Meet 6 scientists keeping track of bugs, snails and fungi among us

Once a week, six volunteer biologists gather in the Schiele Museum of Natural History’s Collections Department, where they work to identify and describe insects, spiders, fungi and snails that live in Gaston and surrounding counties. Meet the Schiele’s adjunct curators:

When Dawn Flynn leads educational programs at the Schiele Museum, she often pulls out what she calls her “Oh My” collections, insect displays so eye-catching that a first-time viewer may exclaim, “Oh my!” Among the specimens are stag and Hercules beetles as big as your thumb.

Denise Furr traces her love of biology to sea shell collecting she did during childhood beach vacations. She was a college biology major but put biology aside while she raised her family and worked as a disaster relief coordinator and in other positions for the Red Cross. She’s now writing a layperson’s guide to common snails of the Piedmont.

David Grant was the first professor at Davidson College to teach ecology. For years, he also taught a 10-week marine lab course in Beaufort, N.C., so memorable that 67 former students recently joined him there for a reunion. Grant often leads Lake Norman-area educational programs on spiders.

Deborah Langsam is a fiber artist as well as a biologist. “I think what attracted me to fungi was the same as what attracted me to fiber art,” she says. “I was fascinated by shapes, colors, textures – all of the visuals.”

Allein Stanley is a past president of the North American Mycological Association. She predicts increasing demand for fungi experts as the world recognizes that green plants grow better when they have fungi partners. Researchers believe fungi transfer minerals and antibiotics to plants.

Dr. Henry Stockwell moved to Panama in 1968 when the Army drafted him to work at a military hospital. For an amateur entomologist, the posting was “paradise on Earth.” Stockwell specializes in beetles – weevils in particular. Eight species of insects, including one treehopper that Flynn described, are named for him.