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.
A team of scientists from 13 organizations in the U.S. and Canada is collaborating to find methods to enhance bee pollination of crops. MSU entomologist Rufus Isaacs is the project director of the five-year, $8.6 million USDA grant. The Michigan team is collecting data at blueberry, cherry and apple farms this year such as tabulating the number and types of bees visiting crops, collecting specimens and measuring the effect of three levels of pollination. See the whole story and video at MSU Today.
Entomology graduate student Lingxin Wang has been selected to receive a College of Natural Science $6,000 summer dissertation completion fellowship. Wang works in the lab of Dr. Ke Dong, which focuses on insect neurophysiology and toxicology. His doctoral thesis is about investigating the molecular mechanism of insect sodium channel resistance to pyrethroid insecticides.
Name: Roger Duncan Selby, although I go by Duncan City of Origin: Oakville, Ontario, Canada Major Professors: Mark Whalon and Stuart Gage
What are you researching? The central theme of my thesis research is to enhance alternative controls of the plum curculio, a pest of many tree fruits. The term “alternative” is used because the methods I work with are designed to replace existing methods that are effective, but controversial enough that their use has recently been curtailed by federal regulation. My research has three aspects: developing automated camera traps that precisely monitor insect activity in field conditions; lab and field observation of plum curculio behavior to improve trap and control efficiency; and extending and improving weather-based models used to predict and control increases in plum curculio populations.
Future career plans: Many academic and industry careers are attractive to me.
Why study entomology and what do you wish people understood about entomology? In my experience, people stereotype entomologists as hunters of miniature fauna. We’re either running around with nets and kill jars looking for rare or beautiful specimens; or we’re seeking out a destructive and ugly foe to smother with our arsenal of chemicals. However, I entered entomology because insects offer a vast array of study possibilities. Their impact on our lives and planet is extensive; pollinators, pests and predators influence the plants we depend on for food, bloodsuckers plague us, butterflies entrance us, fruit flies help us understand how genes can work, and ants help us understand how societies works.
What is your opinion on entomophagy (eating insects) as practiced in other world cultures? I have tried insect cuisine before, and highly approve of the concept for ecological and economic reasons, as long as the bug is disease-free and cooked. I confess I’ve only tried food using larvae, where the defining flavor tends to be the added spice, and the cooked insect resembles a harmless beansprout. I would probably think twice before eating a cooked adult arthropod that had legs and wings attached. In that scenario, I probably would do something silly like detach all the legs to eat them separately.
Name: Chelsea Rawe Hometown: Clarkston, MI Future plans: May be interested in something related to medical entomology, human health and international development.
What or who inspired your interest in entomology? When I first arrived at MSU I did not even know that entomology was its own field, however, as a freshman I was searching for a field that was both scientific and had reasonably direct, real-world impacts. I happened upon entomology. After a meeting with Walter Pett and Chris DiFonzo, I was hooked. I enjoyed my first summer working in the turfgrass lab with Terry Davis, and then I was set on studying entomology.
What do you wish other people understood about entomology? Many people don’t realize that insects impact their daily life. When I tell people I am an entomologist, people often take a few minutes to consider how that might fit into the world as a whole. I think entomology is an important field to study because insects impact food production, human health, economics and they are a beautiful example of diversity in the animal world. I hope others have the pleasure of being introduced to the field of study like I have been.
What is your opinion on entomophagy (eating insects) as practiced in other world cultures? I think eating insects makes a lot of sense. They are high in protein and readily available even to people with little economic power. When presented the opportunity, I have eaten several insects – both living and cooked – including several species of grubs and ants. The ants tasted much better than I had expected them to.
PhD grad Megan Fritz describes her research on malaria mosquitoes and why people choose to study entomology.
Zsofia Szendrei's students in her ENT890 course explain the concept of tritrophic interactions.
More bees are needed to pollinate crops. See what Rufus Isaacs and a team of scientists are doing to bolster the bee population.