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Published October 16, 2020
University of Wyoming Professor Jeff Lockwood is the guest speaker for the virtual Collegiate Peaks Forum Series, based in Colorado, Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m.
Lockwood will discuss “The Epic (and Operatic) Tale of the Rocky Mountain Locust: An Environmental Murder Mystery Featuring ‘Locust: The Opera.’” Lockwood, a mystery writer, is a UW entomologist, and a professor of natural sciences and humanities.
To participate in the lecture via Zoom, visit www.collegiatepeaksforum.org and open the Lecture Schedule tab. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the lecture.
Lockwood has written and lectured extensively on the invasion of locusts in the Rocky Mountain region. The insect blackened the skies of North America for centuries and formed a swarm covering nearly 200,000-square miles in 1875. Even more remarkable than the scale of its outbreaks was its sudden disappearance, with the last living specimen being collected in 1902.
The environmental history of the Rocky Mountain locust became the basis for “Locust: The Opera,” which was crafted as an environmental murder mystery in which solving the century-old extinction of an iconic species provides lessons for the modern world. Lockwood and UW Department of Music Professor Anne Guzzo wrote the original opera.
In the murder mystery story, the ghost of the lost locust haunts a scientist until he can figure out how such a dominating creature unexpectedly vanished. The tale of the Rocky Mountain locust is potentially vital for humans to come to terms with the power and responsibility regarding other inhabitants of the planet.
Lockwood earned a Ph.D. in entomology from Louisiana State University and worked for 15 years as an insect ecologist at UW. In 2003, he metamorphosed into a professor of natural sciences and humanities in the UW Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, where he teaches environmental ethics and philosophy of ecology. He teaches workshops in nonfiction in the UW Creative Writing Program, where he served as director.
He has written several books related to his academic work on the sciences and entomology, and has delved into fiction with a three-book noir mystery series featuring an ex-cop-turned-exterminator. The Riley the Exterminator books are “Poisoned Justice,” “Murder on the Fly” and “Lethal Fetish.”
The Collegiate Peaks Forum Series, now in its 18th year, is a free lecture series with presentations in Leadville, Buena Vista and Salida, Colo. For more information about the series, visit www.collegiatepeaksforum.org.