Meet the Scientists

The ButterflyNet project is headed by a strong team of leading scholars with complementary expertise. Team members have done field work on every habitable continent, and have personal connections and ongoing collaborative relationships with amateur and professional lepidopterists worldwide. This expanded international team of over 30 contributors, including recognized global authorities on butterfly taxonomy, systematics, regional butterfly faunas, citizen science, and species trait aggregation, will advise and assist with various aspects of the project.


David Lohman

David Lohman is an Associate Professor in the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior subprogram of the Department of Biology at City College of New York, and has been since 2009. From 2006 to 2009, he worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at National University of Singapore. Research in the Lohman Laboratory focuses on the ecology, evolution, biogeography, and conservation of butterflies and other organisms in Southeast Asia. | EMAIL: dlohman[at]


Akito Kawahara

Akito Kawahara is an Assistant Professor and Curator at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the Florida Museum of Natural History, at the University of Florida. Research in the Kawahara Laboratory investigates the evolution and diversity of invertebrates, lepidopterans in particular, integrating phylogenetic, behavioral, functional genomic, and biodiversity informatics approaches to understand how transitions in behavior have shaped invertebrate diversity on both islands and continents. His biogeographic work has focused on the Hawaiian archipelago where some of the most unusual and diverse lepidopterans are found. | EMAIL: kawahara[at]


Naomi Pierce

Naomi Pierce is the Hessel Professor of Biology in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, and Curator of Lepidoptera in the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Research in the Pierce Laboratory focuses on the ecology and evolution of species interactions, from the costs and benefits of symbioses between ants and other organisms, to genetic analyses of biochemical signaling pathways underlying interactions between plants, pathogens and insects. She has also been involved in reconstructing the evolutionary ‘tree of life’ of insects such as ants, bees, and butterflies, as well as using molecular phylogenies to make comparative studies of life history evolution and biogeographical distributions.

WEBSITEpiercelab.oeb.harvard.eduEMAIL: npierce[at]


Rob Guralnick

Rob Guralnick is an Associate Curator of Biodiversity Informatics in the University of Florida's Department of Natural History and the Florida Museum of Natural History. Research in the Guralnick Laboratory aims to uncover the causes of spatiotemporal changes in genetic and species diversity through methods including occupancy modeling, spatial ecological modeling,  landscape genetics, and molecular phylogenetics, all using large species and population occurrence datasets from collections and citizen scientists. As a result, the Guralnick Laboratory is also involved in the creation of web-based tools to increase the quality, availability and utility of these datasets at a global scale. | EMAIL: rguralnick[at]

Jesse Breinholt

Jesse Breinholt is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Kawahara Laboratory at the University of Florida. His previous research has involved using phylogenetics and population genetics approaches to study evolution, conservation biology, and taxonomy in crustaceans, primarily fresh water crayfish. As part of the Kawahara Laboratory, he is currently developing bioinformatic scripts for Lepidoptera phylotranscriptomic analysis. | EMAIL: jbreinholt[at]



Marianne Espeland is Curator of Lepidoptera and Head of the Lepidoptera Section at the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Germany. Her research attempts to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the great diversity of tropical Lepidoptera and Trichoptera, and combines studies on systematics, biogeography and diversification with phylogenomics and transcriptomics. She also has a special interest in techniques for using dried museum specimens in phylogenomic research.

WEBSITE: marianneespeland.weebly.comEMAIL: m.espeland[at]


Marta Jarzyna

Marta Jarzyna is a YCEI Fellow and Postdoctoral Associate in the Jetz Laboratory in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. Her research interests span the fields of macroecology, biogeography, global change ecology, and biodiversity conservation. She is currently investigating the impacts of climate change on the functional and phylogenetic diversity of vertebrate assemblages, observing cross-scale patterns of diversity to isolate the spatial scales at which these impacts are most relevant.

WEBSITE: | EMAIL: marta.jarzyna[at]


Leslie ries

Leslie Ries is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Georgetown University and Project Director of the North American Butterfly Monitoring Network. Research in the Ries Laboratory employs citizen-science data to investigate the impacts of climate and land-use change on butterfly ecological communities. As part of this work, the lab is involved in developing statistical tools to extract robust information from citizen-science data, designing systems to support data management, visualization, and sharing, as well as developing “knowledge” databases compiling life history and other trait data to enrich multi-species analyses. 

WEBSITE: butterflyinformatics.orgEMAIL: leslie.ries[at] 

Wall of lepidopterists

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