BioSCAN - Staff | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

BioSCAN is the World's Largest Urban Biodiversity Study. Millions of Insects from in and around Los Angeles have, and continue to be, collected. Currently, BioSCAN is gearing up for Phase II of the project which will survey L.A. from ocean to desert. Photo Credit: Kelsey Bailey

Insects of the LA Basin - Available Now!

Check out the 3rd edition of Insects of the Los Angeles Basin and learn about the amazing diversity of insects that share our city!

Revised and edited by James N. Hogue, with a new preface by NHM's Entomology Curator Brian Brown!

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New Exhibits Open!

L.A. is more wild than you think! Come celebrate the transformation of NHM into an indoor-outdoor Museum!
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The BioSCAN Team


Brian Brown, Principal Investigator and NHM Curator of Entomology
Ph.D. University of Alberta, Entomology

Dr. Brown has pursued an interest in insects since he was 5, when he created an insect zoo in his backyard in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Brown received both his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Guelph in Ontario, and then earned his doctorate at the University of Alberta. After receiving his PhD, he spent two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., prior to joining the museum staff in 1993.

Brown's research centers on the systematics, evolution, and natural history of phorid flies, especially the parasitoid species known as "ant-decapitating flies" and "bee-killing flies." He has collected specimens and conducted research in many countries throughout Southeast Asia, North America and Europe, but especially in Central and South America. Through his work he has discovered and described about 500 new species of phorids, and he has investigated their varied lifestyles. He has worked extensisvely on fossil species preserved in amber, especially from the 40-million-year-old Baltic amber of Europe.


Lisa Gonzalez, Assistant Collections Manager
B.S. University of California Riverside, Entomology

Lisa, who joined the BioSCAN project in 2012 as an Assistant Collections Manager, received a B.S. in Entomology from UC Riverside. She considers the Museum her second home in L.A.; she first started here as a volunteer back in 2001 in the Museum's Insect Zoo. These days, she spends much of her time driving around Los Angeles visiting the BioSCAN sites, checking in with the lovely folks who volunteer their time and space in their yards for the project, and gets to peek inside the samples that are chockfull of wondrous microscopic little creatures. A day spent with eyes glued to her microscope is a day of blissful Zen.  She gets great pleasure out of studying the insects that live in the backyards of her fellow Angelinos, a habit that began in her own suburban yard as a small child. Lisa’s second passion after insects is cult, horror and B movies. Lucky for her, L.A. is a great place for both bugs and independent theaters.


photo of max Adams holding large beetles

Benjamin "Max" Adams
Ph.D. University of Louisville

Dr. Adams spent most of his childhood climbing trees or searching through swamps for insects, frogs, and turtles. He found out in college that he could make a career of his hobbies and put those skills to use at Louisiana State University. At LSU, he received a bachelor’s degree in biology studying fire ant behaviors during floods and a master’s degree in entomology working on insect communities on the Gulf Coast following a major oil spill. He earned a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Louisville, where he studied how communities of ants survive and interact with each other at the very top of tropical forests, in the crowns of tropical trees. He joined the museum in 2018 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Urban Nature Research Center where he will be applying his knowledge of insect communities to determine how urbanization and local environmental variation affect species distributions across Los Angeles County.


photo of Maria Wong

Maria Wong

As soon as Maria joined the BioSCAN Project in 2015, she started learning about the local phorid fauna of L.A. from entomologist Emily Hartop. Maria has now taken over the challenge of identifying the "impossible" genus Megaselia and spends most of her days looking under the scope, looking at phorids from around the world and as well as the BioSCAN samples from urban backyards across Los Angeles. As part of the UNRC, Maria also works on digitizing the land and freshwater snail collection in the Malacology Research Department. Maria holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Purdue University.


photo of jan kempf holding vials of spiders

Jan Kempf

Jan started volunteering at the Natural History Museum as a docent over twenty years ago. As part of the training, each docent was required to write and present a short research paper on a subject related to the museum's collections.  She took the opportunity to study a subject she knew nothing about - spiders - and ended up adding classes in field biology, entomology, spider biology and spider identification to a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.S. in Environmental and Occupational Health from CSUN.  She has been volunteering in Entomology for 17 + years, identifying and databasing the spider collection.  In 2002, she began the Los Angeles Spider Survey, a community science project to document the urban spider population of the Greater Los Angeles area and has been collecting spiders as part of the BioSCAN project..Since most  spiders can only be identified to  species as adults, there are always immature spiders sitting on her kitchen counter being fed flies from the compost pile until they undergo their final moult.


photo of Hannah Hayes

Hannah Hayes

Hannah hadn't seen a future in entomology until she arrived at Occidental College, where she realized that she could merge her love for science and nature. Hannah is currently a BioSCAN and UNRC research intern where she studies local bee diversity and how urban environments are affecting bee populations. She has worked to familiarize herself with the over 1,000 bee species that are native to California. She spends her time catching bees in Los Angeles gardens or making sure that bee specimens are looking beautiful in the lab. Hannah hopes to show the world how exciting and beautiful the bees in our city can be! 


Estella Hernandez, Assistant Collections Manager
B.A. Whittier College, Biology

Entomology was not initially on Estella's radar as a career option; her knowledge and experience pre-BioSCAN come mostly from the healthcare field. After joining the BioSCAN team,  however, Estella quickly found that working with a team as dedicated, passionate, daring, determined and personable as the entomologists in BioSCAN made working with insects as equally rewarding as staining human tissues. The picture above is of Estella in her amazing costume for Haunted museum 2014!


Collaborators and Advisors

We work with an international team of collaborators that are specialists on different insect groups:

Dr. Jim Hogue, CSUN (Syrphidae)
Dr. Peter Kerr, CDFA (Mycetophilidae)
Dr. Gregory Curler, Purdue University (Pyschodidae)
Dr. Torsten Dikow, Smithsonian Institution (Asilidae)
Dr. Dalton de Souza Amorim, Universidade de Sao Paolo (Scatopsidae)
Dr. Terry Wheeler, McGill University (Chloropidae)
Dr. Michael Turelli, UCD (Drosophilidae)
Dr. Henry Disney, Cambridge University (Phoridae)
Dr. Lucian FUSU, Al. l. Cuz University (Microhymenoptera)

Previous Staff

Emily Hartop, Assistant Collections Manager
B.S. University of California Riverside, Entomology

Emily, like most entomologists, was one of those strange children that was constantly turning over rocks looking for insects. She kept a dead bug collection, rather than necklaces and bracelets, inside her childhood jewelry box and at an early age learned to rescue misunderstood "stink beetles" (AKA Pinacate beetles, darkling beetles, or Eleodes) from harm's way. Here at NHM, she has turned herself into something of a specialist on the genus Megaselia, a giant and taxonomically difficult group. She enjoys the challenge of working on an "impossible" group of small flies, but occasionally takes the time to look up from the microscope and enjoy larger insects, wildlife, and occasionally even other people.


Kelsey Bailey, Photographer
B.A. University of Southern California, Political Science, minor in Photography and Social Change

Kelsey photographs the magnificent and diverse insects that we catch in our traps throughout Los Angeles. She loves revealing these microscopic creatures to the public and exposing people to a world that’s out of sight. She believes that photography can promote curiosity and appreciation for the little known parts of our environment.