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 NHMLA 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 Gonzalez has been working on the BioSCAN Project for 3 years as an Assistant Collections Manager. 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.


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 NHMLA, 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.


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!


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. 

Work-Study Students

USC undergraduate work-study students do much of our sample processing, and can be found doing much of their work while interacting with the public in the NHMLA Nature Lab. Stop by and say "hi" on your next visit! Our current work study students are: 

Samantha Cadwell
Dominique Corona
Niko Gonzalez
Ruth Park
Juhi Vora


We have a great team of volunteers that work on our project in various capacities. If you are interested in volunteering for BioSCAN, please email us at Our current volunteers are: 

Barbara Baker
Maria Friesen
Bob Gorcik
Brianna House
Helen Huong
Anya Hunter
Daisy Sanchez
Maria Wong

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)