Daniel K. Young, Ph.D., Awarded the 2024 Department of Entomology Distinguished Alumnus Award

Daniel K. Young, Ph.D. says even after 40 years at the University of Wisconsin, he "still bleeds green".

The MSU Department of Entomology is proud to announce the 2024 Distinguished Alumnus Award will go to Daniel K Young, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison. Young received his bachelor, master’s, and Ph.D. in Entomology from MSU. He has been on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin since 1982. Over the course of his 41-year career, Young has advanced the study of beetle biodiversity; directed the University of Wisconsin Insect Collection; led national and international scholarly societies; and perhaps most significantly taught foundational entomology courses to countless college students.

Young is an internationally recognized expert in beetle taxonomy and systematics. He has also provided extensive service and leadership to professional societies including the Entomological Society of America, the Coleopterists Society, and a diversity of state and regional associations. 

Although his record of service is extensive, Young’s true passion lies in teaching. Former students were very vocal in their support for Young’s nomination for this award.

MSU Entomology Chair Hannah Burrack reflected on her time learning from Young, “As an undergraduate student at UW Madison, I was just one of those who were inspired by Dan to dive deeper into entomology, and I can think of no one else more deserving of this recognition. His passion spurred wonder, excitement, and kickstarted many entomology and biology careers.”


Rachel Arango, Ph.D. of the USDA Forest Products Laboratory said about Young, “I clearly remember so many nights where a few of us students would be working downstairs in the teaching labs and Dr. Young would peak his head into the lab, late into the evenings, just to check if we needed help. He didn’t care how many extra hours he put in during the day, he just wanted to help students learn if they were willing to put in the work.” 

Arango went on to add, “I can also attest to Dr. Young’s support for diversity and equality in the workplace, particularly as an advocate for women. While doing my graduate research I was also working full time for the US Forest Service. During this time, I was experiencing continued harassment from my team leader. On a particularly bad day I confided some of what was happening to Dr. Young who really went out of his way to help resolve the problem.”

Anthony Cognato, Ph.D., MSU Department of Entomology, noted that, “Dr. Young received all his degrees in Entomology from the department under the guidance of Dr. Ronald Fischer. During this time, he was an avid collector and most of his specimens were deposited in The A.J. Cook Arthropod Research Collection. These specimens number in the 1000’s and represent diverse taxa from many Michigan and national localities. They represent an important portion of the collection holdings – it seems that every other specimen was collected by D.K. Young!” 

When asked to comment on the award, Young said, “Like Spock, my blood still runs green and I think frequently about my many years at MSU, trundling across the shores of the red Cedar, collecting beetles in Baker and Sanford Woodlots, and in the halls of the Nat. Sci. Building and the collection range. I am honored and humbled to be recognized in this manner by my precious Spartan alma mater.”

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