Pictures courtesy of Brooklyn Bugs

The Eating Insects Athens Team

Eating Insects Athens is the brainchild of a dedicated team of volunteers from academia, industry, and the non-profit sector.  What do we all share?  A passion for increasing the use of and research around edible insects for food and feed.  More information about the team can be found below.

Dr. Marianne Shockley 

Dr. Marianne Shockley is an Academic Professional and Undergraduate Coordinator in the Entomology Department at the University of Georgia. She is a founding member of the North American Coalition for Insects in Agriculture (NACIA), a trade organization for insects as food and feed and has been involved in the insects as food and feed industry for over ten years. Marianne also serves as a subject editor for the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed.  She currently advises and mentors Entomology and Applied Biotechnology Undergraduates and teaches Entomology Outreach & Service-Learning, Entomology for Teachers, Forensic Entomology, Insects and Culture, and Tropical Entomology in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. 

Robert Nathan Allen

Robert Nathan Allen, or RNA as he’s often called, was bartending in Austin, Texas in 2012 when his Mom sent him a video about eating bugs. He took it a little too seriously and founded Little Herds in 2013 as an educational resource to the public about the nutritional benefits and resource efficiency of edible insects. From 2014 to 2016 he helped Aspire Food Group start a cricket farm in Austin TX, the first US farm to both grow insects for food and turn them into usable ingredients like cricket powder. In 2016 he co-organized Eating Insects Detroit, where he helped start the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture, a trade association for Insects as Food and Feed focused on forming a better public understanding of insect agriculture and spurring scientific research. He was the co-founder and Advisor to Austin-based startup GrubTubs, upcycling wasted food nutrients into high quality chicken feed for urban farms, using insects like the Black Soldier Fly. He regularly consults with companies and organizations interested in the growing Bug-Ag movement and is an industry expert for a wide variety of publications and media outlets.

Joseph Yoon

Joseph Yoon is the chef/owner of Yummy Eats and Dinner Echo, and the Executive Director of Brooklyn Bugs.  Brooklyn Bugs began as a three day festival in Brooklyn, New York celebrating edible insects, and has grown into a phenomenon featured in many notable media outlets including the New York Times, NPR, and Gizmodo. Brooklyn Bugs will soon release a line of edible insect products, and continue to produce events to raise the awareness of edible insects in America. Joseph currently lives in Brooklyn with his amazing rescue dog Hazel.

Dr. Valerie Stull

Valerie Stull first willfully ate an insect at the age of 14 on a family trip.  At the time she thought nothing of it, but today she is an environmental social scientist and global health professional who, in looking for linkages between agriculture, the environment, and human health, has become fascinated with edible insects.  Currently, Valerie is investigating farmed edible insects as a sustainable protein source in Zambia and the United States. She is passionate about finding ways to optimize the use of edible insects for human nutrition, smart economic development, and as a means to improve planetary health.  Valerie is the Co-Founder of MIGHTi (the Mission to Improve Global Health Through Insects), a collaborative research project that has projects including an evaluation of social perceptions of edible insects, the impact of cricket consumption on the human gut microbiome, as well as the nutritional value of insects reared using agricultural byproducts.  Outside of academia, Valerie dabbles in poetry, is an outdoor enthusiast, and advocates for social justice.

Cheryl Preyer

With a couple of decades in Quick Service Restaurant (Fast Food) Marketing for McDonald’s and later Wendy’s, Cheryl Preyer made the move from fries to flies!  With a dawning realization of the large amounts of food wasted in the USA combined with the need to feed a drastically growing global population, she found herself drawn to insects as an interesting solution, so she went to the fly factory.  She found herself at EnviroFlight, in the role of business development and marketing communications just as EnviroFlight was bringing their Pilot Plant online in late 2014 through acquisition by Intrexon. In addition to her current role as Partner at New Millennium Proteins, Cheryl now serves on the board of the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture (NACIA) and chairs the Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch Advisory Board.



Justin Butner 

 A chemist by education, a jack of all trades by     training, Justin Butner has worked in the pharmaceutical   industry, eco-tourism, financial advising, IT, and various service industries. He is a writer, a photographer, and a storyteller who has spent years traveling, working, and volunteering his way across 25 countries and four continents.  His plunge into the world of edible insects happened at a market in the mountains of northern Laos in 2016, and he’s been a devotee ever since.     Justin, as Entomo Central, is the Media Correspondent for both Little Herds, an educational non-profit, and Brooklyn Bugs, an events organization. With Little Herds, he authors an interview series with figures across the edible insect world, illustrating the topic through their eyes. With Brooklyn Bugs, he is curating an ‘Edible Insects Experts’ series, introducing the field through the words of the speakers at Brooklyn Bugs 2017, a who’s who of figures from around the industry. EntomoCentral can be found on Medium, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Dr. Jeffery Tomberlin





Dr. Jeffery K. Tomberlin is an Associate Professor & AgriLife Research Fellow in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University. Research in lab examines species interactions on ephemeral resources such as vertebrate carrion, decomposing plant material and animal wastes in order to better understand the mechanisms regulating arthropod behavior as related to arrival, colonization and succession patterns. The goals of his program are numerous; however, a major focus of his research is on waste management in confined animal facilities as well as concerns with food waste being placed in landfills. Because of Dr. Tomberlin’s commitment to protecting the environment while helping others, he, along with a group of close friends, started EVO Conversion Systems, LLC ( The mission of EVO is to protect the environment while producing protein with the black soldier fly. Through EVO, individuals are trained to mass produce the black soldier fly as well as partner with other companies that are a part of the EVO Consortium. EVO has partnerships throughout the world and welcomes others interested in learning how to become a collaborator on this exciting path towards sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Julie Lesnik

Julie Lesnik is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Wayne State University.  She was the organizer of the 2016 Eating Insects Detroit Conference. Her research focuses on the cultural and nutritional significance of insects in the human diet over the course of our evolution.  This work incorporates research in paleoanthropology with studies on nutrition and feeding ecology for modern foraging societies as well as nonhuman primates. Her book Edible Insects and Human Evolution is available this summer from the University Press of Florida.