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Board of Directors

The WERF Board currently consists of ten members. Each member's biography is included below:

Oliver S. Dominick

Oliver was born in 1950, the first of Richard B. Dominick's two children. (R.B.D. as he often referred to himself; had just finished medical school.) Oliver's childhood included several years on a historic family farm in Westchester County, NY, catching frogs and insects for fun and chickens for dinner. Early schooling was in New York City, followed by boarding school (age 12) in the far more appealing countryside of Massachusetts, college at Stanford University, and a PhD in 1981at University of Washington.

Fascination with the natural world was early, immersive and consistent: summers with Dad in a remote wilderness camp at Nictau, New Brunswick and school weekends filled with the duck-rich marshes of Long Island, NY. In NYC Dad took the young Oliver on fascinating hospital rounds and so frequently to the American Museum of Natural History and the Explorers Club that it seemed that the whole world was an exhilarating swirl of animal diversity and natural wonder all interwoven with energetic characters filled with curiosity and adventure.

A pinnacle of childhood exposure to the natural world was a 1960 safari trip to Kenya in (age 9). Hunting gazelle in the vast Serengeti studded with dramatic flat-topped thorn acacias, sleeping on the dry ground of the Ouasi Nyiro with dried elephant dung for a pillow, climbing a tree to stay out of the way of elephants in camp, peering over the plunging escarpment of the Rift Valley, the grand colonial imagery of Nairobi's "New" Stanley Hotel……these are a few paltry images from an endless canvas of natural romance.

In Oliver's early teens Dad retired from ophthalmology and moved the family to The Wedge Plantation in McClellanville, SC. The Wedge was an enthralling piece of heaven in the tidal low-country, encompassing seemingly endless forests of loblolly pine, live oak, marshes (formerly rice fields) and miles of sandy trail/roads for horseback riding, hiking, and access to indescribable natural treats. Dad and his wife Tania restored the plantation and its magnificent ante-bellum house to perfection. The combined families (Dad's two children plus Tania's four) were extraordinarily stimulated, challenged and happy.

At The Wedge Dad re-engaged his childhood interest in collecting moths, which soon led to MONA and WERF (for more on this see R.B.D.'s 1970 introduction to The Moths of America North of Mexico, "Concerning the origins of this enterprise and the people engaged in its execution").

Such early exposures led Oliver to enduring involvements in physiology, ecology, conservation, and animal behavior. These gradually evolved into attention to the emergence of "complex" properties in systems biological, ecological, economic, and otherwise. Oliver has worked for substantial periods on hormone and nervous system physiology, molecular biology, education, conservation, and business ventures including biotech consulting, oil exploration, bankruptcy investing, farming and even residential design and construction.

At Stanford University (BA, MA) Oliver focused on marine biology and physiological ecology as well as mountain lion conservation. In 1975 he moved to Seattle to pursue a Ph.D with J. W. Truman, using Manduca sexta to examine how steroid hormones mediate behavioral changes at the level of the nervous system, pioneering an in vitro preparation of the fully isolated central nervous system which is still in use.

Subsequently Oliver worked at Cornell University in the Entomology Department with additional involvement in biochemistry, genetics, neurobiology and biotechnology. His focus moved from hormonal control of mosquito behavior to behavioral genetics, and ultimately to some of the earliest attempts (in 1983) to transform eukaryotic genes using embryonic injection of transposable elements in mosquitoes in the effort to mediate with malaria. His background in molecular biology eventually led to opportunities to consult in biotechnology to investment groups in New York City, and ultimately to transition from pure research to the business world. He's since been involved in a variety of startups and consulting situations.

Oliver's family includes his wife, Deede, her three grown children (and five grandchildren), his own nine siblings, and innumerable nephews, nieces, and godchildren. His move to Maine in 1999 reflects the priority that conservation and outdoor education have assumed. He and Deede are presently involved include the Nature Conservancy's activities in Africa and in the Gulf of Maine.


Lawrence F. Gall

Larry was born in 1956 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. According to his parents, as a toddler he lived essentially feral in the backyard, hauling insects back to the screened-in porch for observation, and subsequently fighting the family cat for custody. After the family moved to Connecticut in 1965, he spent summers from 1966 through 1972 collecting (free from the cat) at sleepaway camp in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts.

In 1973, he discovered the Peabody Museum in New Haven and as a high school senior worked as a specimen pinner in the Peabody's Entomology Division. Larry attended Stanford University as an undergraduate, receiving his bachelor's degree in Biology in 1978. While at Stanford, he worked in the labs of Ward Watt and Paul Ehrlich, and spent the summers of 1977 and 1978 researching Colias population structure with Watt's crew at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado. He returned to Connecticut in 1978 for doctoral research with Charles Remington, and received his Ph.D. in Zoology in 1984.

