ESA Names Winners of 2015 Awards

Annapolis, MD; September 16, 2015 -- The Entomological Society of America (ESA) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2015 awards. The awards will be presented at Entomology 2015, ESA's 63rd Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN November 15-18, 2015.

The following individuals are recipients of the 2015 ESA professional and student awards.

DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD IN EXTENSION—This annual award recognizes outstanding contributions to extension entomology. Dr. Alec C. Gerry is a professor of veterinary entomology and extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at the University of California (UC) at Riverside. Dr. Gerry received his BA in biology at UC Berkeley and his PhD in medical and veterinary entomology at UC Riverside.

Dr. Gerry’s research and extension program focuses on the biology, ecology, and management of pest arthropods and disease vectors associated with animal agriculture. Dr. Gerry has published over 100 scientific and extension articles, and given over 170 scientific and extension presentations in the area of veterinary entomology. He is a member and current chair of the USDA S-1060 multistate research and extension project, and in support of this multistate project maintains a website on Arthropod Pests of Animals ( and a database of state-registered pesticides for use against animal pests that can be accessed at this website. Dr. Gerry has provided considerable service to ESA, including current Vice Chair (elect) of the ESA MUVE section, former member and chair of the ESA Publications Council, member of the Editorial Board for Journal of Economic Entomology, and subject editor for Arthropod Management Tests. Invited extension service includes a California Senate Government Committee, UC-IPM Review Committee, UC Partnership for Advancement of Cooperative Extension (PACE), and UC Riverside Science Lecture Series and Community Engagement Committees.  Additionally, he has served on a number of extension workgroups and industry advisory boards in California and nationally.

Prior to appointment at UC Riverside in 2003, Dr. Gerry was a senior public health biologist for the California Department of Public Health, Vector-Borne Disease Section. Dr. Gerry is also a recent retiree from the U.S. Army Medical Department following 26 years of combined active and reserve military service, most recently as a senior entomologist (Rank: LTC) with the U.S. Army Public Health Command.

AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT—This award, which is sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection, is based on outstanding contributions that have a direct relation to Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Dr. James R. Hagler is a research entomologist with the USDA-ARS Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa, Arizona. He earned a BS in pest management and an interdisciplinary MS in entomology, biology, and range science from New Mexico State University, as well as a PhD in entomology from the University of Arizona.

Dr. Hagler is the pioneer of the insect “immunomarking” procedure. The immunomarking method has revolutionized both mark-release-recapture (central point release) and mark-capture (area-wide dispersal) research. He has established collaborations with scientists from a variety of research institutions who are using this procedure to study pest, natural enemy, and pollinator dispersal patterns.

Dr. Hagler’s biological control research has concentrated primarily on applying molecular techniques to examine predator feeding behavior. His molecular probes (prey-specific ELISAs and PCR assays, and most recently, a generic prey immunomarking procedure) for detecting prey remains in predator guts are considered state-of-the-art research tools. These assays have been used to identify key predators of cotton pests and to identify trophic level interactions of the entire cotton arthropod community on targeted prey species.

Dr. Hagler is widely known for his efforts in mentoring high school through postdoctoral students, as well as young research scientists. He has mentored students and postdoctoral researchers from over 40 academic institutions.

Dr. Hagler is an editor for the Journal of Insect Science. He has served as the predator subject editor for BioControl and the associate biological control subject editor for Environmental Entomology.

DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD IN HORTICULTURAL ENTOMOLOGY—This award honors any ESA member who has contributed to the American horticulture industry. Dr. Kenneth Alan Sorensen is an emeritus professor in entomology at North Carolina State University (NCSU), where he was extension specialist on horticultural crops for 36 years. He received his BS in agricultural education at the University Rhode Island in 1966, and was an NDEA Fellow for MS in 1968 and a PhD in entomology in 1970, with minors in horticulture and plant pathology. His research on the buffalograss webworm made him an authority on this turfgrass insect. At NCSU, Dr. Sorensen’s statewide extension responsibilities were on fruit and vegetable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs with emphasis on sweetpotato (SP), and he developed a sweetpotato weevil trapping system that is used throughout the world and has saved millions of dollars by preventing and overcoming unnecessary quarantines. He cooperated with Plant Pathology and Foundation Seed in aphid monitoring and virus management in the certification and SP micropropagation programs. This resulted in quality plants, increased yields, and produced greater economic returns for plant producers, growers, processors, and related industries. Ornamental SP for landscapes also increased, and SP weevil introductions have been minimized and quarantines limited. His colored identification leaflets and posters heightened grower awareness throughout the Southeast, and he cooperated with colleagues on SP weevil collections and DNA fingerprinting. He also helped procure IPM/RAMP grants amounting to over $2 million for research on soil insect management. He worked two summers after retirement with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture on SP weevil monitoring and trapping, and placed some 1,600 pheromone traps on over 12,000 acres in Johnston County. Dr. Sorensen has international experience in more than 30 countries; is a member of several professional and honorary societies; and has received more than 50 awards and recognitions from professional and civic organizations. He was creator (1977) and editor (1977-1982) of ESA's Arthropod Management Tests, and he has contributed more than 90 reports and more than 300 publications. He has organized more than 10 ESA symposia, given hundreds of talks, and created over 80 poster displays.

In retirement, Dr. Sorensen provides leadership to the ESA Senior Entomologist group, networks with annual symposia, and has completed three stints as a visiting professor with UF for four months each on vegetable insect monitoring and resistance to insecticides, on use of predatory mites, on Asian cockroach management, and on spotted wing drosophila varietal preference on strawberries. He prioritized needs at annual IR4 food use workshops, obtained industry and government grant support, and worked on minor use registrations for 33 years; he has obtained over 100 insecticide registrations. Dr. Sorensen has conducted more than 600 insecticide tests; helped establish several centers at NCSU (IPM, IR4, Small Fruit, and Specialty Crops); and taught the first distance learning class in entomology at NCSU, titled ”Insects and Plants.”

DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD IN TEACHING—This award is presented annually to the member of the Society deemed to be the most outstanding teacher of the year. Dr. James R. Carey is a distinguished professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of California (UC), Davis, with research interests in insect demography, mortality dynamics, and insect invasion biology. He received two degrees from Iowa State University, including a BS in fisheries and wildlife biology (1973) and an MS in entomology (1975). Immediately after receiving his PhD in entomology from UC Berkeley (1980), Dr. Carey was appointed assistant professor at UC Davis, an institution at which he has spent his entire career. Dr. Carey is a Fellow of ESA as well as of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Gerontological Society of America, and the California Academy of Science. He is the author of 250 scientific publications and three books, including the highly cited Demography for Biologists with Special Emphasis on Insects (Oxford, 1993). From 2003 through 2013, he directed an 11-university, National Institute on Aging-funded program titled “Evolutionary Ecology of Lifespan.” Considered the preeminent world authority on arthropod demography, Carey has been credited by professional demographers as having discovered a previously unknown life table identity now designated with the epithet “Carey’s Equality,” i.e., age composition and the distribution of remaining lifespans are identical in stationary populations. Dr. Carey is a recipient of two UC Davis academic senate awards, including the Distinguished Teaching (2014) and the Distinguished Service (2015) Awards. Professor Carey teaches two main courses at UC Davis, including an upper-division course titled “Longevity” (300+ students) and a lower-division GE online course titled “Terrorism and War” (100+ students). Dr. Carey was chosen to be one of the plenary speakers at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology in Orlando, where he will present “Insect Demography: A 21st century Tour,” the contents to be framed around his forthcoming lead-authored book, Biodemography: Concepts and Methods (Princeton).

EARLY CAREER INNOVATION AWARD—This award, sponsored by BASF, honors young professionals working within the field of entomology who have demonstrated innovation through contributions within any area of specialization (research, teaching, extension, product development, public service, etc.). Dr. Andy Michel received his BS in entomology from Purdue University and his PhD in biological sciences from the University of Notre Dame. After a postdoctorate at Notre Dame, Dr. Michel joined the Entomology Department in 2007 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, The Ohio State University, with research and extension responsibilities. Dr. Michel manages the Insect Molecular Ecology and Adaptation Laboratory (iMEAL), whose overall goal is to understand how insect pests adapt to rapidly changing selection pressures in agroecosystems, such as host-shifting to important crops or resistance to management tactics. Specifically, his research uses molecular ecology and population genomic techniques to characterize the genetic basis for insect pest adaptation and how these adaptive traits spread across the landscape. Understanding and demonstrating how insects adapt, as well as communicating research-based insect management recommendations, delays the evolution of resistance or emergence of pests, and ensures safer and more productive food supply. His main focus has been understanding the interaction between the soybean aphid and aphid-resistant soybean in order to extend the durability of host-plant resistance. He has also been part of a collaborative effort to understand western corn rootworm resistance adaptation to Bt corn. His research has produced more than 50 publications and leveraged over $5 million as a principal investigator and a co-principal investigator. 

HENRY & SYLVIA RICHARDSON RESEARCH GRANT—This grant provides research funds to postdoctoral ESA members who have at least one year of promising work experience, are undertaking research in selected areas, and have demonstrated a high level of scholarship. Dr. Ebony Murrell earned her PhD at Illinois State University in 2012, where she was advised by Dr. Steven Juliano. She has worked as a postdoctoral research associate in agroecology at University of Wisconsin—Madison with Dr. Eileen Cullen, and at the Pennsylvania State University with Dr. Jason Kaye, Dr. Mary Barbercheck, and Dr. David Mortensen. She has a broad interest in pest insect ecology, including plant-insect interactions, oviposition behavior, predator-prey relationships, interspecific competition, and changes in community composition over time.

Dr. Murrell greatly enjoys conducting research in agroecosystems because she considers them to be an ideal system in which to study both basic and applied insect ecology. In addition to research, she also enjoys teaching and explaining research to a broad audience. She received the Ecological Society of America Murray F. Buell Award for Best Student Presentation in 2012, and received an Illinois State University Teaching Award for her curriculum development in biostatistics.

In her current position, Dr. Murrell is investigating bottom-up effects of different cover crop species on arbuscular mycorrhiza associations with corn plants, and whether these differences in mycorrhizal associations alter corn plant defense to insect herbivory. She hopes that her research can one day be used to develop bottom-up mechanisms of herbivore control that can be implemented as part of Integrated Pest Management programs in organic and conventional agricultural systems.

NAN-YAO SU AWARD FOR INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY IN ENTOMOLOGY—Each year this award is given to an ESA member who is able to demonstrate through his or her projects or accomplishments an ability to identify problems and develop creative, alternative solutions that significantly impact entomology. Dr. Bruce Tabashnik is a Regents’ Professor and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona. He earned his BS in zoology at the University of Michigan and his PhD in biological sciences at Stanford University. Dr. Tabashnik has advanced understanding and management of insect resistance, thereby promoting sustainable, environmentally friendly pest control. His research has shaped the refuge strategy adopted in conjunction with most of the cumulative total of more than one billion acres of transgenic insecticidal crops grown worldwide since 1996.

Dr. Tabashnik pioneered the field of resistance management, starting with a landmark computer modeling paper in 1982 based on his postdoctoral research at Michigan State University. This work clarified how evolution of resistance could be delayed most effectively by refuges of untreated areas that allow survival of susceptible insects. When he was a faculty member at the University of Hawaii (1983-1996), his team discovered the first case of field-evolved resistance to insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

A year after moving to the University of Arizona in 1996, his group reported the first experimental evidence that refuges can delay resistance to Bt toxins. His team’s 2003 paper identified the mutations conferring resistance to Bt cotton in pink bollworm. This breakthrough and related modeling laid the foundation for integrating Bt cotton with mass releases of sterile moths to virtually eradicate this invasive pest from the Southwestern United States. Applying fundamental knowledge of the mechanism of resistance to Bt toxins, Dr. Tabashnik collaborated with colleagues to develop and test genetically engineered Bt toxins effective against pests that are resistant to native Bt toxins. Google Scholar lists over 16,000 citations of his more than 300 publications. His many awards include election as a Fellow of ESA and American Association for the Advancement of Science.

