Featured Entomology graduate student Bernice Bacon DeMarco
Interview with featured Entomology graduate student Bernice Bacon DeMarco
Name: Bernice Bacon DeMarco
Hometown: Lakewood, Ohio
Major Professor: Anthony Cognato
What are you researching? I am using DNA and morphology to elucidate the possible evolutionary history of the ant genus Aphaenogaster and to provide identification keys to species in this genus.
Future career plans: I would like to determine the relationships between currently described species worldwide and create a comprehensive key to identify them. I would also like to continue my involvement in the Bug House to promote children’s interest in insects.
What or who inspired your interest in entomology? I began college at Purdue University as a general biology major, with no specific career goal in mind. I always liked insects, and when nothing else fit my sophomore schedule, I took an introductory entomology course taught by Dr. RC Dobson. He was enthusiastic about the subject and gave me a number of suggestions about what I could do with a B.S. in entomology. By the end of that semester, I had changed majors.
What has been your best experience in entomology? I landed my dream job right out of college at the Smithsonian Institution. I was chosen out of 100 applicants because I was the only one with museum experience. After working there for six months, an opportunity came up to travel to the Amazon with Dr. Terry Erwin and two other curatorial assistants to Manaus. We were in the Amazon for six weeks fogging trees with pyrethrum in forested areas that were scheduled to be demolished. We collected in three very different habitats, and brought back 200,000 insects to be curated and added to the collection at the Smithsonian. The story doesn’t end there. After I started graduate school at MSU, Sarah Smith, a recent MSU entomology graduate, visited the Smithsonian to look at bark beetles in their Coleoptera collection. She discovered two new species of beetle from the material I had collected in the Amazon over 20 years ago, Camptocerus igniculus and coccoformus.