Live Event: October 18, 2018 at 1:00pm Eastern (US)
Randy “the Bug Man” Morgan is an Entomologist having worked at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden where he was responsible for maintaining the live collection of insects, educational messaging, budget, conservation and research. He is currently an instructor for the Amazon Rainforest Workshops in Amazonia Peru and is working to promote native stingless beekeeping and sustainable agricultural development by the Maijuna, an indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon.
Name: Randy C. Morgan
Title: Emeritus Curator – Insectarium
Layman’s Title: Entomologist or Randy the Bug Man Morgan
Company: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (retired for 5+ years)
Years in this organization/position?
What does your organization do?
World-class modern zoo and botanical garden involved in public educational animal/plant display, conservation and research.
What is your role in the organization?
Curator (Manager) of the Insectarium and Reptile/Amphibian Departments; responsible for all aspects including live collection, display and personnel management, educational messaging, budget, conservation, research, etc.
What type of science, technology, engineering or math do you use in your career? And how often do you use them?
And how often do you use them? Insect/animal husbandry specialist, so have broad background in fabricating housing/display (electro-mechanical), environmental needs (temp, lighting and humidity parameters), nutritional, behavioral and reproductive needs, etc, etc…
How is the work you do important to society?
Public education about the natural world we live in, educational display of amazing plants and animals and the important natural roles they perform.
What accomplishments are you most proud of in your current role?
1) First person ever to successfully field collect, laboratory rear and publicly display live colonies of the giant tropical bullet ant, Paraponera clavata, best known as the insect with the most painful and debilitating sting in the world.
2) Involved with the JASON Project, a middle and high school science curriculum program created by National Geographic Explorer Dr. Bob Ballard designed to motivate and inspire STEM interests and careers. Guest Scientist for JASON X: A Wet and Wild Adventure (1999) in the Peruvian Amazon, and the Live Program Host for JASON XV: Rainforests at the Crossroads (2004) in Panama (i.e., sitting in for Bob Ballard). Each was a live online interactive expedition viewed internationally by over a million students and thousands of teachers.
What projects or goals are you currently pursuing?
1) Currently (since 1991) on facility and serving as an instructor for the Amazon Rainforest Workshops in Amazonia Peru designed for various adult educator and student groups,
2) a related collaborative effort with One Planet NGO to promote native stingless beekeeping and sustainable agricultural development by the Maijuna, an indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon.
3) Mentoring Program Coordinator for Cincinnati-base beekeeping organization (Southwest Ohio Beekeepers’ Association) training/working with various new and less experienced beekeepers.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Too many insects (~5 million species), not enough time!
Highest degree attained/ Schools attended?
Master of Science in Entomology, University of Wisconsin.
Other positions not necessarily related to your current career:
AZA Biology School Instructor. AZA’s Applied Zoo & Aquarium Biology School at Oglebay, West Virginia
February 1994 to 2001
Taught Invertebrate Biology I & II, and Evolution: Presented taxonomic, ecological roles and biodiversity concepts.
Arthropods as Educational Tools: Teaching and handling techniques for Conservation Educators.
Insect Pest Management Consultant. Randy C. Morgan, Consulting Entomologist, Cincinnati, Ohio
April 1984 to Present
Legal, commercial, and homeowner insect pest management consultancy.
April 1984 to September 1989
Licensed Pest Control Operator (Ohio & Kentucky): Self-employed specialist in stinging insect pest control.
SCUBA Instructor-Naturalist. Aquarius Dive Shop, Ludlow, Kentucky
June 1985 to July 1994
Assist SCUBA instruction for PADI open water diver certification.
Dive-trip leader and naturalist for expeditions to the Bahamas, Venezuela, Bonaire, Honduras, Mexico & Costa Rica.
Deputy Apiarist. Ohio Department of Agriculture, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
April 1983 to September 1986
Inspected, diagnosed and controlled honey bee diseases in Hamilton County, Ohio.
Apiary and hive management consultancy for area beekeepers.
Super Saturday Program Instructor. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
April 1983 to October 1986
Entomology laboratory classes for gifted children.
Science Camp Instructor. Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, Cincinnati, Ohio
June 1983 to August 1985
Field entomology workshops for children and adults.
Best job you’ve ever had and why/Worst job you’ve ever had and why:
Best was of course the Cincinnati Zoo Insectarium which afforded chance to work with amazing live insects and other animals, travel to exotic locations for live collecting trips and educate the public about the wonders of our natural world. Worst was in late high school-early college, when I worked for several years in an aluminum extrusion factory, where daily I was rained upon by oil droplets from spinning aluminum tubes, I was literally drenched with machine oil by the end of every shift!
What were you like as a kid?
Total bug/animal nerd: collecting insects, keeping tropical fish, frog and turtle vivariums, pet hamsters, guinea pigs, etc.
Favorite classes/coursework in elementary school, middle school, high school, college:
Generally loved sciences especially biology-related, appreciated math since I could see the important relevance to biological studies.
What were your favorite books/shows/movies when you were a kid?
Read a lot of science fiction and some natural history books on bees, wasps and ants.
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up at age 12? At age 15? At age 18?
Always wanted to be a biologist of some kind, with entomology the likely direction given the opportunity.
When did you know you wanted to pursue your current career, and what drove you towards it?
I was literally in the right place and time with the best skill set possible when I learned about a job opening at the Insectarium, and extremely rare opportunity indeed (so I was lucky and prepared!)
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what other career(s) might you have pursued?
Something related to biology, natural history or the outdoors for sure.
What are your favorite hobbies or activities you do for fun?
I am a master beekeeper (40 years), also rear/maintain a number of native ant colonies in my basement for fun (ant farmer!) and practice Spanish lessons every day.
What’s the most frequently played song?
Used to listen to lots of classic rock, but now I listen to mostly spanish language CDs.
Who do you look up to and admire?
The great entomologist, biologist and evolutionary ecologist Edward O. Wilson
What advice would you give students in general?
Get a broad background in a diversity of sciences and humanities and be prepared to grab jobs that might not even exist yet!!!
What are some interesting places you’ve traveled?
Trinidad, Panama, Peru, Costa Rica, Belize, Venezuela, Mexico, Arizona, Singapore, Dubai