RECOGNITION AWARD IN INSECT PHYSIOLOGY, BIOCHEMISTRY, & TOXICOLOGY—This award, which is sponsored by Apex Bait Technologies Inc., recognizes and encourages outstanding extension, research, and teaching contributions in urban entomology. Dr. Angela E. Douglas is the Daljit S. and Elaine Sarkaria Professor of Insect Physiology and Toxicology at Cornell University. She received a BA in zoology from Oxford University in 1978, and a PhD from Aberdeen University, United Kingdom (UK), in 1981. Dr. Douglas was awarded a 10-year research fellowship from the Royal Society of London, during which she developed a research program on insect nutritional physiology of phloem-feeding insects. Her fellowship research included the first direct physiological evidence that symbiotic bacteria provide aphids with essential amino acids, nutrients in short supply in the aphid diet of plant phloem sap. Following the fellowship, Dr. Douglas was a faculty member at the University of York (UK), where she was promoted to a personal professorial chair, and she took up her current position at Cornell University in 2008. Dr. Douglas’ research concerns insect interactions with beneficial microorganisms, including the application of genomic data to model metabolic and signaling networks in insect-microbial interactions. The three foci of her current research are metabolic coevolution between plant sap-feeding insects and their intracellular bacterial symbionts; sugar utilization by phloem-feeding insects, and its role in carbon nutrition and osmoregulation; and impact of the taxonomic and functional diversity of gut microoorganisms on the nutritional function of drosophilid flies. Her research is built on the commitment to explain how insects function in terms of underlying molecular mechanisms, and to use this information to predict how insects interact with other organisms and the wider environment. This commitment has informed Dr. Douglas’ writing of many scientific reviews and three books, including The Symbiotic Habit (2010) and the fifth edition of Insects: Structure and Function (2012), co-edited with Steve J. Simpson, and it guides her teaching of students and outreach activities for school teachers and the wider community.

RECOGNITION AWARD IN URBAN ENTOMOLOGY—This award recognizes and encourages outstanding extension, research, and teaching contributions in urban entomology. Dr. Coby Schal is the Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professor of Entomology at North Carolina State University (NCSU). He has a BS from SUNY-Albany, a PhD in entomology from the University of Kansas (with Bell), and postdoctoral training in chemical ecology at the University of Massachusetts (with Cardé). Between 1984 and 1993, Dr. Schal was assistant and then associate professor of urban entomology at Rutgers University.

Dr. Schal’s research group takes an integrative approach to challenging questions in insect biology and urban entomology. Chemical ecology projects include studies of cockroach sex and aggregation pheromones, roles of microbes in mosquito and sand fly oviposition, and cuticular lipids in ant and termite nestmate recognition. Research on gustation includes collaborative projects on the neuronal basis of sugar-aversions in cockroaches. Recent research has also addressed the biology of cockroach-produced allergens, intervention strategies to mitigate their pervasiveness in the indoor environment, and studies on the impacts of environmental interventions on health outcomes in asthmatic children. The Schal Lab has also been investigating the recent resurgence of bed bugs, through collaborative research in population genetics and chemical ecology.

Dr. Schal’s research has been funded by EPA, HUD, NIH, NSF, USDA, private foundations, and industry, and he has published over 260 refereed papers. He has served as subject editor for the Journal of Economic Entomology, on the editorial boards of five other journals, and on the ESA Governing Board. Schal has mentored 33 graduate students and 35 postdoctoral researchers. He teaches insect behavior, urban entomology, and chemical ecology. Recent honors include Lifetime Honorary Membership in the North Carolina Pest Management Association, Distinguished Achievement Award in Urban Entomology from the National Conference on Urban Entomology, Fellow of ESA, Fellow of AAAS, Silverstein-Simeone Award from the International Society for Chemical Ecology, Distinguished Member of Sigma Xi, and the Holladay Medal, NCSU’s highest honor.

THOMAS SAY AWARD—This ESA award acknowledges significant and outstanding work in the fields of insect systematics, morphology, or evolution. Dr. Andrew R. Deans grew up in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, where he spent afternoons and weekends flipping rocks in the woods and treading in the tide pools of Buzzards Bay. He took this burgeoning passion for natural history to the University of New Mexico, where he had opportunities to work on projects aimed at understanding the ecology and parasites of southwestern bats. These research experiences, based at the Museum of Southwestern Biology, exposed him to entomology, systematics, and the power and relevance of natural history collections. After earning his BA from the University of New Mexico (1996), Dr. Deans went to the University of Arkansas for his MS in entomology (2000) and the University of Illinois for his PhD (2005). His graduate degrees, both under the direction of Dr. James B. Whitfield (2011 Say Award recipient), focused on the systematics of parasitoid Hymenoptera.

Since 2007, Dr. Deans has served as professor and curator of two major research collections, first at North Carolina State University (2007–2012) and now as director of the Frost Entomological Museum at Penn State. His research program continues to focus on the systematics of parasitoid Hymenoptera, while he also works with colleagues to develop accessible approaches to generating and sharing phenotype data. His research program has generated more than $4.2 million in grants since 2009, and he has coauthored more than 50 papers.

Dr. Deans also teaches an advanced course on insect systematics (insect biodiversity and evolution), part of the core curriculum at Penn State, and co-developed an active learning seminar on insect morphology. His latest project aims to change the ways that systematic entomology and comparative morphology are taught and includes open access teaching materials.


LARRY LARSON GRADUATE STUDENT AWARD FOR LEADERSHIP IN APPLIED ENTOMOLOGY—This award, which is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, recognizes Dr. Larry Larson’s role as a leader and pioneer in insect management and carries that legacy to the next generation of leaders in applied entomology. Alix Whitener received her BS in biology-anthropology with a minor in women’s studies at Western Washington University (WWU), where she was a coxswain for WWU’s NCAA women’s rowing team. She is beginning her third year as a PhD student at Washington State University under advisor Elizabeth H. Beers. Alix’s research project focuses on the behavior and control of spotted wing drosophila in sweet cherry systems. This research is an extension of work she began as an undergraduate laboratory and field technician in Dr. Beers’ laboratory. She hopes to contribute to tree fruit IPM in her current research project and as a professional in the future. At Washington State University (WSU), Alix is serving her second term as president of WSU’s Entomology Graduate Student Association. She is a member of the WSU Linnaean Games team and is excited to compete at the National Meeting a second year in a row. Alix co-chaired the branch Career Fair for the last two years and is looking forward to improving the event for next year’s ESA Pacific Branch meeting. She also serves as the Pacific Branch representative to the Student Affairs Committee. This year at Entomology 2015, Alix will present a paper in the Student Competition, compete in the Linnaean Games, and help run the Student Debates.

