Ph.D. Biology, University of Miam, Coral Gables, FL
B.A. Biology, Pomona College, Claremont CA
Additional coursework: Primate Social Behavior, 1985, School for Field Studies program in Panama; Tropical Ecology, 1989, Organization for Tropical Studies Graduate Semester in Costa Rica
View my Curriculum Vitae
Areas of Expertise:
Behavioral and population ecology; conservation biology; environmental studies; social insects, focussing on ants and bees; evolution of social behavior; tropical ecology; pollination biology and other plant-animal interactions; pedagogy in science and environmental studies
Courses I Teach:
- Animal Behavior
- Biological Communications
- Biology Senior Seminar
- First-Year Seminar
- Introduction to Environmental Studies
- Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
- Organic Farming and Conservation of Biodiversity in India
- Population Ecology
- Solving Environmental Problems
- Tropical Ecology in Costa Rica
Recent Conference Presentations:
Entomological Society of America, National Meeting, Reno, Nevada, USA; Co–author on Emily Ogilvy*’s presentation “A study of ant diversity in burned and unburned sandplain forest in Vermont”. Poster presentation, November, 2011.
Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, Annual Meeting, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA; Panelist for session on “Envrionmental Studies and Sciences Program Development and Assessment”; Presentation “Developing an Environmental Studies Program at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont”. Co-authors SMC Professors Jeff Ayres, Bret Findley and Richard Kujawa.
Recent Submissions to Referred Journal:
Banschbach, V.S., *Yeamans, R.L., *Brunelle, A., *Gulka, A. and *M. Holmes. Submitted 2011. Ants as bioindicators: Impacts of edge habitats on community and social structure of North temperate deciduous forest ants.
Recently Published Referred Journal Articles:
Banschbach, V.S. and R. Letovsky. 2011. Teaming Environmental Biology and Business Administration Seniors on “Green” Enterprise Plans at Saint Michael's College, Colchester, VT. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. Available at: http://www.springerlink.com/openurl.aspgenre=article&id=doi:10.1007/s13412-011-0036-x
Banschbach, V.S. and R. Letovsky. 2011. The use of corn and sugarcane to produce biofuel.Pages 6 – 16. In Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching, Volume 32 (K. McMahon,Editor). Proceedings of the 32nd Conference of the Association of Biology Laboratory Educators (ABLE), 383 pages. http://www.ableweb.org/volumes/vol-32/v32reprint.php?ch-1
Banschbach, V.S. and R. Letovsky. 2010. The use of corn and sugarcane toproduce ethanol fuel: A fermentation experiment for environmental studies. American Biology Teacher, 72(1): 31 – 36.
Recently Non-referred Published Essay:
Banschbach, V.S. “I Believe” column for the Burlington Free Press, Green Mountain Section, October 2, 2011. "We could make room at the top for wolves once again."
Recent Research Projects in Collaboration with Saint Michael's Undergraduates:
Ants as bioindicators in sandplain forest at the Camp Johnson, Vermont Army National Guard Base. Ongoing project assessing the usefulness of ants as bioindicators of ecosystem health in relation to time post-burn. Recent undergraduate collaborator: Emily Ogilvy, '12
Effects of urbanization on the behavior of Eastern Grey Squirrels. Recent undergraduate collaborator: Kaitlyn O'Donnell, '11
Ongoing Collaborations with Community Partners:
Wildlife monitoring using sign and tracks. Focal species: carnivores and large mammals, including bobcat, bear, moose, otter, mink and fisher. Collaboration to develop SMC student internship and research opportunities with Susan Morse, Keeping Track, Inc., non-profit organization based in VT.
Water quality and urbanization. Developing internship and project opportunities for SMC students with the Essex Junction Wastewater Treatment Plant Water Quality Superintendent James Jutras.