Around 1977, Larry became smitten by computers, and supported himself while a graduate student by working as a programmer and support specialist at the Yale University Computer Center. From 1984 to 1991, he served as Director of Yale's Social Science Computing Facility, with a cross appointment as Lecturer in the Statistics Department. The "Statlab," as it was known, provided statistical and computing support to the social science faculty and students, and was closely involved in developing the first personal computer networks on campus.

In 1991, he joined the staff at the Yale Peabody Museum to lead their newly formed Computer Systems Office, and has served there since as the museum's chief technology officer with focus on its electronic collections management systems and bioinformatics programs. In 2008 he added a joint appointment as Informatics Manager in the Entomology Division, and is presently tackling a full-scale recuration and digitization of the entomological collections at Peabody.

Larry has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Wedge Foundation (2004-2010), editor of the Journal of The Lepidopterists' Society (1996-1998), section editor of Zootaxa (2007-2010), executive editor for the Peabody's Scholarly Publications Program (1998-2010), vice president for The Connecticut Butterfly Association (2006-2010) and The Lepidopterists' Society (1999-2000), and president of The Lepidopterists Society (2002-2003) and Connecticut Entomological Society (1981-1982).

Larry's research interests include the systematics and ecology of noctuids, notably Catocala (Lepidoptera: Erebidae), the biology of northeastern Nearctic Lepidoptera, bioinformatics, mark-release-recapture methodologies, and natural history interpretation. He lives in Westport, Connecticut with his wife Nancy Barrer, who is an executive recruiter and pianist. Their one daughter, Jennifer Barrer-Gall, is currrently dancing in New York City and attending Columbia University.


Todd M. Gilligan

Todd was born and raised in a small town in northern Ohio. He became interested in Lepidoptera at an early age, thanks to his father, who was a high school chemistry teacher. Summers would involve rearing saturniid moths and traveling the state collecting butterflies, moths, and other insects. Todd joined the Ohio Lepidopterists at around age 10, and was very active in that organization for the next 20 years. He began collecting micro moths in the early 1990's during the height of the Ohio Survey of Lepidoptera, and eventually became interested in moths in the family Tortricidae, which remain his specialty. His undergraduate education began at Ohio Northern University and continued at Ohio State University (OSU) where he earned a bachelor's degree in entomology. His original plans to attend graduate school were postponed when his wife moved from Sydney, Australia to Ohio, and he spent the next eight years in the field of computer systems administration. Deciding that studying moths was better than being employed, he left the computer world and returned to OSU to obtain a M.Sc. in entomology. In 2007 he moved with his wife and two dogs to Colorado. He obtained his Ph.D. in systematic entomology from Colorado State University in 2012, where he remains an affiliate of the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity.

Todd has authored or coauthored more than 70 peer-reviewed publications, including five books, mostly on the systematics of Tortricidae. He maintains a website dedicated to tortricids and has performed extensive field work across North America, Europe, Australia, and Africa. Todd served as President of the Lepidopterists' Society from 2013-2015, and he has received numerous awards for his entomological work, the most notable including the Entomological Society of America's John Henry Comstock Award and the USDA-APHIS Scientist of the Year Award. He currently works as a National Policy Manager for the United States Department of Agriculture.


Don Lafontaine

Don has a long history of association with the Canadian National Collection. He was born 8 December 1948 across the street - literally - from the CNC in Ottawa, Canada, and lived the first 12 years of his life less than a mile away, but never knew it was there. From about the age of four he began collecting: insects, bird nests, rocks, fossils, skulls, but it was a science teacher when he was in grade seven that focused his attention on Lepidoptera with a science project on butterflies. One summer while out collecting, he ran into Eugene Munroe, who told him about the CNC, and after that there were many visits to see Munroe, Tom Freeman, and Dave Hardwick. The latter took an interest in Don and mentored him in his budding interest in noctuids. Don continued to have a broad interest in natural history and worked several summers as a park naturalist and two at the CNC as a summer student before being hired as a Biologist (Carleton U, Ottawa) in 1972. Don went to the University of Alberta, Edmonton, to study with George Ball in 1976 (PhD 1979) and continued his work at the CNC, reclassified as Research Scientist.

On 11 September 1971, Don married Herma, whom he met when he was 17 while collecting moths at a summer camp where he was teaching canoeing. She was attracted by "that strange blue light in the forest." Herma accompanies him on most field trips and museum travel. They have two married daughters, Heather and Julie, and two granddaughters, Erika and Natalie.