LILLIAN & ALEX FEIR GRADUATE STUDENT TRAVEL AWARD IN INSECT PHYSIOLOGY, BIOCHEMISTRY, OR MOLECULAR BIOLOGY—This award aims to encourage graduate students working with insects or other arthropods in the broad areas of physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology to affiliate with ESA’s Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology Section and to attend the ESA Annual Meeting or an International Congress of Entomology.  Emily Meineke graduated from University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill in 2008 with a BS in environmental science. After graduation, she traveled across Southeast Asia and the United States. She has served as a seasonal technician on several ecology projects and as an Americorps trail worker.

Emily is now a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University studying how urban warming leads to higher chronic pest densities on street trees. Her focus is on scale insects, one of the most ubiquitous and cryptic insect groups on urban plants. Generally, she is interested in how global changes like urbanization and climate change affect ecosystems. Emily is or has been supported by an EPA STAR Fellowship, a Garden Club of America Urban Forestry Fellowship, and a Preparing the Professoriate Fellowship, among others.

Emily grew up in Pitt County, North Carolina, with her parents and three brothers. She now lives in downtown Raleigh under a big willow oak tree.

STUDENT ACTIVITY AWARD—Sponsored by Monsanto Company, this award is presented annually to recognize a student for outstanding contributions to the Society, his or her academic department, and the community, while still achieving academic excellence. Tamra Reall Lincoln recently graduated with her PhD from the University of Missouri. Her graduate research, under the direction of Dr. Richard M. Houseman, explored ecological influences of entomopathogenic fungi on founding pairs of the subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes. She also received a minor in college teaching and a graduate certificate in science outreach. Tamra received her BS in horticulture from Brigham Young University. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate with the USDA-ARS at the Biological Control of Insects Research Laboratory in Columbia, Missouri.

Tamra is very active within her community, her school, and ESA. In her community and at MU, she participates in many outreach activities, including organizing award-winning hands-on science events and speaking at schools about the importance of science, research, and insects. Tamra served as president of Mizzou’s graduate student organization, the CV Riley Entomological Society, and co-authored “Ask a Scientist” articles for the local newspaper. At ESA branch and annual meetings, she enjoyed participating in Linnaean Games competitions and presenting papers and posters. Tamra served on the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) as vice chair and chair, as well as on the Program Committee. In these positions, she represented students’ needs and assisted in organizing the Student Symposium, the Student Debates, and the Student Reception for ESA in 2013 and 2014. Currently, Tamra continues to represent student and early professionals’ needs. She serves as student representative to the Governing Board (GB), as GB liaison to the Student Transition and Early Professional Committee and the SAC, and also as ESA’s early career leader representative to the Council of Science Society Presidents. Additionally, Tamra serves on the 2016 ICE SAC.

Outside of school and work, Tamra enjoys beekeeping and exploring the outdoors with her husband and junior entomologist children.

JOHN HENRY COMSTOCK GRADUATE STUDENT AWARDS—These six awards are given to one graduate student from each ESA Branch to promote interest in entomology and to stimulate interest in attending the ESA Annual Meeting.

Mia Park (Eastern Branch) is currently assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Integrated Studies and research faculty in the Department of Biology at the University of North Dakota. She received her PhD in 2014 from the Department of Entomology at Cornell University. Mia’s research focuses on pollination services provided by wild bees. Her recent work has shown that wild bees are important pollinators in eastern apple orchards, and that their visitation to apples is driven by the combined effects of pesticide use and landscape complexity. To forward appreciation for wild pollinators and their conservation, Mia has given talks throughout New York State, produced a well-received handbook entitled, “Wild Pollinators of Eastern Apple Orchards and How to Conserve Them,” and recently released an educational video, available on YouTube, called “Pollination: Trading Food for Fertilization.”

Mia has received several research awards and fellowships, including a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Land Grant Extension Fellow. Mia has served as a national meeting volunteer, moderator, program symposium co-organizer, and journal reviewer for ESA. Service in her community includes supporting events that encourage women in science and that engender appreciation of insects.


At the bottom of all this study and activity, Mia simply loves insects and the boundless sense of discovery that comes from studying them. She appreciates being part of ESA, where she readily finds others who feel the same.

Amy Morey (North Central Branch) is a PhD candidate in entomology at the University of Minnesota working with Dr. Rob Venette and Dr. Bill Hutchison. Amy’s research uses cold hardiness phenotypes of Epiphyas postvittana to explore the underlying cold hardiness mechanisms of this invasive insect, which, if understood better, would improve spatially explicit strategies to predict and prevent its spread. Her research integrates fundamental entomological research with societal factors to improve the scientific basis for pest risk analysis and policy related to invasive insects. Additionally, Amy was awarded an NSF-IGERT and will receive a minor in the risk analysis of invasive species and genotypes. Amy received a BA in biology from Luther College, and an MS in entomology from the University of Minnesota, where she researched the cold hardiness and Integrated Pest Management of Helicoverpa zea.

Dr. Mohammad-Amir Aghaee (Pacific Branch) received his doctorate at the University of California, Davis, working on Integrated Pest Management tactics for the rice water weevil (Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus Kuschel) in California rice. He was able to replicate, but not fully explain, the mechanisms behind winter flooding as a pest management tool for the weevil and successfully tested a biopesticide based on Bacillus thuringiensis ssp. galleriae as a means of controlling the insect. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at North Carolina State University working on Helicoverpa zea resistance to Bt cotton and on brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) effects on cotton and movement between crops. In his spare time, he enjoys painting, sketching, and improving his culinary skills.

Jessica Hartshorn (Southeastern Branch), a native of Dayton, Ohio, received her BS in zoology with a minor in chemistry from Southern Illinois University (SIU)—Carbondale in 2010. During her time at SIU, she worked on projects examining the ecology of Lyme disease at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, macroinvertebrate community dynamics in streams of the Konza LTER in the Flint Hills of Kansas, and conservation of native bamboo in the Southeast. In 2012 she completed her MS in entomology at the University of Arkansas looking at oviposition behavior of the native woodwasp, Sirex nigricornis. She will complete her PhD in entomology at the University of Arkansas in May of 2016 evaluating triggers of adult S. nigricornis emergence and parasitism of adult female woodwasps by nematodes.