Politi Fund Award from Saint Michael's College for site visit to India to develop study abroad experience for Environmental Studies students with Prof. Laurie Gagne
Faculty Development Curriculum Grant: Project title: Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences Conference Attendance and Panel Participation, Portland, OR
Inducted as Graduate Member into the Biological Honor Society, Βeta Βeta Βeta
Faculty Development Grant. Project title: Ants as Bioindicators, for work at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University and in Joan Herbers’s lab at the Ohio State University
Faculty Development Grant. Project title: Ants as Bioindicators, for work in Costa Rica
Vermont Genetics Network Faculty Summer Research Grant. Awarded directly from VGN. Project title: Ant Species Diversity in Edge vs. Interior Forest Habitats in Vermont. ($8,000)
Favorite Course to Teach:
My favorite subject to teach is Environmental Studies because of the connections across so many different areas of learning. I have learned an enormous amount from developing coursework in environmental studies and connecting with the vibrant environmentally oriented broader community in Vermont as part of my work in developing the new Environmental Studies program.
I have a Staffordshire bull terrier dog and in the past owned an American Staffordshire terrier; I am a fan of the "bull breed" dogs and other terriers.
With a goal of becoming less dependent upon the corporate industrial agricultural system and fostering environmental sustainability, my family and I raise most of our own meat and some root crops and vegetables each year on less than three acres. We raise chickens for meat and eggs, ducks for eggs, pigs, and turkeys. We also grow hops for sale to local microbreweries.
One side of my family is from a tiny town in the Appalachian hills of Kentucky; the town bears the family name.
Valerie Banschbach, professor of biology and Environmental Studies Department chair, published a manuscript for August 2012 in the peer-reviewed entomological journal Psyche, entitled "Edge effects on community and social structure of Northern temperate deciduous forest ants." This publication reports the results of two years of field research, involving four Saint Michael’s undergraduate student researchers (who were Biology majors) who worked with Valerie. The work was conducted at the Mills Riverside Park in Jericho, VT. All of her co-authors were SMC student researchers who are now alumni.
Valerie also travelled to Uganda (August 4 – 17, 2012) to participate in a workshop regarding ant diversity assessment in the Kibale National Forest, near Fort Portal. The workshop participants came from 17 different countries and spent nearly two weeks collecting and identifying ants and found more than 60 genera, including two species not previously described from Uganda. Earlier, just after last year’s Commencement, Valerie travelled to Northern India (May 16- June 3, 2012) with 12 Saint Michael’s Environmental Studies students, as well as colleagues Mark Lubkowitz, associate professor of biology, and Mike Bosia, associate professor of political science and Gender Studies coordinator, to teach an Environmental Studies class on “Organic Farming and Conservation of Biodiversity” at the organic farm training center run by Navdanya. Valerie was the instructor of record for the class but Mark and Mike came along to provide additional perspectives, pilot their own work at the site and serve as additional group chaperones. During the course, participants learned about Indian methods of organic farming, composting and other sustainable living technologies. While at the farm they surveyed bird diversity on the organic farm versus neighboring synthetic-pesticide-using farms to assess impacts of organic farming on biodiversity. They also visited and met with scientists at the Wildlife Institute of India and the Forest Research Institute. And, they made cultural excursions into the spice and food markets of Old Delhi, the aarti Hindu ritual at Haridwar, a holy city on the Ganges River, went on a safari in the Rajaji National Park and trekked to a temple set on a mountain in the Himalayas. Valerie and Peter Hope, Instructor of Biology, worked with four Saint Michael’s student interns to survey plants and invertebrates at Camp Johnson (June and July, 2012) to establish summer baseline data for an upcoming controlled burn experiment that the Biology Department will take on in partnership with the Nature Conservancy, State of Vermont and personnel at the Army National Guard base at Camp Johnson. The student research intern positions were funded by the John C. Hartnett Endowment to the Biology Department. Some funding for the upcoming Spring semester 2013 also will be provided by the Harnett Endowment. This work relates strongly to the student research that all biology majors join during their first semester in the Biology 151: Intro to Ecology and Evolution laboratory.