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.
MSU aquatic entomologist Eric Benbow and University of Dayton assistant professor Ryan McEwan were awarded a three-year, half-million dollar National Science Foundation grant for the support of their project, “A mechanistic framework for bottom-up biodiversity effects: riparian forest invasion impacts on headwater stream microbial and macroinvertebrate communities.”
Katie Demeuse, an undergraduate with an entomology minor working on research in Zsofia Szendrei’s lab, won the poster competition in the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) in the Agriculture and Animal Science Section with her poster titled “Determining the Mechanism of Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa Decemlineate) Resistance to Neonicotinoid Insecticides by Real Time PCR.”
Brett Blaauw, a former doctoral student of Rufus Isaacs had some of his Ph.D. research published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. His paper, titled “Flower plantings increase wild bee abundance and the pollination services provided to a pollination-dependent crop,” is one of the first to test the hypothesis that enhancing wild bee populations with wildflowers leads to changes in crop yield.
What are you researching? I’m interested in sustainable, long-term solutions that lessen agriculture’s footprint on the landscape and allow it to fulfill multiple ecosystem services. I am researching integrated pest management of the asparagus miner through developing a degree-day model to predict important phenology; creating a foundation for a conservation biological control program; investigating the spatial distribution of the pest and elucidating the semiochemicals emitted by asparagus and how those may alter interactions with arthropods.
Future career plans: My ultimate goal is to be a faculty member with a research and teaching or extension appointment. I have a post-doctoral research position with the USDA Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, WV, where I will work on an attract-and-kill approach for controlling brown marmorated stink bugs in apples and peaches using the BMSB aggregation pheromone.
If you could be an insect, which would you be? I would undoubtedly be an ant as they are eusocial insects that are highly efficient in monopolizing resources through complex chemical communication, and are the numerically dominant organism in most ecosystems.
Is there any particular arthropod you do not like? Definitely bed bugs. A single female can lay up to 500 eggs. If one fertilized individual makes it to a new home, the infestation can quickly get out of control. In addition, traveling to hotels and different countries increases risk, and nothing is quite as horrifying as having bed bugs infest one’s suitcase or suck one’s blood during the night. Combined with the fact that eradication is difficult, it’s the perfect combination of “ick factor” and insidiousness.
What is your favorite activity outside of entomology? My two favorites are cooking and photography. They are very different ways of thinking from how I usually have to think in science: cooking is loose, improvisational and intuitive, while photography is intuition-based and focuses mostly on aesthetics and beauty in the world, an aspect that some scientists forget to incorporate in their work.
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.