Valerie Banschbach Profile


Dr. Valerie S. Banschbach

Professor - Environmental Studies

Chair - Environmental Studies

Department: Environmental Studies
Office: 107 Annex (Courthouse)


Ph. D. University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida

B.A. Pomona College, Claremont, California

Research & Teaching Interests

Conservation ecology, agro-ecology, behavioral ecology, social insects (esp. ants and bees), tropical ecology, pedagogy and curriculum development in environmental studies and science; entrepreneurship for scientists

Scholarly Activities

Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar at the Wildlife Institute of India, July 2013 - December 2013, Uttarakhand.  Taught graduate-level Wildlife Science courses. Conducted research on ants as bioindicators of the impacts of organic farming.  My blog about the Fulbright experience and work is available at:

Environmental Studies Program Director, Saint Michael's College, Colchester, Vermont.  2010-2013.  Led the development of a new Environmental Studies Program at the College and became its founding director.

Chair of the Biology Department, Saint Michael's College, Colchester, Vermont.  2005 - 2010.  Served two terms as Chair of one of the largest departments at the College.

Research on ants as bioindicators in a fire-dependent, threatened ecosystem: sandplain forest in Vermont.  Since 2010, I have studied the ant community of burned and unburned plots of land in one of the most threatened forest types in the Northeastern United States, sandplain pine-oak-heath forest.  This work is done in collaboration with the Vermont Army National Guard who own and manage the largest remaining parcel of sandplain forest in the state of Vermont.  I have engaged 8 undergraduates in this work, and we have presented invited lectures, posters and talks at regional and national conferences in the USA and in India about the work. A peer-reviewed journal article describing some of our results appeared in the Northeastern Naturalist in 2014.

Research on ants as bioindicators in agro-ecosystems.  I began this work as a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar collaborating with researchers at the Wildlife Institute of India and at Navdanya, an NGO founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva.  To date I have studied ant communities of rice paddies in Uttarakhand.  Ongoing work will include the study of the roles of ants in local agroecosystems in Virginia.


Elected and served as a public school board member and board chair in the Underhill ID District, Jericho, Vermont, for 6 years.

Hiking and outdoor exploration.  Travel. Yoga.

Recent Publications

*Denotes undergraduate co-author.

Banschbach, V.S. and *E. Ogilvy.  2014.  Long-term impacts of controlled burns on the Ant Community (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of  a Sandplain Forest in Vermont.  Northeastern Naturalist. 21(1): NENHC-1-NENHC-12.

Banschbach, V.S., *Yeamans, R.L., *Brunelle, A., *Gulka, A. and *M. Holmes. 2012.  Edge effects on community and social structure of Northern temperate deciduous forest ants. Psyche. vol. 2012, Article ID 548260, 7 pages, doi:10.1155/2012/548260.  Available at: 

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:

Banschbach, V.S. and R. Letovsky.  2010.  The use of corn and sugarcane to produce ethanol fuel: A fermentation experiment for environmental studies.  American Biology Teacher, 72(1): 31 – 36.

Recent Presentations


  1.  Indian 10th National Symposium on Soil Biology, Ecology, Sustainable Agriculture and Social Insects.  National meeting of Indian Society of Soil Biology & Ecology and the Indian section of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects;  GKVK Campus of Univ. of Ag. Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India.  Oral presentation entitled, “Ants as Bioindicators of Forest and Agro-ecosystem Health”. 
  2. Invited presentation to the Dept. of Entomology, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Lecture entitled “Ants as Bioindicators of Forest and Agro-Ecosystem Health”
  3. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Uttarkhand, India.  Guest lecture on “Invertebrate Monitoring” in Training Program for Forest Officers from Bangladesh and Vietnam, primarily.
  4. Invited Presentation at the Center for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka, India.  Lecture entitled “Ants as Bioindicators: A Case Study from the USA and Ongoing Work in India” 
  5. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Uttarkhand, India.  Led workshop on “Ecological Importance of Ants” for Indian Forest Service Officers in a Conservation Biology Training Program.
  6. Northeast Natural History Conference, Springfield, Massachusetts.  Oral Presentation entitled“Ant diversity in burned versus unburned sandplain forest in Vermont”.  Co-author Emily Ogilvy*.        


  1. Entomological Society of America, National Meeting, Reno, NV; Co–author on Emily Ogilvy*’s poster presentation “A study of ant diversity in burned and unburned sandplain forest in Vermont”.
  2. Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, Annual Meeting, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT; 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 J. Ayres, B. Findley and R. Kujawa.


  1. Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, Annual Meeting, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR; Panelist for Session on “Capstones and Practica in Environmental Studies and Sciences”; Co-author R. Letovsky.
  2. Association for Biology Laboratory Education, Annual Conference, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada; Major workshop presenter, “The use of corn and sugarcane to produce ethanol biofuel: A fermentation laboratory exercise for environmental studies.”  Coauthor: R. Letovsky.

Available as a Media resource for the following topics

Environmental issues.  Conservation of biodiversity.  Insects: ants, bees and wasps in particular.  Animal behavior. Impacts of forest fire. Agriculture and food, including the topic of organic farming.  Corn and sugarcane as biofuels.  Environmental and wildlife conservation efforts in India.  Environmental education.

Willing to speak to professional, social or civic groups on

The ecological and economic importance of ants.  Organic farming and food issues, with a focus on India and/or Vermont.  Ants as bioindicators of ecosystem health.  Travel, teaching and research on wildlife and agriculture in India, as a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar. Behavior of social insects: ants, bees and wasps.  Impacts of controlled burns in a fire-dependent forest ecosystem.