Light & Verity

VIP tour

A budding child scientist gets a warm welcome on campus.

 Ijeoma Opara

Ijeoma Opara

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When Bobbi Wilson, age nine, heard about the invasive spotted lanternflies, she set out to do just what experts were asking people to do: kill them. Following a recipe for the solution to spray them with, she got down to business in her New Jersey neighborhood one October day. But when a neighbor saw what he described as “a little Black woman, walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees,” he called the police. It became a national news story and sparked outrage on social media.

Enter Ijeoma Opara. An assistant professor at the School of Public Health, Opara also runs a program that brings Black teenage girls to Yale for a tour to “see that schools like this are attainable.” Opara invited Wilson to campus in November for a tour of three research labs. “I wanted to expose her to Black female scientists and students,” says Opara. And I wanted to encourage her not to give up on her dream to pursue science.”

The day ended with a visit to the entomology collection at the Peabody Museum, where curator Leonard Gall (at right in photo, with Bobbi’s sister Hayden, left, and her mother Monique Joseph, center) said that if she sent lanternfly specimens she found, he’d add them to Yale’s collection. She has already followed through.

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