MSU entomologists share science, network and compete at annual Entomological Society meeting

MSU entomologists presented research, reconnected with alumni, met prospective students and faculty, competed in competitions and were honored at the 2018 Entomological Society of America annual meeting.

November 21, 2017 - Author: Joy Landis

Lunch gathering with aquatic entomologists.
Lunch gathering with aquatic entomologists.

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) held its annual meeting Nov. 5–8, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. The meeting is an opportunity to present research along with teaching and extension innovations, reconnect with alumni, meet prospective students and faculty, compete in competitions and honor outstanding entomologists. Here are some highlights from the 2017 meeting.

Our first debate team

Jim Smith coached a team of students willing to make the Department’s first effort in debating. Students Lidia Komondy, Joe Receveur, Courtney Larson and Nick Babcock gave a strong argument but lost to Purdue University and will have their position published in a future issue of the “American Entomologist.” The topic for the debate was: "What is the most urgent and feasible use for CRISPR/Cas9 in Entomology?" and the team’s position statement was "The most urgent and feasible use for CRISPR/Cas9 in Entomology is to combat tick-borne illness." The team says MSU Entomology will compete again in 2018.

MSU Debate Team

MSU 2017 debate team: (L-R) Larson, Receveur, Coach Smith, Komondy, Babcock.

Smitley honored by ESA for achievement in horticultural entomology

Dave Smitley was honored at the awards breakfast with the Society’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology. The award citation noted in particular Smitley’s work to introducing Entomophaga maimaiga, a natural fungal pathogen of gypsy moth into Michigan; his success introducing a pathogen of Japanese beetle, Ovavesicula popilliae, into Michigan; a collaboration with Arborjet Inc. developing the most widely used treatment to protect trees from emerald ash borer; and recent work with nursery and greenhouse growers to develop practices for producing high-quality plants that are safe for pollinators.

Dave Smitley receives award

Dave Smitley receives his award from ESA President Susan Weller.

Landis honored by IOBC during the regional section meeting

Doug Landis was awarded the Distinguished Scientist Award from the International Organization for Biological Control, Nearctic Regional Section (IOBC-NRS). One individual is recognized annually for the award. Nominees must have spent most of their career in the Nearctic, which encompasses the United States and Canada, and have made significant contributions to the area of biological control.

Doug Landis receives award

Jim Nichols presents the IOBC award to Doug Landis.

Student winners

Alumni will remember the pressure and excitement of competing at the ESA meeting. This year’s student winners are:

  • First place: Heather Leach (PhD, Isaacs), Graduate Ten Minute Paper Competition (Sunday), P‐IE: Invasive Species.
  • Second place: Adam Ingrao (PhD, Szendrei), Graduate Student Poster Competition (Monday), P‐IE: Chemical Ecology and Climate Change.
  • Second place: Danielle Kirkpatrick (PhD, Gut), Graduate Ten Minute Paper Competition (Monday), PI-E: Behavior.
  • Second place: Gabriela Quinlan (PhD, Isaacs), P‐IE: Honey Bees.
  • Second place: Gina Sari (MS, Cognato), SysEB: Coleoptera

Students at mixer Difonzo and Babcock at mixer

Mixing at the MSU-OSU mixer.


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