BGC Member Spotlight: Emily Sandall

March 15, 2021

Background: Emily earned her PhD in Entomology at Penn State University, where she was based in the Frost Entomological Museum. Her dissertation research used specimen-based approaches to answer questions related to the diversity, natural history, and evolution of Odonata, commonly known as the dragonflies and damselflies.

To carry out her research, she combined phylogenetic, morphological, and biomechanical methods. These methods took her into museum collections most days, as well as field and wet lab settings.

Research: To convey the importance of insect biodiversity, she has blogged at the Frost Curators’ Blog and led a range of public engagement activities. Emily is passionate about biodiversity data standards and ethics, especially for museum practitioners.

Emily was part of a workshop at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis to identify guidelines for georeferencing specimen data, the recommendations of which were published in Research Ideas and Outcomes. Her work on entomological ethics inspired her to co-organize a symposium on the topic at the Entomological Society of America, Entomological Society of Canada, and Entomological Society of British Columbia 2018 annual meeting, which led to a publication in American Entomologist.

At the BGC Center: Emily is a postdoctoral associate whose research focus is on global patterns of odonate diversity. She works with the team at Map of Life to combine taxonomy, spatial data, and morphological/habitat data to generate species distribution models and assess gaps in our knowledge of dragonfly and damselfly diversity. These findings can inform conservation prioritization for insects in the Half-Earth project and identify new frontiers in odonate biodiversity research.