Holly Menninger

From Belly Buttons to Basements: Lessons Learned from Engaging the Public in the Study of the Biodiversity in their Daily Lives

Menninger will describe her previous work coordinating Your Wild Life, a citizen science and outreach program based at NC State University.  Your Wild Life employed some unusual approaches studying biodiversity in unusual places, partnering with the public to study among other things, the microbes and arthropods living in our homes and on our bodies. Through a series of short 'stories', Menninger will share the outcomes of this citizen science research, describe lessons learned, and discuss how this work has shaped her thinking more broadly about public engagement in science, particularly for her current work in the the museum space.


An entomologist by training, Dr. Holly Menninger is a science communicator by passion and practice. She has worked at the intersection of science and society – in policy, natural resource management, and public engagement in science. She is currently the director of public engagement and science learning at the Bell Museum, leading the museum's interpretive efforts which includes K-12 education and public programs, exhibits and the planetarium. Menninger and her team are working to position the Bell Museum as the gateway to the sciences at the University of Minnesota, and envision citizen science as an important point of entry. Previously, she held positions at NC State University, as the director of public science for the College of Sciences (2014-2017) and as the coordinator of Your Wild Life, a program engaging the public in the study of the biodiversity in their daily lives (2011-2014). She’s authored a number of peer-reviewed scientific publications, policy articles, and popular science stories, and her work has been frequently featured in the popular news media. Menninger earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Denison University and her Ph.D. in behavior, ecology, evolution and systematics from the University of Maryland. 


Holly Menninger, Bell Museum