Sierra is in her first year at LSU pursuing a Master of Science degree in Entomology under the advisement of Dr. Nathan P. Lord. In the spring of 2020 she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the College of Wooster, where she completed an undergraduate thesis on genomic variation in melanin expression using Betta splendens color morphs under the advisement of Dr. Brian Carlson. During this time she additionally worked for Dr. Mary Gardiner at the Ohio State University/OARDC as an undergraduate assistant, performing duties including but not limited to selective insect and soil collection in urban/rural farm, abandoned, and prairie environments.
Sierra is currently working to identify pigments found in members of the tribe Stigmoderini (Buprestidae) in order to assess chemical convergence/divergence associated with disjunct geographic distribution and possible aposematism. These data will be used for an ancestral state reconstruction analysis, which will be applied within a pigment-centric, evolutionary framework. Her data will be disseminated primarily to the rapidly developing Insect Color Database, a project lead by Dr. Lord.
Her research has recently been displayed via poster at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology 2021 conference within the Symposium “The Integrative Biology of Pigment Organelles (Figon et al.).” Additionally, Sierra has been elected as the Vice President of the Entomology Club at LSU for the 2020-21 academic year, and applied for NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program in the 2021 grant cycle. She hopes to continue learning and teaching about insects indefinitely, and to create art inspired by and with nature. You can follow her for research, life, and art updates on Instagram (@sierra.weir and @weir.d.art)