President's Corner: The Evolving ESA Membership and Careers Outside of Academia

Bob Peterson, Ph.D.

Bob Peterson, Ph.D.

August 14, 2019

From its beginning, ESA has been structured primarily for academics and other researchers. We publish scientific journals and we hold an Annual Meeting and Branch Meetings traditionally and fairly narrowly devoted to reporting results of entomological research. That model has served us well, and I would argue it has to remain at the very core of what we do because, without new entomological knowledge in the form of research, there wouldn’t be much point to the professional scientific society that is ESA.

But, both our membership and careers in science are undergoing significant change, and we must be prepared for the changes we are already seeing. Recent studies show that those who have earned Ph.D.s either already outnumber Ph.D.s in academia or they will soon. Indeed, more biology Ph.D.s already have careers outside of academia than in academia. In addition, more and more professionals with Ph.D.s are choosing careers that are not directly involved in research. We must remain a professional home for trained entomologists pursuing important careers beyond the track we have traditionally served. 

Consequently, your ESA recognizes these changes and is adapting. Fortunately, your ESA staff does a great job tracking member statistics, and many of you have spoken up in recent years about the need for ESA to have programs tailored to careers outside of academia and research. We hear you, and your ESA leadership community will be addressing your needs in the very near future. At the June 2019 meeting of the ESA Governing Board, we authorized an initial study of the needs of entomologists pursuing these career paths and how the Society can help prepare and support them. And, for those of you like me who are primarily involved in entomological research and education in academia, these new efforts will not be at the expense of what we do, but rather they will be additive to what ESA does. Addressing the needs of our evolving membership’s diverse career needs will be of benefit to all. 

Advocate Entomology!

Robert K. D. Peterson, Ph.D.
President, Entomological Society of America
Professor of Entomology, Montana State University

Read past editions of President's Corner.