Don has been a Director on the Wedge Board since 1985 and on the Editorial Board since 2007. He served as Division Editor (2002-2007) and Associate Editor (2004-) of The Canadian Entomologist, and co-editor for New World Macromoths for ZooKeys (2008-). Don was President of the Lepidopterists' Society (2001-2002) and is a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution (1998-).

Don's research interests are the systematics and zoogeography of North American Noctuoidea and the higher classification of the superfamily. Don has authored or co-authored 80+ research papers (>1600 pp.) and seven books (> 1800 pp.), including five fascicles in the Moths of North America series and The Butterflies of Canada, the latter with Ross Layberry and Peter Hall.


Sangmi Lee

Sangmi Lee was born and raised in South Korea. She started learning about insects when she was a young girl who chased grasshoppers so she could eat their fried legs. Her fascination with moths led her to concentrate on microlepidoptera during her undergraduate program at Kangwon Nat'l University. As a graduate student of Dr. Kyu-Tek Park, she received her M.Sc. degree with her thesis entitled "Systematics of Subfamily Gelechiinae in Korea." Sangmi received her Ph.D. under Dr. Richard L. Brown at Mississippi State University with her dissertation entitled "Systematics of Holarctic genera of Teleiodini (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)."

Sangmi has specialized on Gelechiidae for the past 15 years, and has published 25 scientific papers and 6 non-refereed identification aids on Gelechiidae and other microlepidoptera. She has also made many presentations at regional, national, and international meetings. Since 2002 she has curated and identified gelechiids in many collections in North America, becoming one of the foremost experts in this difficult group. Sangmi has developed the most comprehensive website on Gelechiidae which includes a global framework for phylogenetics and classification of Gelechioidea. She has contributed educational videos on collecting and dissecting microlepidoptera that are available on YouTube. Sangmi is the Collection Manager of the Hasbrouck Insect Collection at Arizona State University, since 2012, and she serves as a referee on the Moth Photographers Group (MPG) website for identifications of gelechiids.


Jacqueline Y. Miller

Born in Joliet, Illinois, Jackie grew up in farming areas of southwestern Pennsylvania. As a child, she was fascinated with nature, especially plants, insects, and birds. Her parents, both chemical engineers, fostered her interest in natural history and encouraged a career in science or medicine. Following a rigorous parochial school education, she obtained a BS in biology at the University of Pittsburgh and an MS in biology from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. While in the Washington area, she worked as curator of Drosophila at the University of Maryland, College Park, and was also an instructor in biology at Gallaudet College. In 1968, she began working as an assistant curator for the Allyn Foundation in Chicago, Illinois, and later the Allyn Museum of Entomology in Sarasota, Florida. In 1982, she had the opportunity to resume graduate coursework at the University of Florida and earned her doctorate in zoology under the guidance of Thomas C. Emmel. Through her graduate work, she was able to advance her developing expertise in the systematics of castniid moths and related taxa.

In 1981, the collections and facilities of the Allyn Museum of Entomology were donated to the University of Florida Foundation and became part of the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. Although the Allyn Museum remained an off campus facility in Sarasota until 2004, Jackie served as a curator and administrator within the Department of Natural History and maintained an active association with students and colleagues in Gainesville. Together with her husband and colleague, Lee D. Miller, she also served as adjunct faculty and taught various courses in entomology, biogeography and systematics at New College in Sarasota. A devoted teacher, she mentored visiting scholars and students from both campuses in various facets of Lepidoptera research. At UF, Jackie continues to be a sought out advisor and was honored with a UF Research Foundation Professorship award in 2008.

An active member of numerous scientific societies, Jackie has served in various capacities including Lepidopterists' Society assistant secretary (1971-1976), member at large (1977-80) and president (1989-1990). She has also held office in the Entomological Society of America, including Section Chair for Systematics and Representative to the Governing Board, and was elected and honored as an ESA fellow in 2008. She has served in an editorial capacity for the Bulletin of the Allyn Museum since its inception in 1970 and is an active peer reviewer of multiple serial publications. She is currently the Allyn Curator of Lepidoptera, Associate Director of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the Florida Museum, and holds faculty appointments in the Departments of Biology and Entomology and Nematology.

Jackie's research interests focus on the systematics, biogeography, and life histories of Hesperioidea, Nymphalidae, and Castniidae, as well as phylogenetic analysis and vicariance biogeography of Lepidoptera, especially endemic genera in the West Indies and the Caribbean basin. In 1994, she co-authored The Butterflies of the West Indies and South Florida along with David Spencer Smith and Lee D. Miller. Her travels have taken her to various countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and South Africa. She is currently completing a long-standing survey of macrolepidoptera of the Bahamas and has been instrumental in initiating a comprehensive inventory of the Lepidoptera of Honduras.


