Firefly Watch: About the Researchers

Firefly flashes against green field at dusk © David Murray
© David Murray

Mass Audubon is proud to partner with several experienced firefly researchers.

Chris Cratsley

Dr. Cratsley is a Professor of Biology at Fitchburg State University. He received his PhD in Biology from Tufts University and his Bachelor’s degree from Brown University. Dr. Cratsley has over 20 years of experience as an educator focused on K-20 science education and professional development, and as a researcher studying the courtship and mating behavior of fireflies. His current interests involve exploring the evolution of chemical defenses in fireflies and integrating citizen science initiatives into k-12 and higher education.

Sara Lewis

Dr. Lewis is a Professor of Biology at Tufts University, with expertise in the courtship and mating behavior of North American fireflies, including mate choice and nuptial gifts. Author of 80+ scientific papers, Lewis also has a TED talk and has written about firefly conservation and evolution for Natural History, CNN, The Guardian, and Scientific American. She has also written a popular book, Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies, unveiling the science behind the spectacle.

Avalon C.S. Owens

Avalon is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology at Tufts University. She has a Masters in Entomology from National Taiwan University, where she studied the effects of artificial light on the flash behavior of urbanized Aquatica ficta. She is currently investigating the impact of light pollution on the fitness of North American firefly species, and specializes in behavioral observations, computer modeling, and electroretinography techniques.

Don Salvatore

Don is retired from the Museum of Science in Boston, where he worked as a science educator for 38 years. He, along with Dr. Chris Cratsley, Dr. Kristian Demary, and Dr. Adam South—all former grad students of Dr. Sara Lewis—started the Firefly Watch citizen science project in 2008. Don continues to work with Firefly Watch, now with Mass Audubon.