Meaghan Pimsler (Southwestern Branch) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Her work uses de novo transcriptomics to investigate sexual dimorphism and behavioral ecology in an invasive blow fly with a unique and poorly understood sex determination mechanism. She received her BS in entomology from Cornell University in 2007, and subsequently spent three years in Okinawa, Japan, working at two high schools as an English as a Second Language teacher. After recuperating sufficiently from the rigors of her undergraduate education, she began her postgraduate journey with Dr. Jeffery K. Tomberlin and Dr. Aaron M. Tarone in 2010.


Meaghan has had a deep and abiding love of arthropods her entire life, and determined at the age of four that she would be an entomologist. She helped found entomology clubs in both high school and college and has helped organize many entomology-themed outreach and enrichment events, including working with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on its BugFest on the Mall and with Cornell University’s Entomology Department on its Open House. Meaghan is primarily interested in forensic entomology, and this has led to a certification in crime scene investigation with Texas Engineering and Extension Services, teaching workshops to federal, state, and local law enforcement groups, and the opportunity to coordinate symposia for 2013 and 2014 ESA conferences on “Youthful Perspectives in Forensic Entomology” with Ms. Charity Owings. But it’s not all hard work and science for Meaghan; she was also a member of TAMU’s graduate student Linnaean Games Team for two years and the captain of the Debate Team for the 2013 ESA Student Debates. She enjoys baking, science fiction movies, and training in mixed martial arts.


Monsanto Research Grant Awards fund outstanding ESA student members who are undertaking research projects. The funds may be used for salaries, equipment, supplies, or travel to initiate, accelerate, augment, or expand a research project.

Geoffrey Broadhead graduated from North Carolina State University in 2010. Since then he has spent time as a field assistant in North Carolina and a research technician in Texas working on projects involving Drosophila developmental physiology and neurobiology, before starting in the graduate field of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University in the fall of 2012. His research interests are primarily focused on the chemical ecology of insect-plant interactions—particularly what information an insect can learn about a plant using its chemical senses, and how those senses might be fooled by an enterprising plant or a curious researcher. He hopes to address these questions using a combination of chemical analyses, behavioral experiments, and electrophysiology.

Donghun “Andy” Kim was born in Busan, Korea. He finished his BS (2006) and MS (2008) at Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea. During his master’s studies, he conducted research with leafhoppers, investigating their physiological responses to temperature stress, and subsequently developed a novel control method using natural resources. In 2008, Andy started his doctoral studies at Texas A&M University, later transferring to Kansas State University to work with Dr. Yoonseong Park in 2011. Andy is currently a PhD candidate and plans to complete his degree in December 2015.

Andy’s dissertation research focuses on tick neurophysiology, in particular the mechanisms of tick salivary secretion by classical physiology using pharmacological tools and modern technology using genomic tools (analysis of transcriptome). He has published on the topic of the two distinct physiological roles of two dopamine receptors in tick salivary secretion in the Journal of Experimental Biology in 2014 (highlighted at Inside JEB). Additionally, he is studying the genomic levels of gene regulation underlying the processes of pathogen acquisition and development of immunity toward the pathogen via tick transcriptome analysis. Andy’s research interests are not limited only to tick salivary physiology, but are more open to arthropod neural and endocrine physiology. His ultimate goal is to develop a novel mode of action insecticides through a deeper understanding of arthropod physiology.

Andy is organizing the Korean Young Entomologist Symposium at the ESA 2015 meeting and will play an integral role in connecting scientists for future collaborations between the United States and Korea. He is deeply appreciative of his advisor, Dr. Yoonseong Park, Monsanto, ESA, and the award committees.

Mitzy Porras is a biologist, currently enrolled in the entomology and the international agriculture development doctoral programs at Penn State University. Her research goal is to integrate different techniques to study ecophysiological aspects of the insect-plant interactions, and the application of this knowledge to natural and agro-ecosystems. Mitzy, a Colombian native, earned her BSc in biology from the National University of Colombia in 2010 with a concentration in ecology. During her undergraduate program, she worked in insect biodiversity at Institute of Natural Sciences and attended the international course of insect-plant interactions in Uruguay. She then joined the laboratories of Dr. Aldo Malavasi in Moscamed-Brazil and Dr. A. Lopez-Avila at Colombian Agricultural Research Center, where she was interested in ecology of medflies and whiteflies. She developed a new tool for the control of whiteflies using plants’ secondary metabolites. Mitzy was trained in ecophysiology of ectotherms in the Ecophysiology and Evolutionary Physiology Laboratory at University of Sao Paulo.

In her research at Penn State, Mitzy studies the ecophysiological and behavioral mechanisms for insect coexistence, using tools from molecular and chemical ecology to elucidate the resource allocation and partitioning by aphids. She is happy to be working on ecology using insects as a model system, and enjoys time in the lab and field exploring the wonderful world of these small organisms. Mitzy has been invited as a speaker at the International Aphid Symposium and Zoological Conference.

Outside of the lab, Mitzy loves to go scuba-diving, kayaking, and kite-surfing, and she also enjoys dancing and traveling.

Loren Rivera Vega is a PhD candidate in entomology with a dual degree in international agriculture and development at Penn State University. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana (Zamorano) in Honduras in 2007. In 2011, she completed her master’s program at The Ohio State University, working on the comparative transcriptomics of North American and Asian ash (Fraxinus spp.) trees for identification of potential resistance to emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). She is currently advised by Dr. Gary W. Felton and studies the effect of host plants on the composition of saliva in the cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni) and its impact on plant defenses. She recently spent six months at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) studying the response of black mustard roots (Brassica nigra) to cabbage rootfly (Delia radicum) under the supervision of Dr. Nicole van Dam. Loren has published four first-author journal articles and collaborated on five others. She is also involved in teaching and particularly enjoyed her experience with co-creating and co-teaching the tropical entomology graduate seminar. Her research interests focus on understanding the factors that affect plant defenses against insect herbivores both above- and belowground as well as the social impact of scientific advancement in developing countries.

