2024 North Central Branch Elections Results

Congratulations to the members of the Entomological Society of America's North Central Branch Branch recently elected to volunteer positions beginning in March 2024. The electronic ballot period for members began on January 8 and was completed on February 7.


North Central Branch President-Elect

Kirk Larsen 
Luther College 

Bio: Kirk Larsen is Professor of Biology and Chair of the Department of Biology at Luther College, a liberal arts undergraduate institution in Decorah, Iowa. He obtained his B.S. in Biology from Calvin University, M.S. in Entomology from Michigan State, and Ph.D. in Entomology from Ohio State. Coauthor of 43 peer-reviewed publications, his research involves students and focuses on how land management affects insect biodiversity in native northeast Iowa ecosystems. To date, he has had 23 students enter graduate programs in entomology, had 45 students present posters or talks at national or branch ESA mtgs, with 10 of those students placing in student competitions. In 2012 the NCB presented him the Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching.:  

Past ESA activity or other volunteer service: As a member of the ESA since graduate school, Kirk has peer-reviewed articles for the Annals of the ESA, Environmental Entomology, and the Journal of Economic Entomology,  and has been a student competition judge at ESA meetings. He served on the ESA Undergraduate Scholarships Committee from 2003-2006, and was co-chair of the PIE “Exciting Undergraduates in Entomology” task force from 2009-2010, initiating the undergraduate competition category at ESA annual meetings. At the 2015 national meeting he co-moderated a member symposium on partnering with small liberal arts colleges. He has been local arrangements chair for the Dragonfly Society of America mtg in 2004, the Prairie Invertebrates Conference in 2001 and 2007, the Iowa Prairie Conference in 2013, and bumble bee and native bee ID workshops in 2018 and 2022. 

Candidate statement: After 35 years of membership in the ESA, I am honored and humbled to be nominated to serve as President-Elect of the North Central Branch.  One of my goals would be expanding our membership to the many entomologists like myself at small colleges and universities scattered throughout the NCB.  Many are not currently part of ESA, but these teaching entomologists can provide us with potential graduate students and future entomologists.  The new ESA pilot section focused on formal and informal teaching should be particularly attractive.  Incorporating these new folks into our current strong NCB membership can broaden our impact and increase our diversity.  I hope we can develop a vision of sharing our passion for insects, their importance in agriculture and impacts on society, with an understanding of the necessity of conserving insects for a healthy planet.   


North Central Branch Member-at-Large

Punya Nachappa
Colorado State University 

Bio: Punya Nachappa earned a BS degree in Agriculture from the University of Agricultural Sciences in India, followed by an MS in entomology from the University of Georgia, and a PhD in entomology from Kansas State University. Post-PhD, she conducted post-doctoral research at K-State and Texas A & M University. Currently, an Associate professor at CSU in Agricultural Biology, her research focus is on unraveling the molecular and ecological mechanisms underlining plant-virus-insect vector interactions for effective pest and disease management. Leading a vibrant research group comprising 2 post-docs, 3 PhD students,3 MS students and numerous undergraduates, her work is funded by USDA NIFA-AFRI, SCRI, FFAR, and commodity groups.

Past ESA activity or other volunteer service: Punya Nachappa, joined ESA in 2003 as an MS student, demonstrates consistent involvement, with a history of delivering oral and poster presentations as a student, post-doc and faculty member. Notably, she organized two symposiums at annual ESA meetings in 2015 and 2023, and a symposium proposal under review for the NCB-ESA meeting in 2024. Additionally, she plays a role in the local arrangement committee for the NCB-ESA meeting in Fort Collins, CO. In her capacity as a faculty advisor, she provides funding and support for her students to join ESA and facilitates their attendance at meetings to present their research. Her students and post-doc actively participate in the Professional Advancement Career Training (PACT) Initiative. Lastly, she contributes as a judge for student ten-minute paper presentations and as a moderator for symposiums. 

Candidate statement: In my two-decade membership with ESA, meaningful service has eluded me due to personal and professional commitments. Recognizing that there will never be "the right time", I am eager to contribute now. The member-at-large position offers an ideal entry point to understand the Executive Committee to explore further service opportunities or to continue my service to the committee. My vision for this role is to champion, advocate, and empower the NCB-ESA membership, tackling challenges within the entomology community. As a woman of color from a foreign background, I aim to elevate the involvement and inclusivity of women and historically underrepresented groups, striving to enhance the field of entomology.  


