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Dr. Derek Hennen

PHD FELLOW ALUMNI   |   Global Change Center

VT Alumni April 2020, Entomology

Advisor: Dr. Paul Marek

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Derek joined the Marek Lab of Systematic Entomology at Virginia Tech in the fall of 2015 and completed his dissertation in April of 2020.  His research at Virginia Tech focused on the systematics, biodiversity, and natural history of Myriapoda (millipedes, centipedes, and others). Despite their diversity, millipedes are critically under-studied, even with a center of their diversity being the Appalachian Mountains. The unique habitats in the Appalachians and the environmental challenges faced by the region make it one of the best places in the world to study these organisms, particularly in light of the threat of climate change and invasive species.

He earned a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Spanish from Marietta College in 2012. After earning his B.S., Derek completed a year of service as an Americorps VISTA with a nonprofit focused on watershed health and environmental issues in southeast Ohio. Derek completed his M.S. at the University of Arkansas in 2015. His research focused on the endemic arthropods of western Arkansas, and he produced an updated listing of the state’s endemic arthropods, a synopsis of Arkansas’s 68 millipede species, and a study of the diurnal periodicity of leaf litter arthropods in an oak-hickory forest in northwest Arkansas.

Derek’s goals for his time as an IGC fellow included working with other scientists to assess how invasive species and climate change are affecting the biota of the Appalachian Mountains, making millipedes more accessible, and finding more ways to engagingly communicate science to the public.

Derek now works as the Slow the Spread Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Since graduating, he has published a field guide to the millipedes of Ohio and has continued his research on the taxonomy of Appalachian myriapods. He also runs a Twitter account dedicated to millipedes and other myriapods, @DearMillipede.

Last updated May 2023.