Dr. Lauren Esposito is a passionate science communicator, who spent her childhood as a budding naturalist exploring tidepools on a small Bahamian island with no electricity or running water. Currently, Dr. Esposito is an Assistant Curator and the Schlinger Chair of Arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences. Previously, she was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow (University of California, Berkeley), studying the biogeography of Caribbean arachnids in a biodiversity hotspot. Dr. Esposito's doctoral dissertation was completed at the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the City University of New York, and focused on the medically important North American scorpion genus Centruroides. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at El Paso. Dr. Esposito’s current research investigates the patterns and processes of evolution in spiders, scorpions and their venoms. A passionate educator, she has organized education programs on the importance of conserving biodiversity in local communities throughout the Americas, developed a nationally-distributed digital science curriculum, and has taught courses on a range of topics. Dr. Esposito leads a field-based conservation biology course for students at Columbia University, and teaches professional development courses for educators.
Eric Stiner is currently a PhD fellow at the University of California at Riverside, where he researches adaptation and environmental effects on the evolution of an organism’s genome. His project will provide a genetic framework for conservation efforts across the globe. When he can find time, Stiner heads to the Pacific Coast to collect insects (and catch a few waves). Stiner earned his master’s degree in Conservation Biology at Columbia University, where he discovered new primate species and worked to conserve at-risk African ecosystems. He began his science career in a Neanderthal cave in Germany interning on a faunal survey for the University of Tubingen, while completing his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University. During this time, Stiner honed his skills as a young field biologist searching for Neanderthal and other late Pleistocene mammal fossils. “I was amazed by the diversity of the fossils and I discovered a love for evolution and natural history,” he says. Shortly after returning to the United States, Stiner brought his expertise to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City where he studied the evolution of bats as a scientific assistant. Stiner has also taught a number of courses such as Conservation Biology and Population Genetics at universities in New York and California, and is dedicated to science outreach and education.