in the lab or department with research planning, field work, and lab experiments.
I have spent nearly 25 years working in conservation and restoration biology as partof the American Chestnut Recovery Team in Canada, the Cliff Ecology Research Group at the University of Guelph and as a Conservation Biologist for the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Midwestern Ontario. I have also worked in pollination biology (bee, ant, and wind) and as part of the International Barcode of Life Consortium (exploring DNA barcoding of plants).
I am currently testing how to use citizen science as well as automated data collection to characterize changes in plant, insect, bird, and bat communities at wildand disturbed habitats in North-East Ohio.
I am a type of Canadian called a “Guelphite”, meaning I am from Guelph, Ontario, Canada. I enjoy looking at birds, bugs, and plants (especially weeds), as well as spending time with my friends and family.
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Research Assistant, Kent State University, Department of Mathematical Sciences
B.S Kent State University, 2018-, Pure Mathematics
I have always been interested and deeply invested in science regardless of what field it is. As a scientist, I usually like to approach topics that start with a question and start analyzing it from there to tackle any complex or simple problems because almost every problem in life has a purpose behind it. Just like an equation with an unknown in it, eventually it ends up being known. In the Bahlai Lab, I am able to do that and learn more about ecology and biology using my analytical background. I am observing datasets and gathering all the information that I can, using R to observe emerging patterns in long-term study experiments such as the long-term datasets of fireflies in SW Michigan to better understand the relationship between the insect community, time, climate change, and their impact on each other and to our ecological system.