Stephen R. Nanz

Steve was born in 1961 in Waukesha, WI where he was raised by his parents, Robert and Miriam. Upon graduation from Hamilton College (BA) in 1983, he moved to New York City where he worked on Wall St. for several years. In 1999 he founded The Nanz Company which specialized in the design, manufacture, and distribution of high end door hardware.

A nature enthusiast as a child growing up in Wisconsin, Steve would spend much of his adult non-working hours engaged in nature photography and leading nature walks for local groups such as the Brooklyn Bird Club, the New York City Parks Department, New York City Audubon of which he is a former board member, etc. He retired from the Nanz Company in 2016 and joined the Moth Photographers Group at the Mississippi Entomological Museum at Mississippi State University (MPG). Steve would go on to become co-editor of the "Annotated Taxonomic Checklist Of The Lepidoptera Of North America, North Of Mexico” published in 2023 by the Wedge Entomological Research Foundation.

Steve joined the Wedge Foundation Board in 2023 and continues to serve as Editor in Chief of MPG. He and his wife, Heidi, divide their time between homes in Brooklyn, NY and Jamestown, PA. They have an adult daughter, Veery. Steve and Heidi met while birding. They love experiencing nature and can still be found exploring the parks of NYC and the woodlands of western PA.


Gregory R. Pohl

Greg grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, where he became interested in insects at a very young age. After a childhood exploring nature in the Boreal forest, he earned a B.Sc. (1987) and M.Sc. (1992) from the University of Alberta, where he focused on beetle evolution. In the 1990s, after a couple of years in agricultural Entomology, he worked on a forest biodiversity project; the delicate beauty of micromoths in the light trap catches, and the opportunity for new discoveries among them, led to a switch in allegiance to Lepidoptera.

For the past 28 years, Greg has worked as a biologist for Natural Resources Canada (the federal department responsible for forestry) in Edmonton, Alberta, where he curates an arthropod research collection, identifies insects, and carries out forest biodiversity research.

Greg's research interests include species inventories and biodiversity, as well as taxonomy and nomenclature. He has published 28 peer-reviewed papers. His bio-inventory work has expanded from regional inventories, to provincial lists, a checklist of the Lepidoptera of Canada and Alaska, and most recently he co-edited the 2023 Nearctic Lepidoptera checklist, published by WERF. He has collected insects in all the provinces and territories of Canada except Nunavut.

Greg is a founding member of the Alberta Lepidopterists' Guild, and has served on the executives of The Lepidopterists' Society, The Entomological Societies of Canada and Alberta, the Biological Survey of Canada, and the Moth Photographers Group. He was appointed to the WERF board of directors in 2023. He has also served on provincial and federal committees in Canada that assess species for conservation status and protection.

During the pandemic Greg discovered the joy and potential of iNaturalist, and is now involved in organising and promoting citizen science bioblitzes there. On the rare occasions when he is not contemplating the world of moths, or chasing them in the great outdoors, he experiments with musical soundscapes in his home studio.


Kelly Richers

Kelly Richers was born Kelly Patrick Moran in Washington DC, May 28, 1952. His parents got divorced when he was young, his mother remarried and his stepfather took the family to Germany to live for four years. Otto Richers, Kelly's stepfather, was an electronics engineer working for NATO, and Kelly was, in essence, an Embassy brat. There Kelly got to travel to virtually all European and Mediterranean countries. During that time Kelly took the adopted last name of Richers.

When Kelly was 12 he returned to the United States and moved to State College, Pennsylvania, where he attended high school. Upon graduation he attended Penn State University, where he was a wrestler for four years, graduating with a B.S. in Health and Physical Education in 1974. After teaching for two years at a state prison, Kelly was perfectly prepared to teach junior high school, which he did for another couple of years in State College.

Upon meeting his wife-to-be on a trip to California, Kelly moved Long Beach, and subsequently San Jose and Anaheim, working in the business world, before moving to Bakersfield in 1979, where he married in 1982. After working in the office supply business for six years in Bakersfield, Kelly returned to teaching in 1986, having earned a credential to teach K-12 Earth Science, General Science and Life Science. While teaching eighth grade science Kelly earned his Education Administration credential and Masters Degree and became a vice principal of a middle school in Wasco in 1992.

