Dr. Chelse Prather
When I was little, I was terrified of insects. My dad, dismayed by this, coaxed me into touching a tiny, green june beetle. After many failed attempts, I determined to do it. Just as my finger was millimeters away from the creature, a huge, predacious beetle flew on top of it and flew away with it. I was scared and screaming, but exhilarated at having witnessed nature in action. From that moment, I was fascinated by nature and how it worked, and where these fascinating little insects fit into the picture.
I have since finished my BS in Biology at the University of Kentucky. I went on to study the role of walking sticks to rainforests at the University of Notre Dame, where I was in the same lab as Dr. Angela Laws. We shared a love of all things buggy. I completed a brief postdoc position at Florida State University, and am now Research Faculty at the University of Houston. I am studying how grasshoppers affect grassland ecosystems. In general Im interested in how animals, particularly insects, affect ecosystems, and ultimately humans. Check out my website for details about my research.
Dr. Angela Laws
My grandmother used to make a treat called “grasshopper legs”. They are basically crispy chow mein noodles in a butterscotch sauce. On one visit to my grandmother’s house when we were very young, my sister and I asked her to make some for us. She told us she was out of grasshopper legs, but gave us each a mason jar and sent us into her garden collect as many grasshoppers as we could. I remember racing between the rows of flowers and vegetables, laughing and shouting as we plucked the large, fat grasshoppers off of plants so that our grandmother could pluck the large, fat legs off their bodies and make dessert. Now I know that there were no insect parts in the “grasshopper legs”, but we had fun, and I received valuable job training. Now, I spend a large portion of each summer collecting hundreds, and sometimes thousands of grasshoppers (but not to eat).
I am a field ecologist. I study invertebrates (mainly grasshoppers, their parasitoids, and spiders) in grassland systems. I am interested in understanding how species interactions vary over space and time and how those interactions influence ecosystems. I love working with insects (and spiders) and find them fascinating, so I was excited when Chelse suggested we start this blog.
I did my undergraduate and master’s work at Utah State University, and received a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Notre Dame. I recently finished a post-doc at Kansas State University, where my research focused on how temperature affects predator-prey interactions between grasshoppers and wolf spiders. Currently, I am the assistant director of the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center- West at the University of Notre Dame.