DIe5ZZuUwAEOjvzPrincipal Investigator
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.

Check out my:
Google Scholar | Blog | Twitter | GitHub

 Other personnel


Lab Manager and Research Technician
Julia Perrone
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.

Manning_1.13.20Graduate Student
Katie Manning
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!

Christian_website pic

Graduate Student
Christian Bullion
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.

Tawk Bio Picture_1.16.20Graduate Student
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.

Erin_website photoUndergraduate Student
Erin White
B.S. Conservation Biology/Organismal Biology Majors-2020

I am a new undergraduate student in the Bahlai Lab as of Fall 2018! My academic interests include a wide range of topics in biology such as colony collapse in honeybees, coral reef restoration, large cat ecology, and the great unknown field of astrobiology. Whether it was learning beekeeping from my dad, questioning our place in the stars, or scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, I’ve always known my passions are in the sciences.

When I am not running around the Kent Campus, I love hiking, camping, and traveling this marvelous world of ours. After seeing most of our beautiful country, I landed on the other side of the world. The summer of 2017, I traveled to Chengdu, China as a Kent State Sichuan Scholar where I experienced an elegant Eastern culture and interacted with the welcoming people of the Sichuan province. In the summer of 2018, I traveled to Australia where I explored Sydney, Darwin, and Cairns and studied the history and biological systems unique to each location.

If you can catch me sitting down, I’m probably reading or writing science fiction, watching the X-Files, or serving my not-at-all-spoiled kitty babies, Jaime (Lannister) and Davis!

Tasia_website photoUndergraduate Student
Tasia North
University of Idaho, B.S. Ecology and Conservation Biology-2020

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Idaho pursuing a degree in Ecology and Conservation Biology, a minor in Spanish, and a remote sensing and GIS certificate. I’ll be working for the summer in the Bahlai Lab as a research assistant. I’m particularly interested in botany, insects, and small rodents. My big goal as an undergrad is to work in as many ecosystems and with as many species as possible. That broad level of experience is going to help me choose what I want to study and have a broad background to draw from when I go to graduate school and enter the professional field. This summer is my first time out here in Ohio and the surrounding ecosystems and I’m excited for my time here.

Rush1_1.16.20Undergraduate Student
Harlee Rush
B.S. Zoology – May 2020

I am a new undergraduate assistant in the Bahlai lab. My academic interests primarily focus on community ecology, restoration ecology, and entomology. In the past, I have conducted research studying the response of insect communities to restoration in park areas that previously operated as golf courses. To do this, I studied the insect communities in the terrestrial and aquatic environments in individual investigations and the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. Over the 2019/2020 winter break, I traveled 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, insects. When I’m not doing research, working with my student organizations, or working in the honors college or biology stock room, you can find me hanging out with my partner, taking care of my animals (we have nearly 20 pets), watching sci-fi shows, and playing video games.