Bobbi Wilson

Bobbi Wilson

2013–

In February, 2023, the Yale School of Public Health honored 9-year-old Bobbi Wilson for her efforts to curb the presence of the invasive spotted lantern fly. In October 2022, after learning in school how to eradicate these insects, the fourth-grader was spraying these flies around her home in Caldwell, New Jersey. She was approached by a police officer summoned by a man who called to report a suspicious person.

The then 70-year-old white neighbor told the dispatcher: “There’s a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees on Elizabeth and Florence. I don’t know what the hell she’s doing. Scares me, though.” Bobbi was traumatized by the event.

Shortly after the incident, an assistant professor of public health at Yale invited Bobbi and her family to meet other Black female scientists at Yale. Bobbi’s donated her lantern fly collection to the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale.

“Yale doesn’t normally do anything like this … this is something unique to Bobbi. We wanted to show her bravery and how inspiring she is.”

  • Ijeoma Opara, assistant professor at Yale