Qian “Karen” Sun graduated with a BS in 2008 from the Honors Program of Life Science at China Agricultural University, where she continued to obtain an MS in ecology. Being fascinated by the biology of social insects, in 2010 Qian began a PhD program in entomology at the University of Kentucky, working on termites with Dr. Xuguo “Joe” Zhou. Her dissertation research aims to understand the adaptive value and underlying mechanisms of undertaking behavior in termites, by integrating behavioral study with chemical ecology and molecular biology. Undertaking behavior, the disposal of dead colony members, is a convergent trait in social insects to mitigate disease hazard. Qian’s research demonstrated differential undertaking responses toward corpses with various origins and postmortem times, and identified chemical cues from the dead that mediate corpse cannibalism and burial. The Monsanto Research Grant will support her to investigate the influence of entomopathogenic fungi on corpse management in termite colonies, which is an important component to understanding the environmental factors regulating social behavior.

Qian has received four fellowships to support her graduate studies at the University of Kentucky. She has published her research results in peer-reviewed journals, including International Journal of Biological Sciences and Scientific Reports. In addition, Qian has presented actively at national and regional meetings of ESA, and received several awards for her presentations. While working with termites, Qian found the study of eusociality is enormously exciting, and she took the initiative to study worker-reproductive differentiation in termites as her side project. Upon graduation, she will be seeking a postdoctoral position and continue exploring the evolution of eusociality in the animal kingdom.


The Monsanto Student Travel Awards were created to promote interest in entomology at the graduate level and to stimulate interest in attending ESA’s Annual Meeting.

Flor E. Acevedo is a PhD candidate at the Pennsylvania State University. Her dissertation research focuses on the study of the adaptive mechanisms used by polyphagous insects to exploit different host plants. She has been working in entomology for the last 10 years; first, for her undergrad thesis research, she developed DNA molecular markers in the coffee berry borer to study the dispersion of this insect in field conditions. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2006 from Universidad de Caldas (Colombia), she joined the entomology team of the Colombian Center for Coffee Research, Cenicafe, where she studied the genetic variability of the coffee berry borer in Colombia. In 2010, she started her PhD studies at Penn State partially sponsored by a Fulbright scholarship. Flor has been captivated by research in the field of insect-plant interactions. She is interested in understanding how insects evolve the ability to feed on plants and its influence on insect diversification. Further avenues that she would like to explore are related to the evolution of neuroethological adaptations mediating host finding in plant feeding insects.

Adam Dale is a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University, advised by Dr. Steve Frank. He grew up in North Carolina and received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from North Carolina State. Prior to graduate school, he worked as a lab technician, where he developed an interest in entomology and landscape pest management. Now as a student, Adam researches urban ecology and the effects of urban habitats on arthropod pests and their host plants. His primary goals are to uncover mechanisms behind pest outbreaks and develop Integrated Pest Management strategies to reduce their environmental impacts and economic costs.


Anjel Helms graduated with a BS in biology and a BA in biochemistry from Pepperdine University. After graduation, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in Jonathan Gershenzon’s lab at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany. While at the Max Planck Institute, she conducted molecular and chemical analyses for dirigent protein over-expressing lines of Norway spruce (Picea abies) and investigated their role in defense against the bark beetle Ips typographus. After this experience, Anjel knew she wanted to continue studying chemical ecology and decided to attend Penn State University for her graduate work. She recently completed her PhD in the Entomology Department at Penn State, where she was advised by Dr. John F. Tooker and Dr. Mark C. Mescher. Her dissertation research was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and examined whether plants can perceive and respond to insect pheromones. For this work, she has focused on how tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) plants perceive the pheromone of the specialist, gall-inducing fly (Eurosta solidaginis) and respond by enhancing their anti-herbivore defenses. After graduation, she plans to continue at Penn State University as a postdoctoral scholar studying below-ground interactions among plants, insects, and nematodes.

Brittany Peterson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Entomology and the Interdisciplinary Life Science Program at Purdue University working with Professor Michael Scharf. She holds both a BS (2008) in microbiology and an MS (2011) in biology from Western Illinois University. Her master’s work focused on symbiont-mediated virus vectoring potential in whiteflies. As a doctoral student, she is working to understand the physiological collaborations of Reticulitermes flavipes and its symbionts, specifically focusing on digestion and immunity. This includes an effort to characterize the gut metatranscriptome (termite host, protists, and bacteria) and identify important symbiont-derived enzymes in both healthy and pathogen-challenged termites.

Aside from her dissertation research, Brittany has also collaborated on several projects both at Purdue and in the broader entomology community. This includes a project characterizing the Japanese beetle microbiome and contributions to two insect genome projects.

In addition to being a researcher, Brittany is an advocate for the advancement of women in STEM fields and for science literacy. She is a member of the Association for Women in Science and a founding member of Purdue’s organization for graduate women in the College of Agriculture. She is also involved in community outreach activities in the greater Lafayette, Indiana, area. Mentoring is a passion of Brittany’s. She has served as a peer mentor for other graduate students in her program, along with mentoring undergraduate students in the laboratory setting. Upon completion of her degree, she plans to continue studying the intricacies of symbiotic evolution and how invertebrate-microbe interactions can be exploited in innovative, applied ways.

Loren Rivera Vega is a PhD candidate in entomology with a dual degree in international agriculture and development at Penn State University. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana (Zamorano) in Honduras in 2007. In 2011, she completed her master’s program at The Ohio State University, working on the comparative transcriptomics of North American and Asian ash (Fraxinus spp.) trees for identification of potential resistance to emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). She is currently advised by Dr. Gary W. Felton and studies the effect of host plants on the composition of saliva in the cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni) and its impact on plant defenses. She recently spent six months at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) studying the response of black mustard roots (Brassica nigra) to cabbage rootfly (Delia radicum) under the supervision of Dr. Nicole van Dam. She has published four first-author journal articles and collaborated on five others. She is also involved in teaching, and particularly enjoyed her experience with co-creating and co-teaching a tropical entomology graduate seminar. Her research interests focus on understanding the factors that affect plant defenses against insect herbivores, both above- and belowground, as well as the social impact of scientific advancement in developing countries.



