Nancy Miorelli '11

MAJOR: Biological Sciences

Nancy Miorelli '11

“I want people to love and see the natural world – even the small natural world – as I do. The more people know, the more they’ll be willing to protect the environment.”

As a curious, near-sighted child, Nancy Miorelli learned to look down instead of up at the world around her. There she could see the creatures that were crawling on the ground – and that would inform her future.

Naturally drawn to biology in college, Nancy did research in Albany’s Pine Bush Preserve. She went on to get a master’s degree in entomology and worked as a science communicator at the Maquipucuna Ecolodge and Reserve in Ecuador, where she led night walks and other programs for tourists and children that highlighted the role of insects in the ecosystem.

As part of bringing bits of bug biology to the public, she developed a penchant for letting bugs rest on her face, which quickly earned her a strong online following.

“Putting bugs on my face shows a sense of scale,” Nancy says. “Of course, a lot of people think bugs are gross, so a 4.5-inch cockroach sitting on my face triggers a lot of ‘Can you believe this?’”

Nancy has a popular blog, Ask an Entomologist, in which she and other entomologists explain bug queries in easily understandable ways.

“Scientific literacy is a necessity going into a future where we continue to vote on and develop policies for important issues like climate change, genetically modified organisms, medicine and technology,” she says.

Now living in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito, Nancy guest lectures at universities and ecolodges. She also brings an artistic bent to the bug business by making unique jewelry from Tagua nuts and jewel beetle shells and selling them on her Etsy shop, SciBugs. The proceeds help rebuild earthquake-ravaged Ecuadorian communities.

In 2017, the Entomological Society of America awarded Nancy with its ECP Outreach and Public Engagement Award.for her "excellence, leadership and creativity in outreach and public engagement." 

“I want people to love and see the natural world – even the small natural world – as I do,” Nancy says. “The more people know, the more they’ll be willing to protect the environment.”

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