Press Release

Bats and Coronavirus

April 13, 2020 – by Cole Hatcher

Kristen Lear ’11

Ohio Wesleyan Graduate to Discuss Topic’s Complexities in Online April 16 Event

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University alumna and bat conservationist Kristen Lear will deliver a free Zoom lecture at 1:30 p.m. April 16 discussing “Social and Ecological Complexities of Bat and Coronavirus Ecology.”

At Ohio Wesleyan, Lear majored in pre-professional zoology and spent two summers researching Evening Bats in Texas. Her work, supported by an OWU Connection Theory-to-Practice Grant, involved determining the style of house that attracted the most bats to live near the region’s pecan orchards. The bats help to control destructive, boring insects and reduce the need for chemical pesticides to protect the valuable trees.

As an OWU senior, Lear also earned a Fulbright Scholarship to research conservation of the critically endangered Southern Bent-wing Bat in Australia. The Fulbright enabled her to live and work for a year in Naracoorte Caves National Park in South Australia. While there, the 2011 Ohio Wesleyan graduate collaborated with researchers seeking to develop an automated counting system for critically endangered Southern Bent-wing Bats using thermal-imaging cameras and missile-tracking software.

In 2014, Lear earned a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support her enrollment in the doctoral program in the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. In 2016, she earned one of six 2016 Graduate Student Policy Awards given by the Ecological Society of America, enabling her to participate in policy training with U.S. lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

For Lear’s dissertation, she worked with the Mexican conservation organization Especies, Sociedad y Habitat, A.C. (ESHAC) to help conserve the endangered Mexican long-nosed bat and other nectar-feeding bats in northeast Mexico. Her research was supported by a 2018 National Geographic Early Career Grant.

Lear’s Zoom lecture will be hosted by OWU professor of botany and microbiology Laurie Anderson, Ph.D., and include time for audience questions. To view the lecture live, visit https://zoom.us/j/868210230 at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Learn more about Lear at www.nationalgeographic.org/find-explorers/kristen-lear, more about The OWU Connection program at www.owu.edu/connection, and more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Zoology and pre-professional zoology major at https://www.owu.edu/zoology.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.