Dr. Higley was appointed an affiliate professor of entomology at ISU in 2019. His home institution is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he serves as a Professor of Applied Ecology in the School of Natural Resources. He is also a Visiting Professor since 2005 in the Dept. Fitossanidade, Sao Paulo State University- Jaboticabal, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and served as Adjunct Professor (2007-2016), in the Lagos State University College of Medicine, Lagos State University, Lagos, Nigeria, and as Adjunct Professor of Forensic Science (2013-2015) at St. Joseph’s College, Rensselaer, IN.
Broadly, Dr. Higley’s work is focused on insect ecology; however, he and his students have concentrated in four areas: (1) the ecophysiology of plant-insect interactions, with emphasis on photosynthesis and yield loss mechanisms, and applications through pest management decision making, (2) insect conservation biology, (3) decompositional ecology and forensic entomology, and (4) ecophysiology of insect extremophiles. Currently, most efforts are on the ecology of insects associated with the thermal areas of Yellowstone National Park, and this collaborative research is entering its fourth year in 2020, and expanding its scope.
Leon’s work on forensic entomology includes casework in over 25 criminal (primarily homicide) and civil cases, and he is a partner in Death and Decomp Sciences, LLC, a forensic teaching and consulting firm, with Dr Amanda Roe (a former PhD student). Beyond research, Leon has a strong background in teaching having developed and taught 20 different subject matter courses, developed a distance M.S. program in entomology, taught basic entomology to high school students for 10 years, and taught multiple courses and workshops on entomology, scientific ethics, and forensic entomology nationally and internationally. Currently, Leon teaches Principles of Ecology and Advanced Conservation Biology at UN-L.
Leon received a BA in chemistry (Cornell University), MS in entomology (Iowa State University), and PhD with a double major in entomology and crop production/physiology (Iowa State University). He has served as subject or associate editor of 4 scientific journals, has co-edited or written 5 books, has written 22 book chapters, and is co-author of 125 peer-reviewed papers (with an h-index = 40). His honors include the UNL Excellence in Graduate Education Award, the UN-L Distinguished Teaching Award, 2001 USDA Excellence in Teaching Award (North Central Branch), and from the Entomological Society of America: the CV Riley Award, the ESA Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching, and the Founder’s Memorial Award.