Meet the Team

Laura Riggi

Laura is a bug lover and an ecologist, currently working on promoting beneficial insects in agricultural systems in Sweden. After graduating in Biology at the University of Edinburgh she organised a summer expedition to Mexico on orchid bees in coffee agro-systems and then continued travelling around Europe as a field assistant, collecting gall wasps. After a bug filled gap year, in 2011, she completed a Master in Crop Pest Management at Imperial College London where she got the munchies for entomophagy and co-lead the Bugs for Life project investigating edible insects in North Benin which turned out to be quite an adventure!

Rudi Verspoor

Rudi has loved insects and spiders since he was young. After graduating in biology at the University of Edinburgh he has been involved in projects looking at orchid bees, social spiders, and the urban ecology of pollinators. Alongside his work he also has a passion for insect photography. More recently he has completed a Masters in Entomology at Imperial College London which led him to become a member of the Bugs for Life team for their first trip out to Northern Benin in 2012. More recently, Rudi is studying a PhD at the University of Liverpool using insects to understand the biology of selfish genetic elements.

Mariangela Veronesi

Mariangela has a background in international development and specialised in environmental planning at the UCL Development Planning Unit. After looking at food security under various angles, including fieldwork in Ghana on urban agriculture, Mariangela came across edible insects. These little bugs seemed like the perfect resource to consider! Being part of Bugs for Life has created the opportunity to explore this further and led onto establishing great relations with the communities in Benin and many other ento-lovers across the world. When shes not plunged in the world of entomophagy she focuses her work on community driven solution to urban environmental problems in the Global South.

Marthe Saeter Jacobsen

Marthe is a Norwegian who lives in Scotland. She works for her own IT consultancy as a project manager, specialising in converging business and technology. She has always had a huge interest in the charitable sector and is committed to helping Bugs for Life meet it aims and objectives. Her focal role within the organisation is project management. Marthe also sits on the executive board of a charity, Lightyear Foundation.

Melissa Lennartz-Walker

Melissa is a life-long insect enthusiast with a background in molecular biology, and a particular interest in the societal impact of scientific research. After studying Genetics at Edinburgh University, her passion for social insects and host-parasite interaction led her to complete a PhD at Kings College London. Her research has brought her to look at the properties of the Nhem tree in India, to investigating Orchid-bees in Mexico, but in her spare time Melissa aims to be a fully-fledged bee-keeper. Recently she has moved to a Strategy and Policy officer role at biology Research Council. Bugs for Life aims to explore entomophagy and how this can be used to improve food security, and is the perfect example of how scientific research can benefit society. Within the team, Melissas role here is to promote partnerships and strategise these objectives.

Craig MacFarlane

Craig is a science communicator with a background in environmental science and a passion for educating people about the many ecological, economic and nutritional benefits of sustainable insect farming. He is responsible for the educational output of Bugs for Life in Benin and delivers talks and outreach events for the organisation in the UK.