Samuel Ramsey: The Importance of Peculiar Thinking | INSPIRE 2023
- Celebrated entomologist credited with making a groundbreaking discovery that could solve the largest global problem affecting bees
- A gifted storyteller who demonstrates how anyone can make an impact through resilience, creativity, and ingenuity
- Explores fascinating parallels between humans and nature to emphasize the importance of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion
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One of only a handful of African Americans to earn a PhD in entomology, Dr. Sammy Ramsey is an inspirational science leader and communicator who has defied the odds to achieve his dreams and is a testament to the power of grit, determination, and an unwavering commitment to one’s purpose. When people said he didn’t have what it took to make his mark in entomology, he proved them wrong by making a breakthrough discovery in the field of bee research — one that could potentially reverse a devastating pandemic in bee populations. And when people told him he didn’t “look” like a scientist, he remained true to himself and redefined what a scientist could look like. Dr. Ramsey has mastered the art of unconventional thinking to arrive at solutions to some of the most significant challenges shaping the future of our society and teaches organizations and individuals how they can do the same as they address their most-pressing challenges in business and life head-on.
Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Dr. Ramsey is an energetic presence on stage who is candid, thought-provoking, and humorous as he draws from his own personal life and professional journey to share inspiring stories of tapping into resilience, creativity, and ingenuity to overcome the odds, become a better communicator, and view problems from unique perspectives to arrive at game-changing solutions on the path to achieving individual and collective goals. Many of Dr. Ramsey’s key messages center on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) as he opens audiences’ eyes to more practical ways of approaching these topics in the workplace, pointing to real-life examples of how JEDI can elevate an organization from good or great to industry-leading. There’s a noticeable buzz during Dr. Ramsey’s talks as he interacts with his audience — all while weaving in examples from his research and making science more accessible and relatable to the masses.
Described as “your friendly neighborhood entomologist,” Dr. Ramsey is the endowed professor of entomology at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he teaches about effective communication and how understanding of the deep interconnectedness of all organisms can solve real-world problems. He is also the founder of The Ramsey Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to remove barriers that slow the progress of and decrease access to science by developing novel pathways to engage with and fund science. He has utilized his exceptional skillset working in academia, industry, and government — including alongside the U.S. Supreme Court, House of Representatives, and the United States Department of Agriculture.
A powerful voice in the science community and beyond, Dr. Ramsey is a National Geographic explorer who was recognized by the publication as a 2022 Wayfinder Award recipient, which honors individuals leading a new age of exploration through science, education, conservation, technology, and storytelling. He has shared his insights and expertise in the Hulu docuseries “Your Attention Please,” as well as in the Washington Post, on NPR, CNN, Wired, CBS Mornings, Khan Academy, Seeker, “The Today Show,” and several local news segments. He also authored a chapter in the book The Future of Exploration, in which 35+ world-renowned science leaders share firsthand accounts of adventure and discovery in their fields. Additionally, Dr. Ramsey leverages social media and his YouTube channel (Doctor Buggs) to inspire the next generation of curious minds and introduce them to all the possibilities that exist for them to flourish within STEM. A passionate advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the highest levels, he is determined to create a future where everyone has equal opportunities for success, regardless of their background or appearance.
Dr. Ramsey graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Entomology from Cornell and later earned a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland. He completed his post-doctoral training at USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory.
Bee Creative: Problem Solving Through Creativity and Ingenuity. Coffee, avocados, almonds — just a few of the things that dependent on honeybees for survival. As a young graduate researcher, Dr. Sammy Ramsey looked at an old question — what’s happening to the honeybees? — through a new lens to make a breakthrough discovery that turned the field of bee research on its head.
In this talk, Dr. Sammy Ramsey spurs audiences to think outside the box as he shares the story of what led to him connecting a family member’s health issues back to his bee research to arrive at a powerful hypothesis on the parasitic pandemic plaguing the honeybees. Walking audiences through his process for using unconventional thinking to push past stonewalls in thinking and productivity, Dr. Ramsey offers a unique approach for how anyone can creatively tackle complex problems to arrive at innovative solutions to the challenges they face.
You Can and You Will: Finding Resilience on the Path to Success. How did a little boy who was terrified of bugs become a professor and innovator in science and the study of insects? With the encouragement of his parents, a young Sammy Ramsey turned a debilitating fear into a passion and a successful career.
As with any journey, Dr. Ramsey encountered his fair share of adversity as he worked to make his dream a reality. After graduating from one of the worst performing high schools in the country, he worked hard to earn more than two dozen scholarships to pay for an Ivy League education his parents couldn’t afford to support. He continued to encounter hurdles as he became established in his career, navigating prejudice and fear as one of the only African American professionals in his field and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and dealing with his initiative to preserve honeybee health being defunded, before rallying the public around the cause. Now the endowed professor of entomology, Dr. Ramsey knows adversity, but he’s even better acquainted with perseverance. In this talk, he empowers audience members to look at the glass as half full as he discusses resilience from unexplored perspectives that will reframe how people process every challenge and setback on the path to success.
Beehives and Business: What Honeybees Teach Us About Teamwork. In his groundbreaking bee research, Dr. Sammy Ramsey uncovered the cause of the parasite pandemic in honeybees, and also observed the ways honeybees work together to fulfill the needs and goals of the colony. Exploring teamwork from a new angle, Dr. Sammy Ramsey reveals the core tenets of teamwork in honeybee colonies while sharing actionable strategies for how organizations in any industry can apply honeybee lessons in teamwork and leadership to get their teams buzzing and ready to perform at the highest levels.
Lessons in Effective Communication. If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that unclear communication has significant consequences. We now know that if we don’t change the ways we communicate, the next pandemic has the potential to be much worse for business and society. In this talk, science communicator Dr. Sammy Ramsey explains the vital role of clean and effective communication in matters of science and public health, and in any field, and offers practical lessons for how anyone can establish trust with their audience in their communications.
Unleashing Your Inner JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Ally. The road to becoming a leading scientist, researcher, and communicator was a challenging one for Dr. Sammy Ramsey. Despite the revolutionary discoveries Dr. Ramsey has made, as an African American member of the LGBTQIA+ community, for many years, his background and appearance were often met with surprise and doubt, even in professional settings.
Opening up to the audience, Dr. Ramsey leads a candid, and important, conversation on the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion, while adding a new element to the mix: justice. He goes beyond the cavalier usage of corporate buzzwords and points to data-backed insights that support the staggering benefits of diverse workspaces. He blends his own lived experiences with findings from his research to draw parallels between why natural ecosystems and human society thrive when they are at their most diverse.
Owning Your Identity. As an African American in science and a queer person actively involved in a faith community that is reluctant to embrace members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Dr. Sammy Ramsey knows what it’s like to feel disconnected because of who you are. No matter what groups he has found himself in, he could always count on being too much of some quality perceived as challenging to those groups — be it because of his race, sexual orientation, or some other aspect of his identity.
Yet, Dr. Ramsey sees his multi-hyphenate identity as truly a gift. It provides distinct vantage points from which to see the world and create new pathways to accomplishing your goals. In this talk, Dr. Ramsey demonstrates the ways in which he has owned his identity and leveraged its complexity to view problems differently and achieve success in ways no one could have predicted.
He rocked the ever-living world!
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