This travel grant award is funded by USDA-NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program on Plant-Associated Insects and Nematodes. It was created to provide financial support to graduate students for new networking, presentation, and research opportunities at Entomology 2015.

Flor E. Acevedo is a PhD candidate at the Pennsylvania State University. Her dissertation research focuses on the study of the adaptive mechanisms used by polyphagous insects to exploit different host plants. She has been working in entomology for the past 10 years. For her undergraduate thesis research, she developed DNA molecular markers in the coffee berry borer to study the dispersion of this insect in field conditions. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2006 from Universidad de Caldas (Colombia), she joined the entomology team of the Colombian Center for Coffee Research, Cenicafe, where she studied the genetic variability of the coffee berry borer in Colombia. In 2010, she started her PhD studies at Penn State partially sponsored by a Fulbright scholarship. Flor has been captivated by research in the field of insect-plant interactions. She is interested in understanding how insects evolve the ability to feed on plants and its influence on insect diversification. Further avenues that she would like to explore are related to the evolution of neuroethological adaptations mediating host finding in plant-feeding insects.

Lina Bernaola was born in Lima, Peru. She attended the San Marcos National University, where she received her BS in biological sciences and a minor in molecular biology. Her professional experience, as well as her passion in the world of plants, began when she joined the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima to perform her undergraduate thesis. She conducted research on the characterization of the resistance to the late blight in potato. Based on this experience, Lina joined Louisiana State University (LSU) to pursue her MS in agronomy and crop sciences. During this time, she has had the opportunity to learn new molecular techniques and to learn how to survive graduate school. Her thesis research focused on utilization of molecular markers in assessing genetic diversity in smooth cordgrass and sugarcane. Currently, she is working on her PhD in the Department of Entomology at LSU with Dr. Michael Stout. Her research interests include plant-insect and plant-pathogen interactions. Her project involves investigations of the mechanistic basis of plant resistance against above-ground and below-ground organisms in rice. Primarily, she studies the effects of mycorrhizal fungi, a symbiotic soilborne organism, on rice resistance to insect herbivores. The ultimate goal of Lina’s research is to provide a better understanding of plant-insect-mycorrhizae interactions in rice pests of Louisiana, which will help to develop more effective pest management programs in rice. Her leadership roles within ESA include serving as student representative of the P-IE Governing Council and Student Affairs Committee of the Southeastern Branch-ESA (SEB-ESA). She is a member of the LSU Entomology Club, having served as president the past year, and she enjoys conducting educational outreach about insects to kids with the Entomology Club. In her free time, Lina enjoys travelling, watching movies, dancing merengue, photography, and good company.

Mehmet Ali Doke obtained his BS in molecular biology and genetics (2009) and his MS in biology from Middle East Technical University (2012) in Ankara, Turkey. As an undergraduate, he started working with honey bees as a model organism in Dr. Aykut Kence’s laboratory, where research was focused on population genetics, diversity, ecology, and behavior of honey bees. He was fascinated with this amazing super-organism, and to this day continues to conduct research on their biology.

As a part of COLOSS in its effort to unveil a common thread in the unprecedented colony losses in the early 2000s, Mehmet was part of a team that conducted the first honey bee colony losses survey in Turkey and published the results in Apidologie.

Mehmet’s MS thesis, “Analysis of Environmental Cues Causing the Seasonal Change in PGM (Phosphoglucomutase) Allozyme Frequencies in Honeybees (Apis mellifera),” focused on a metabolic enzyme in honey bees that was earlier shown, in Dr. Kence’s lab, to exhibit alternative forms with the change of seasons. He worked on determining the environmental cues that could explain the observed seasonal variation and its potential correlation with overwintering physiology.

In January 2013, he started the entomology PhD program at the Pennsylvania State University under supervision of Dr. Christina Grozinger, and his research in Dr. Grozinger’s lab focuses on overwintering behavior in honey bees and related genetic, physiological, behavioral, and ecological factors. Mehmet and his colleagues prepared a comprehensive review manuscript on honey bee overwintering and scientifically sound suggestions for beekeepers to improve overwintering success of their managed colonies; this article was recently published in Current Opinion in Insect Science.

Todd Johnson completed his BS in biology in 2009 at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. During his undergraduate years, he became interested in chemical ecology. Particularly, he was fascinated by the immense amount of chemical diversity generated by herbivores and the plants they feed upon. In 2010, he moved to the lab of Kenneth Raffa at the University of Wisconsin—Madison to lead the releases of biological control agents against the emerald ash borer in Wisconsin. Concurrently, he began his MS in 2011, studying how the introduced parasitoid Spathius agrili, as well as Spathius floridanus, a native congeneric, located the emerald ash borer. In the summer of 2013, Todd completed his MS in entomology, showing that both wasps used cues associated with ash trees to find the beetle. Further, biocontrol agents released in 2011 were recovered, suggesting that biological control of the emerald ash borer may be possible in Wisconsin. In the fall of 2013, Todd began a PhD in entomology with Dr. Lawrence Hanks at the University of Illinois Urbana—Champaign. His research has focused on identifying parasitoids and predators of cerambycids, specifically those that eavesdrop on cerambycid pheromones. Todd is broadly interested in how insects use and integrate information from their environments to make decisions. Additionally, he is interested in how physiology can modify the strength of responses by insects to external cues. After completing his doctorate, he wishes to continue in academia, using his research inform management of non-native insects or pests.

Alice Ruckert, originally from Italy and grew up in the beautiful countryside of Tuscany, where her parents had a small farm; there, she developed love and curiosity for insects. She graduated from both the University of Pisa and the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, where she earned a BS and MS in agricultural sciences with a minor in entomology. Alice’s interest for insects grew as she learned about sustainable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies. During her graduate education, she actively worked with an Italian research team studying how the use of external sounds can interfere with the “vibrational” communication of Hemiptera Auchenorrhyncha, which use this form of sexual behavior to complete mating. The goal of her research team’s work was to eventually develop a successful vibrational mating disruption strategy. After graduation, Alice spent almost one year at the New Zealand Institute for Pant and Food Research Center as an intern, conducting electroantennographic analysis on several Lepidoptera Tortricidae affecting vegetable and fruit fresh production in New Zealand, with the goal to find repulsive chemicals for these insect pests. She found an interesting position as a research assistant, suggested by ESA. Alice is currently finishing her doctoral degree in entomology at Utah State University, where she studies the combined effect of drought stress and the use of neonicotinoids on secondary outbreaks of spider mites in corn systems. Upon graduation, Alice hopes to continue to work in the IPM field, by developing, testing, and marketing new environmentally friendly control products, and to engage in more outreach, promoting insect appreciation and understanding of conservation needs.