Since then he was a vice principal for nine years at a middle school, one year at an elementary school, and has been principal at an elementary school for four years and principal at a middle school for two years. In that time he has been awarded the title of Administrator of the Year four times from his professional organization, The Association of School Administrators (ACSA), for the region of Kern, Tulare, Kings, Inyo and Mono counties, and in 2009 he was selected as Middle Grades Principal of the Year for the state of California. Following that he was Director of Categorical Programs for the Wasco Elementary School District, then in 2013 was selected as Superintendent of the District. He led bond efforts and the building of two schools and a new Maintenance Operations complex, before retiring in 2023.

In the field of Lepidoptera, Kelly began collecting in junior high school as a result of a classroom assignment. Those specimens were mostly lost to dermestids and moving many years ago. However, upon moving to California he discovered that the traditional activities of hunting and fishing he had enjoyed in the Pennsylvania mountains were much more difficult, and he turned in 1984 to Lepidoptera again.

Kelly joined the Lepidopterists' Society in 1984 and attended the Pacific Slope meeting in 1985 in the San Bernardino Mountains. Kelly met Ron Leuschner and Julian Donahue, who allowed him access to the collection at the LACM, which became a regular location for Kelly to visit.

Some thirty years ago Kelly conceived the idea of making a master list of moths by county for California, having no resources for identification in Bakersfield. With the help of Jerry Powell, who thought the idea insane at the time, Kelly arrived at a format that allowed the information to be catalogued on a computer database. Jerry Powell and Ron Leuschner proved primary contributors to this effort, which now stands at some 37,000 entries and is posted on the website at the Essig Museum at UC Berkeley.

Since that time, virtually every collector of California moths has contributed to the list, and with this wide circle of people whom Kelly now felt he knew, he felt compelled to try one more new thing. Therefore, he decided to host an annual Lepidopterists' Society meeting, which was held in Bakersfield in 2007 and was considered successful.

In the meantime Kelly decided it would be fun to visit some classic collecting locations in the west, which led to a dozen or so articles in the News titled with that name. Expansion of the California list now includes Nevada and Arizona, so a lifetime of new visits to museums and locations is ahead, as well as learning to dissect. He identifies moths from Arizona for BAMONA, also.

Kelly currently resides in Bakersfield, California. He collects stamps and sugar packets as well as Lepidoptera. He is the Treasurer of the Lepidopterists' Society and the Moth Photographers Group Foundation, as well as a past president of Wasco Rotary and the Wasco Exchange Club.

He has been a member of the Wedge Entomological Foundation for 20 years and has been assistant treasurer, treasurer and currently serves as President.


David L. Wagner

Dave was born in 1956 in Oakland, California. He was raised in California, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, but it was his uncle and aunt's farm in the Ozarks that catalyzed much of his early interest in Lepidoptera, reptiles, and natural history. He obtained his BS from Colorado State University in plant pathology and botany and Ph.D. in entomology working under Jerry Powell at the University of California, Berkeley. From there, he went to the California Academy of Natural Sciences (San Francisco) and the University of Vermont for one-year post-docs, before accepting a faculty position in the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Connecticut. He has traveled (and collected) extensively in Costa Rica and Ecuador.

His research interests include the biosystematics of ghost moths (Hepialidae), several families of leafminers, and Noctuidae. Over the past decade Wagner has taken a special interest in the immature stages and life histories of Macrolepidoptera, publishing three books and several peer-reviewed journal articles on caterpillars. He is nearing completion of a volume treating 800 species of eastern owlets (Noctuoidea). Several of Dave's recent papers have focused on the systematic value of larvae in revealing phylogenetic associations.

Wagner has a deep interest in matters relating to insect conservation. He chairs the Connecticut's Advisory Panel for rare and endangered insects and other invertebrates and is frequently called upon by governmental agencies and NGOs for his advice on the Northeast's imperiled insect biota. He was been an active member of The Lepidopterists' Society's Conservation Committee. Together with Larry Gall and Jane O'Donnell, Wagner recently completed work on a butterfly atlas for the state of Connecticut and a review article on threats posed to rare or endangered insects by non-native species. His book with Dale Schweitzer and Marc Minno on Rare, Declining, and Poorly Known Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera) of Forests and Woodlands in the Eastern United States is due out in late 2010.

In addition to serving on the Wedge Foundation Board since 2002, Wagner was vice-chair for the "All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory" in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is serving on the board for the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, is a Delegate for the Organization for Tropical Studies, and is Co-Director of the University of Connecticut's Center for Conservation and Biodiversity.

Presently he is living in Storrs, Connecticut. Pastimes include fishing, bicycling, and volleyball, and he enjoys bird watching, travel, and gardening with his wife Sylvia. His eldest child, Virginia, is earning her Master of Fine Arts at MICA in Baltimore, and his son Ryan, is studying biology and biochemistry at Wake Forest University.

 


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