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 innovative 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 in his keynotes. He draws from his own personal life and professional journey to share inspiring stories of tapping into resilience, innovation, 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. 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, which conducts cutting-edge, novel research on issues affecting pollinator health globally — including parasite spread, disease management, and habitat preservation. 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 Bolder: Embracing Adversity and Achieving Excellence. How did a little boy who was terrified of insects become an innovator in science and the study of insects? And on his remarkable journey, how did he overcome the naysayers who said he wasn’t doctoral candidate material and even removed him from the program because he didn’t “look the part”?
Dr. Sammy Ramsey is no stranger to adversity, but he’s never let that stop him from achieving his dreams time and again. Even after paying his own way through an Ivy League education and becoming established in his career, he has continued to encounter hurdles most people will never know. From navigating prejudice and fear as one of the only African American professionals in his field and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community to dealing with his initiative to preserve honeybee health being defunded and rallying the public around the cause, his story is one of determination, resilience, and steadfast belief in a greater purpose. So, while Dr. Ramsey knows adversity, he’s better acquainted with perseverance. He reflects on his own journey from underdog to global changemaker to empower audience members to see the honey jar as half full and not let the things that other people say determine what they’re capable of doing. His positive perspective will reframe how people process every challenge and setback, and inspire them to embrace obstacles as part of their path to success.
The Power of Peculiar Thinking: Problem-Solving Through Creativity and Ingenuity. As a young graduate researcher, Dr. Sammy Ramsey looked at an age-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. Ramsey spurs audiences to think outside the box as he shares the story of what led him to connect a family member’s health issues back to his bee research to arrive at a powerful conclusion on the parasitic pandemic plaguing the honeybees. In this talk, he walks audiences through his process for using peculiar thinking that gets the brain processing ideas in new and unique ways and unlocks new outlets for pushing past stalls in thinking and productivity. The approach Dr. Ramsey shares gives people the freedom to dig deeper into all the ideas that they’re told are “too crazy” and “will never work” as they figure out how to tackle complex problems and innovate with impact.
Bugs, Bees, Business, and the Sustainable Future. Coffee, avocados, almonds — just a few of the things that are dependent on honeybees for survival. So many of the comforts we enjoy each day depend on nature being as it should, yet so much of how businesses operate is to the detriment of the unsung heroes of the global economy, such as bugs and insects. As an inspirational changemaker in the worlds of science and entomology, Dr. Sammy Ramsey walks the talk when it comes to creating a more sustainable planet where everything and everyone that inhabits the earth can thrive. As he explores the intersections of entomology, sustainability, and business, Dr. Ramsey underscores why it’s for the benefit of businesses to operate in ways that promote the health of the environment and shares the first steps organizations can take so that they can go green while operating in the black. Dr. Ramsey’s insights are designed to give audiences food for thought when it comes to their approach to sustainable business, while demonstrating how when nature profits, business profits as well.
Nourishing a Growing World: A Prescription for Food Security. In a world grappling with the complex interplay of climate change, population growth, economic disparities, and global health challenges, food security has emerged as one of the most pressing concerns for the future. In this talk, Dr. Sammy Ramsey explores the current state of affairs in food security, examines the challenges that lie ahead, and draws from his own firsthand research to propose practical solutions-oriented approaches for tackling these challenges. As Dr. Ramsey emphasizes the importance of advancing food security through sustainable agriculture, innovative technologies, equitable distribution, and community engagement, audience members will gain a better understanding of the critical role food security plays in our collective well-being (including within our organizations), and the imperative need for proactive, collaborative solutions to ensure a nourished, thriving world for generations to come.
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.
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.
AMAZING! Dr. Sammy received a standing ovation and people talked about him all night and even the next day. He absolutely crushed it! He was so lovely to work with, stuck around after our event and talked to many attendees, answered all the audience questions (there were a lot), and overall was just a stellar human. I truly cannot thank you both enough for getting him to one of our events. I was so impressed from start to finish.
Sammy was a HUGE hit! He was the perfect opener for our conference, and we had numerous people asking for information on him directly after the session in regards to how they can get him to speak at their events. He was the perfect mix of funny, thought-provoking, and a story that hit home for several of our audience members.
The feedback on Dr. Sammy has been overwhelmingly positive. He was a great fit for our closing general session “inspirational” theme and has a great story!
He rocked the ever-living world!
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