Dr. Jeffery Lockwood

Dr. Jeffery Lockwood is an entomologist, mystery writer and professor of natural sciences and humanities at University of Wyoming.

The Collegiate Peaks Forum Series will present “The Epic (and Operatic) Tale of the Rocky Mountain Locust: An Environmental Murder Mystery featuring Locust: The Opera,” an event with Dr. Jeffrey Lockwood, entomologist, mystery writer and professor of natural sciences and humanities at the University of Wyoming.

Dr. Lockwood will present his lecture via Zoom video teleconferencing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22. As with all Collegiate Peaks Forum Series lectures, participants will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the lecture.

The story of the Rocky Mountain locust, which blackened the skies of North America for centuries and formed a swarm covering nearly 200,000 square miles in 1875, was ripe for transformation into a commensurately grand form. Perhaps even more remarkable than the breathtaking scale of its outbreaks was its sudden disappearance, with the last living specimen being collected in 1902. 

This environmental history became the basis for “Locust: The Opera” which was crafted as an environmental murder mystery in which solving the century-old extinction of an iconic species provides lessons for the modern world. The ghost of the Rocky Mountain locust haunts a scientist until he can figure out how a creature that once blackened the skies of the West vanished. Perhaps never in human history has it been more vital for us to come to terms with our own power and responsibility regarding our fellow inhabitants of the planet.

Lockwood earned a Ph.D. in entomology from Louisiana State University and worked for 15 years as an insect ecologist at the University of Wyoming. In 2003, he metamorphosed into a professor of natural sciences and humanities in the department of philosophy where he teaches environmental ethics and philosophy of ecology, and in the school’s creative writing program where he served as the director and now teaches workshops in non-fiction.

Lockwood’s writing has been honored with a Pushcart Prize, the John Burroughs award, IPBA Silver Medal, and inclusion in the Best American Science and Nature Writing. His books on entomology include The Infested Mind: Why Humans Fear, Loathe, and Love Insects (Oxford University Press, 2013), Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War (Oxford University Press, 2008) and Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect that Shaped the American Frontier (Basic Books, 2009). Grasshopper Dreaming: Reflections on Killing and Loving (Skinner House, 2002) explores moral and spiritual conflicts in a scientist’s life as a “hired assassin for agriculture.” He has also ventured in the world of fiction with a three-book noir mystery series featuring an ex-cop-turned-exterminator. The “Riley the Exterminator” series includes Poisoned Justice, Murder on the Fly and Lethal Fetish.

For information on participating in the lecture via Zoom, visit www.collegiatepeaksforum.org and open the Lecture Schedule tab.

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