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
Christie Bahlai is a computational ecologist who uses approaches from data science to help solve problems in conservation, sustainability, and ecosystem management. She combines a background in physics and organismal ecology with influences from the tech sector and conservation NGOs to addressing problems in population ecology. She likes insects, information theory, and practical answers to complex questions. Her current research focusses on developing tools to support information synthesis in temporal ecology.
Christie has strong interests in social justice in science, and believes that directly addressing diversity issues through technology and culture change benefits both scientists and science. She teaches 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, Kent State University School of Information, 2021
B.S. Michigan State University, 2009, Environmental Biology/Zoology
Julia is the lab manager and research technician in the Bahlai lab and is a recent graduate of the iSchool here at Kent State and received her MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) in the spring of 2021. As a long-time member of the scientific community, Julia combines her knowledge and experience in the sciences with everything she’s learning in the MLIS program. With her specialization in Youth Engagement, Julia builds science literacy in her community through effective and engaging programming and collaborations with community organizations. Connecting children and teens to the diverse array of available outdoor spaces in their communities, whether natural or highly urbanized, is a major tenant of this goal. In her free time, she loves to hike, swim, and just exist in nature, adventuring around both new and long-treasured places, spend time with her friends and family, and read. In addition to her love for the magical non-fictional world we live in, she is an avid reader of magical fiction and spends much of her time buried within the pages of a book. She is a proud nerd as well as a geek and loves sharing her passions with others.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Kayla I. Perry
Postdoc, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2021-
Ph.D. The Ohio State University, 2016, Entomology
Kayla is a Postdoctoral Research Associate. Her research interests focus on understanding how natural and anthropogenic disturbances influence the structure and function of insect communities in natural and managed ecosystems. She graduated with her Ph.D. in Entomology in 2016 from the Ohio State University where she investigated the responses of ground-dwelling arthropod communities to disturbance caused by emerald ash borer, windstorms, and salvage logging in forest ecosystems. Kayla’s postdoctoral research has focused on understanding whether landscape simplification from urbanization and agricultural intensification imposes constraints on processes of insect community assembly with the goal of improving the biodiversity conservation. Kayla specializes on beetles (Order Coleoptera) in the families Carabidae, Scarabaeidae, Geotrupidae, Silphidae, and Staphylinidae. In the Bahlai Lab, Kayla aims to investigate the effects of environmental change on insect communities across spatial and temporal scales using a variety of quantitative approaches.
PhD Student, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2018-
B.S. Michigan State University, 2016, Environmental Biology/Zoology
Katherine (Katie) Manning is an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD candidate. She studies insect ecology in urban and natural systems, with a focus on investigating the effect of frame-of-reference on scientific findings, especially in terms of insect collection methodology. Her dissertation work explores this with field work on green roofs and natural analogs, biodiversity monitoring calibration, and literature-based work examining insect population trends. She is experienced in the areas of beneficial insects, native bees, insect biodiversity, living architecture, ecosystem services, community and urban ecology.
Past positions include research assistantships in several labs at MSU – Dr. Rufus Issacs (Entomology), Dr. Doug Landis (Entomology), and Dr. Richard Hill (Integrative Biology), as well as staff entomologist and educator at the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World.
In addition to research, she enjoys taking on roles within the university to advocate for fellow grad students by serving on the university’s Graduate Student Senate and the department’s Biology Graduate Student Council.
PhD Student, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2018-
B.S. The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, 2018, Biology
Christian’s research focuses on using citizen science to answer broader questions regarding the distribution, abundance, phenology and natural history of odonates (damselflies and dragonflies). She is currently analyzing factors impacting usage and accuracy of citizen science, with particular interest in underserved and/or rural regions. Her broad research interests include biostatistics, entomology, and wetland ecology. Christian received her BSc from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, where she studied Biology.
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 her current work at the Bahlai Lab, Lama is investigating green roofs ecosystems and landscape designs for their potential to inspire and improve the function of urban ecological systems. With a background in landscape architecture and environmental sciences, Lama is pursuing her doctoral studies to advance science within design practice. Moreover, she is working closely with the Novel Ecology and Design Lab, and looking into natural ecosystems’ transferability onto living architecture. Born in the United States, she has resided and practiced landscape architecture in California, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Ohio. She is the author of many ecological maps and the proud member of the World Bank’s Women for Resilient Cities Network. Having spent her childhood on the beaches and ski slopes of California and Lebanon, thinking about how her hometowns are changing due to climate change keeps her up at night.
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
John is a research technician in the Bahlai lab, and a botanist specializing in Great Lakes habitats. He supports members of the Bahlai lab broaden their understanding of the ecological interactions in their study systems.
John has spent nearly 25 years working in conservation and restoration biology as part of 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. He has also worked in pollination biology (bee, ant, and wind) and as part of the International Barcode of Life Consortium (exploring DNA barcoding of plants).
He is currently testing how to use citizen science as well as automated data collection to characterize changes in plant, insect, bird, and bat communities at wild and disturbed habitats in North-East Ohio.
B.S. Zoology Student, Kent State University, Department of Biological Sciences, 2020-
Growing up in a rural area, Stephanie developed a passion for animals and climate change at an early age. She quickly realized that she needed to explore ways to engage with these topics and find ways to mitigate the increasing number of issues that humans are creating in the environment.
Stephanie is an undergraduate student assisting in the Bahlai Lab for the summer of 2021. She is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in zoology at Kent State. During her freshman year, she kept busy through her involvement in various organizations and clubs like the Honors College, Biological Scholars, and Scientistas. She also gained experience studying the effects of climate change on aerial insectivore migration during her time as a volunteer in another faculty laboratory-Dr. Mark Kershner.
This summer, she is looking forward to gaining more field experience and learning more about the process of data collection. Stephanie is excited to explore the ways that insects interact with both natural and man-made environments around them and how data is possibly changed through new improvements and the way that it is collected.
High School Student
High School Student, Solon High School, 2020-
In her childhood, Grace was comparable to ‘the cat that curiosity hadn’t killed’. From catching bees with her bare hands (and getting stung way too many times) to dissecting grasshoppers, Grace had an unhealthy interest in insects.
Thankfully, she grew out of that phase and is now a junior at Solon High School. She has been a part of Science Olympiad since middle school and has participated in events encompassing numerous fields of science. She loved it all but eventually rediscovered her particular interest in environmental and life sciences. This passion came to fruition through winning a national championship in ornithology and a couple of other national placements and state championships. This summer, she is looking forward to exploring science beyond the textbooks, gaining experience with fieldwork, and learning about data collection. She is also excited to play with insects again (but in a more professional and less destructive way).
In her free time, Grace enjoys rearranging her room, buying plants, bird-watching, swimming, and talking about her most recent obsessions.