A love of fieldwork and learning led Kayleigh Hauri to pursue graduate degree in entomology

When Kayleigh Hauri realized how relevant entomology could be in everyday people’s lives, she decided to pursue it as a career path.

Kayleigh Hauri

Name: Kayleigh Hauri

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

Previous education: Undergraduate at Georgetown University

Major professor: Will Wetzel

What are you researching? The effect of plant chemical defense diversity on insect predator-prey interactions in tomato.

Why study entomology? Insects are great model systems that are relevant to so many questions about the world. I am particularly interested in agroecosystems, so understanding the factors that shape insect population dynamics and interactions are critical to understanding how to reduce pesticide use and herbivore pressure while increasing beneficial insect presence.

What or who inspired your interest in entomology? I started working with insects and arthropods as an undergraduate in Dr. Gina Wimp’s lab at Georgetown, where I studied the effect of disturbance on salt marsh arthropod food webs. I enjoyed doing fieldwork and I loved learning how different behaviors by particular arthropods could stabilize or destabilize the food web. After graduating, I worked at the USDA Agricultural Research Service station in Sidney, Montana, where I worked on a project investigating the interaction between wheat stem sawfly, a parasitoid wasp and drought; that was when I saw how relevant entomology could be to everyday people’s lives and decided I wanted to pursue it as a career path.

What is your favorite activity or responsibility as part of your graduate studies? I love planning and executing my summer field projects. It’s very satisfying to take a project from start to finish and get a chance to observe my study system outside in a more natural setting.

What is your favorite thing about MSU? There is such a wealth of resources at MSU, from physical resources like the Kellogg Biological Station to a great collection of professors and graduate students who can help answer questions and develop ideas.

What is your favorite insect? Podisus maculiventris, the spined soldier bug. This is the predator I use in my research. It’s so fun to watch it hunt!

What is your favorite way to spend your time outside of your studies? I love exploring Michigan by camping and hiking with my lab mates as well as going to trivia nights and playing board games.

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