North Central Branch Early Career Professional Committee Chair-Elect

Hannah E. Quellhorst 
Kansas State University

Bio: Dr. Hannah Quellhorst is originally from Lebanon, IN, and completed her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Entomology at Purdue University. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Entomology at Kansas State University co-advised by Drs. Rob Morrison (USDA-ARS) and Kun-Yan Zhu (KSU). Her research focused on improving invasive species in postharvest integrated pest management of maize. Her research interests include global food security, women empowerment, invasive species IPM, and insect behavior. She recently started as a postdoctoral researcher at Kansas State, working on a multi-institutional project to identify important semiochemicals for management of red sunflower weevil. Her ultimate aim is to develop a pheromone lure for use in behaviorally-based management for this pest plaguing growers in the Midwest. Ultimately, she hopes to apply her skills to fight world hunger. 

Past ESA activity or other volunteer service: Dr. Quellhorst has maintained a high level of productivity and involvement with ESA and home institution, including publishing 14 peer-reviewed papers as a student and giving more than 65 presentations at ESA annual and branch meetings. She has organized/moderated 8 symposia since 2019, and served as debate judge. She served on two NCB local arrangements committees, the NCB Executive committee, and the Student Activity Award Selection Committee. In 2021, she served as the NCB-SAC Chair, as well as a two-year term on the national SAC, and now as an ESA Science Policy Fellow. She has also served at multiple leadership roles at KSU. She served on the Grad Student Council Student Affairs Committee, Ent. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and Academic Affairs Committee. Dr. Quellhorst has a long history of serving and organizing in her professional and local communities. 

Candidate statement: I have been advocating for others and representing my peers for the past 10 years at multiple levels across two institutions. My vision includes two main goals (1) engaging and promoting an inclusive cohort. More than ever, it is important to include and highlight people of color, women, LGBTQIA folks, and others in actively moving the science of our discipline forward. More than this, it is important to include more non-traditional entomology careers, making our society more diverse as well as retaining ECP members. Lastly (2) I have always wanted to make the highly successful and inspiring Women and Allies Breakfast a regular event at the NCB annual meeting. To achieve this, I plan to leverage contacts and sponsors to bring this to our branch at little or no extra cost to the branch. I look forward to helping lead our discipline into a bright future where everyone’s skills are valued.  


North Central Branch Student Affairs Committee Chair-Elect

Tristan A. Barley
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Bio: Tristan is a current Ph.D. student in Dr. Adam Dolezal’s lab in the department of entomology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He received his bachelor's degree in environmental science and biology from Manchester University, and he completed his master’s degree in environmental science at Miami University. 

Because his graduate research focuses on bee ecology and conservation, Tristan is interested in science policy to advocate for meaningful conservation habitat implementation and management. Additionally, he is interested in science communication to promote insect conservation efforts. 

As a graduate student at the University of Illinois, he has won two awards in student competitions at ESA annual meetings in 2022 and 2023, as well as being admitted into the Science Policy Fellows Program.:  

Past ESA activity or other volunteer service: Tristan has been an active participant in ESA during his time as a Ph.D. student. In 2022, he co-organized a symposium at ESA’s national meeting titled “Inspiring Insect Biodiversity Conservation through Incorporation of Vital Habitat in Infrastructure”, which brought together researchers to discuss the viability of pairing conservation habitat with renewable energy, rights-of-way, and vacant lots. In 2023, he co-organized another ESA symposium titled “To Bee or Not to Bee: Practical Realities of Pairing Pollinator Habitat with Solar Development”, bringing together speakers from academia, industry, conservation groups, and government agencies to present and engage with the audience through a panel discussion. This year, he was accepted into ESA’s Science Policy Fellows Program and will be advocating for entomological funding on behalf of ESA. 

Candidate statement: I have engaged with ESA through participating in student competitions at annual meetings, co-organizing symposia to promote valuable discussions on research and policy, and in joining the Science Policy Fellows Program to advocate for entomological research and funding. While these experiences have been valuable and diverse, I hope to build on them by advocating for student members within the society. It is vital not only that student voices are heard, but that they are given opportunities to engage with more than just research presented at annual meetings. Student participation within ESA should include the chance to learn about, and participate in, policy advocation to help drive the future of entomological research. I aim to work with the Student Affairs Committee to promote engagement among student members with ESA’s policy initiatives and advocacy. 



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