The Michigan State University Department of Entomologyexcels in research, extension and teaching to address the issues that confront the people of Michigan, our nation and the world. MSU’s entomologists look for systemic solutions across disciplines to address critical issues. We offer B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in entomology and consider graduate student education and postdoctoral experience to be one of our highest priorities. Many of our undergraduates further enrich their studies through working in research labs, volunteering in the Bug House and taking entomology or related study abroad courses.
What are you researching? I am using DNA and morphology to elucidate the possible evolutionary history of the ant genus Aphaenogaster and to provide identification keys to species in this genus.
Future career plans: I would like to determine the relationships between currently described species worldwide and create a comprehensive key to identify them. I would also like to continue my involvement in the Bug House to promote children’s interest in insects.
What or who inspired your interest in entomology? I began college at Purdue University as a general biology major, with no specific career goal in mind. I always liked insects, and when nothing else fit my sophomore schedule, I took an introductory entomology course taught by Dr. RC Dobson. He was enthusiastic about the subject and gave me a number of suggestions about what I could do with a B.S. in entomology. By the end of that semester, I had changed majors.
What has been your best experience in entomology? I landed my dream job right out of college at the Smithsonian Institution. I was chosen out of 100 applicants because I was the only one with museum experience. After working there for six months, an opportunity came up to travel to the Amazon with Dr. Terry Erwin and two other curatorial assistants to Manaus. We were in the Amazon for six weeks fogging trees with pyrethrum in forested areas that were scheduled to be demolished. We collected in three very different habitats, and brought back 200,000 insects to be curated and added to the collection at the Smithsonian. The story doesn’t end there. After I started graduate school at MSU, Sarah Smith, a recent MSU entomology graduate, visited the Smithsonian to look at bark beetles in their Coleoptera collection. She discovered two new species of beetle from the material I had collected in the Amazon over 20 years ago, Camptocerus igniculus and coccoformus.
Name: Stephen Curtiss Ireland
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Future plans: I’m hoping to join a Master’s program for the fall 2014 semester, and after that make a quick transition from academia into private industry while maintaining involvement in community IPM activities.
Why study entomology?There are lots of good reasons. I particularly like the notion of developing efficacious molecular pest solutions that also minimize harmful environmental externalities, so the results are good for us and good for the environment. Also, as an entomologist, our research subjects are highly usable model organisms. Finally, there are a number of compounds still unknown in insects that could potentially have applications in many areas of technology.
Who inspired your interest in entomology?My list of heroes is long, but Richard Feynman, Barbara McClintock and Niel deGrasse Tyson are a few standouts. All share an unmistakable veneration for the world as it is, and I think it’s in that spirit that I am inspired to pursue my own inclination: entomology.
What has been your best experience with entomology? A toss-up between a study abroad in Gainseville, FL and a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) spent in up-state New York. The Florida trip was part of the MSU Forensic Entomology (ENT 401) directed study and took place at the University of Florida’s Department of Entomology. It was a great first step into insect study and was a chance to meet some pretty amazing people and tour the entomology department. The REU was a Summer Research Scholars program at the Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY. This was a chance to see what others are doing in agricultural research and meet many new people.
Grad student Rob Morrison produces video on an IPM approach for asparagus miner.
Ke Dong and colleagues are working to combat resistant mosquitoes.
PhD grad Megan Fritz describes her research on malaria mosquitoes and why people choose to study entomology.