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Have little critters been giving you the creepy crawlies? In an effort to shift your perspective towards insects, Dr. Jeremy McNeil, Biology Professor at Western University, will make the case about their crucial role in the planet’s ecosystem when he visits Okanagan College’s Vernon campus later this month.
McNeil encountered the knee-jerk fear reaction towards insects first hand when he showed his neighbours’ seven-year-old son a hornworm caterpillar from his garden. The young boy stared for a minute and then squashed it in the palm of his hand. When McNeil asked why he did that, the boy replied "Insects are not nice.”
This interaction sparked nearly four decades of public outreach, where McNeil has attempted not only to educate the public about insects (and hopefully reduce insecticide use) but also to instill a real appreciation for the natural world around us.
Part of the Science in Society Speaker Series, his public talk titled Are humans really smarter than insects? will take place on Tuesday Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the College’s Vernon campus lecture theatre.
In this talk, McNeil will draw comparisons between insects and humans to establish the fascinating common ground we share, such as making paper, building solar panels, as well as how both species apply the same physics principles used in snorkeling and scuba diving.
With a teaching career spanning over 40 years, McNeil alongside students and collaborators has published more than 180 papers in primary international journals and more than 10 book chapters. He has received many national and international awards (including the prestigious Humboldt Prize), is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and this year he was named to the Order of Canada for his work in studying the reproductive biology in insects and for his dedication to increasing public appreciation of science.
Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets, please call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644. For more information, visit www.okanagansisss.wordpress.com.
Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Best Western Vernon Lodge, Starbucks Coffee, Cooper’s Food, and the Vernon Morning Star.