Name: Courtney Larson
Hometown: Plymouth, Minnesota
Major professor: Eric Benbow
What are you researching? I am interested in the effect of outside sources of organic matter on headwater stream communities of macroinvertebrates and microbes. I’m particularly interested in the effect of the emerald ash borer invasion and subsequent ash tree death on the stream community.
Future study or career plans: After earning my PhD, my goal is to work in academia doing research and teaching in aquatic entomology and invasive species ecology. This will ultimately further the science of aquatic ecology and benefit society by giving insight on better protection of aquatic resources.
Why study entomology? Insects are very diverse and interesting. They’re extremely abundant, yet so much is unknown about them. A lot of discoveries are waiting to be made in the field of entomology!
What or who inspired your interest in entomology? I grew up taking trips with my family to our cabin in northern Minnesota. The opportunity to explore the lakes and streams with a net in one hand and a field guide in the other inspired me to continue to study these systems.
What has been your best experience with entomology? The relationships I’ve built with other entomologists. The innovative research that other entomologists are doing, especially at MSU, inspires me to become a better scientist.
What do you wish other people understood about entomology? That entomology really isn’t just about bugs. Insects are important in our changing society. They have implications toward sustainability, health, globalization, economics and the well-being of our planet. When we study bugs, we are actually studying much, much more.
If you could be an insect, which insect would you be and why? A dragonfly because they are fast and get to live by beautiful lakes and streams.
What is your favorite way to spend your time outside of Entomology? Enjoying the outdoors, especially at U.S. National Parks. My lifelong goal is to visit every national park in the United States.
Name: Jessica Kansman
Hometown: Lowell, Michigan
Future study plans: Currently applying to Entomology graduate programs researching tri-trophic interactions and semiochemcials to be utilized in IPM. I plan to finish with a doctorate and potentially end up in academia.
Why study entomology? The major is incredibly diverse and has real world impacts and applications. There are so many insects in the world and so many research opportunities with them.
What or who inspired your interest in entomology? I started looking into the major after taking the insect-centered ISB course with Gabe Ording. It was while sitting in ENT 404, when Chris DiFonzo prefaced her lecture with “These images may be a little gross to some of you, but I am an entomologist so I poke dead things all the time,” that I knew I was in the right place.
What has been your best experience with entomology? Last summer I was working on an independent field research project on a commercial celery farm with Zsofia Szendrei. While checking my traps, Zsofia had me check the grower’s onions for thrips and communicate with him directly about thresholds. It was great to experience extension work first-hand and to directly help a grower.
What do you wish other people understood about entomology? Most people don’t understand the role entomologists have in agriculture or human medical research, and I have to explain “what can you even do as an entomologist” in most introductions.
If you could be an insect, which insect would you be and why? I’d like to be an assassin bug because they are so vicious and adorable. Plus, they are great natural enemies.
Was there ever a time when you didn’t like insects? I used to be very afraid of spiders, mostly because they are sneaky. Now, I am a Bug House volunteer, own a tarantula, and I plan to collect a couple more in the future.
Although you work with insects, is there any particular insect or arthropod you do not like and why? I am not a huge fan of harvestmen, especially in groups.
What is your opinion on entomophagy (eating insects) as practiced in other world cultures? I am so for this! Entomophagy is a great answer for sustainable agriculture. I am planning to experiment with cricket flour this semester, and I fully advocate eating insects.
What is your favorite activity/way to spend your time outside of Entomology? I am the president of the graduate/undergraduate secular and science registered student organization “Center for Inquiry.” Outside of this, I play the ukulele and participate in a campus choir.