Emmanuel Santa-Martinez grew up in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, and received his bachelor’s degree in general biology from the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao. As an undergraduate student, Emmanuel participated in several summer internships. He conducted research at the University of Colorado—Boulder, the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, and Case Western Reserve University. In 2012, he began graduate studies at the Department of Entomology in the University of Wisconsin—Madison, where he is pursuing a PhD in entomology under the supervision of Dr. Johanne Brunet. His research project involves examining the foraging behavior of honey bees, bumble bees, and leaf-cutting bees on alfalfa plants and quantifying their impact on selfing rate and potential for gene flow. He is studying how distinct bee species forage within and among plants and deposit pollen over successive flowers. Emmanuel’s research will help others understand how distinct pollinators mediate mating systems and impact the genetic structure of plant populations. Emmanuel is actively involved in outreach events where he teaches the community about pollinators,their importance and benefits, and ways to promote their conservation. Aside from research, Emmanuel likes going to the beach, gardening, movies, and hiking.

Katharine (Katie) A. Swoboda Bhattarai is a PhD candidate in the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University. She received her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, with an undergraduate thesis on the systematics of the scarab beetle tribe Valgini with Dr. Mary Liz Jameson and Dr. Brett Ratcliffe. Katie completed her MS degree at Utah State University, working with Dr. James Cane at the USDA-ARS Pollinating Insects Research Unit. She studied the pollination ecology of Utah sweetvetch, a native legume selected for rangeland restoration in the U.S. Intermountain West, and evaluated two native, cavity-nesting bee species for their potential use as managed pollinators of commercial Utah sweetvetch seed crops. Katie then assessed learning and memory in bumblebees and monarch butterflies as a research associate in Dr. Robert Gegear’s laboratory at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Katie currently works in the Small Fruit and Secialty Crop Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Laboratory led by Dr. Hannah Burrack at North Carolina State University. She studies the ecology of Drosophila suzukii in blackberry agroecosystems in western North Carolina, focusing on the effects of non-crop habitat on D. suzukii infestation in crop fields, the seasonal and diurnal activity patterns of D. suzukii, and the susceptibility of ripe and ripening caneberries to infestation. Her dissertation research was designed with two goals in mind: 1) to help growers better manage risk associated with D. suzukii in the short term, and 2) to help develop an ntegrated management program for D. suzukii in the long term. Ultimately, Katie would like to combine her experience working with managed pollinators and IPM to help growers both produce and protect their crops.

Patrick Selig grew up in rural Indiana in a small town called Huntington. Ever since he can remember, he was interested in the sciences—particularly biology. He was often found outside collecting bugs or in the kitchen conducting “experiments.” He attended Indiana University—Purdue University in Fort Wayne, where he received his bachelor’s degree in biology. After graduation he worked as the greenhouse manager in the Department of Biology, which captured his interest in plants and their cultivation. During this time he also conducted independent research on soybean plant defense responses against soybean aphid and aphid-transmitted virus in the laboratory of Dr. Punya Nachappa. These experiences led him to pursue his master’s in biology, focusing on plant-insect interactions under the supervision of Dr. Vamsi Nalam and Dr. Punya Nachappa. Patrick was awarded a graduate research fellowship to support his MS education. His MS thesis is focused on engineering a plant host defense regulatory gene, Phytoalexin Deficient 4 (PAD4). Overexpression of this gene has been shown to provide protection against a wide range of pathogens and insect pests. The goal of his project is to develop stable soybean transgenic plants that over?express PAD4 with enhanced resistance against the soybean aphids and potentially other soybean pests such as nematodes. Upon graduation, Patrick plans to pursue his PhD with a focus on plant-insect interaction.

Suresh Varsani is currently a PhD student in the Department of Entomology at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, working under the guidance of Dr. Joe Louis. He completed his MTech in biotechnology from Padmashree Dr. D. Y. Patil University, Navi Mumbai, India in 2012. His master’s thesis research was, “Study of Metacaspases Expressions and Cloning of hpRNAi for Silencing of Ubiquitously Expressed Metacaspase in Solanum Tuberosum.” After graduation he worked as a junior research fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Research, Gandhinagar, in a project funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

Suresh’s current research in Dr. Louis’ lab focuses on maize-corn leaf aphid interactions. Specifically, his research examines the underlying basis of molecular, biochemical, and physiological mechanisms that mediate maize defenses against the corn leaf aphid. He hopes that the outcomes from his research will contribute significantly to advance our knowledge of plant resistance to insects and plant-insect interactions.

Wenqing Zhou is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University, working under the guidance of Dr. Gregory Sword. Wenqing’s research interests include plant-herbivore-microbe ecological interactions and their mechanistic explanations. She received her BS in crop protection from Northwest A&F University in China in 2007, and earned her MS in zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2010, studying the molecular phylogenetic reclassification of the parasitoid family Eulophidae (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea). Her current dissertation project focuses on exploring interactions between endophytic fungi and plant parasitic nematodes/insect herbivores in cotton, along with their potential use as tools in Integrated Pest Management (IPM). While working with nematologists Dr. James Starr and Dr. Terry Wheeler, she has gained broader experience in interdisciplinary study conduct, in both lab and field experiments. Beginning with a project on endophyte-associated plant-nematode interactions belowground, she expanded her study to aboveground insect-plant-endophyte interactions. The main goals of her research are to 1) discover potential fungal endophytes as novel pest control agents against insects and nematodes, 2) explore plant-endophyte-nematode interactions in agroecosystems, and 3) explain the mechanisms underlying endophyte-mediated plant-fungus defensive mutualisms. She is currently writing her dissertation and developing a mechanistic model to interpret how fungal endophytes influence phytohormone profiling and mediate plant resistance against root-knot nematodes.

The Entomological Society of America is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has nearly 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, and hobbyists. For more information, visit