This meeting will convene a panel of guest speakers to describe their research at the interface of music and entomology. Each panelist has focused on a different insect taxon (Orthoptera, Embioptera, and Isoptera) and taken a creative, musical approach to better understand insect behavior and ecology.
Dr. Lisa Rainsong is both a music theory professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music and a naturalist who documents regional occurrences and range expansion of crickets and katydids throughout NE Ohio – research done primarily by ear. As a natural history educator, she presents programs and teaches classes on singing insects throughout the state.
Her presentation will show how she does her nocturnal field surveys of singing insects in meadows, marshes and woodland edges. She will then demonstrate how her research documents the northward range expansions of singing insects who were not previously found in her region.
Studying primitive social behavior of Embioptera for her PhD work in entomology at Cornell University evolved into a life-long pursuit of research into one of the least understood orders of insects. Working with colleagues from around the world and with undergraduate students at Santa Clara University, where she is Professor of Biology, Janice Edgerly-Rooks has published 45 articles based on investigations at multiple scales of analysis: silk genes, silk-water interactions, ecological physiology, environmental correlates, maternal behavior, anti-predator behavior, communication, phylogeny, new species descriptions, and so forth. Producing this body of work and supporting undergraduate researchers earned her an endowed chair position at SCU and a Lifetime Fellow in the AAAS.
Embioptera, also known as webspinners, fashion their silk domiciles by executing intricate spinning patterns, composed of 28 possible spin-step positions often numbering in the thousands in a single bout. Dr. Edgerly-Rooks sonified spin-steps of different species in an attempt to use her sense of hearing to detect variation that otherwise was hard to visualize with more typical graphics. This process blossomed into collaborations with musicians and composers who took the next logical step: musical compositions based on silk spinning behavior of Embioptera.
Diego Ellis Soto is a Uruguayan PhD candidate in Ecology at Yale University and a NASA FINESST Future Investigator. Working at the intersection of ecology, technology and conservation, he researches how animals move across the world under increasing human threats and a changing climate. As a music producer, Diego blends sounds from his research travels, biological concepts and technologies, with electronic music, for example by making eight termites jam together, trees doing photosynthesis or migrating wildebeest tuning their hooves to electronica! You can see a lecture about this concept here