Brigette Valencia Zacharczenko, PhD
I do scientific illustrations for my own publications, teaching materials, outreach materials, and freelance.
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My research focuses on the systematics of the dagger moths (family Noctuidae, subfamily Acronictinae), and the evolution of larval defenses. I am particularly interested in relationships between morphology, diet breadth, and behavior. More broadly, I am interested in the evolution of complex character systems, such as courtship brushes, in Lepidoptera. Now that I have graduated, I aim to continue my studies on caterpillar behavior while mentoring students on the scientific process.
As a graduate student, I was fortunate enough to teach almost every semester of my 7 years. I have developed teaching skills in introductory biology labs, evolution discussion sessions, entomology labs, as an instructor for field entomology, and in graduate systematics labs. At The Children's Museum in West Hartford I gained experience teaching younger children during summer science camps. I am currently a teacher at Talcott Mountain Science Center, where I use a hands-on approach to get kids excited about science.
Outreach isn't just a line on a CV, it's a way of life. I participate in National Moth Week events, classroom visits, and Connecticut Entomological Society activities. I also provide some of my scientific illustrations online as free educational materials. I also sell some materials online through TeachersPayTeachers. Part of my current position at TMSC has built-in outreach events, which I use to hone my skills and bring my expertise into classrooms around Connecticut.