Featured Entomology graduate student Nicole Wonderlin

Nicole Wonderlin loves research, teaching STEM…and carpenter bees. Read on to learn more about our featured Entomology graduate student, her teaching assistantship and why we should learn more about insects.

July 13, 2018 - Author: Mallory Marienfeld

Nicole Wonderlin

Nicole Wonderlin loves research, teaching STEM…and carpenter bees. Read on to learn more about our featured Entomology graduate student, her teaching assistantship and why we should learn more about insects.

Name: Nicole Wonderlin

Hometown: Mahomet, IL

Previous education: B.S. Integrative Biology, University of Illinois

Major professor: Peter White

What are you researching? I am studying how moths contribute to pollination networks in urban environments.

Future career plans: For now, I am focused on finishing up my PhD and continuing on to a post-doctoral position after graduation. I do know that I love research and I love teaching!

Tell us a little about your teaching experiences. My teaching assistantship is through Lyman Briggs College (LBC). LBC heavily emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and diverse representation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, which is very important to me. Also, I love working with students who have a genuine interest in science and are motivated to learn as much as possible during their time at MSU. As a naturally shy person, standing up in front of a group of students each week has definitely forced me out of my comfort zone and taught me how deal with stage fright!

Why study entomology? There are more than a million species of insects, and they make up about 40 percent of all known species on earth. Insects can be found in the snow, desert, underground, under water. Basically, they’re extremely abundant and all around us, so why not get to know them?

What or who inspired your interest in entomology? I have always loved animals and conservation. Studying insects, especially pollinators, has allowed me to bridge these two interests. Pollinators are an abundant group of animals and they are the center of a myriad of conservation efforts. My summer roughing it in Missouri prairies, studying native bees with Dr. Alexandra Harmon-Threatt at University of Illinois solidified my interest in pursuing pollinator research.

What is your favorite activity or responsibility as part of your graduate studies? I have found volunteering with the MSU Bug House so rewarding. I love seeing visitors both young and old conquering their fears of cockroaches and spiders while learning about the fascinating world of insects.

What is your favorite thing about MSU? Seeing students, faculty and staff join together during this past year to take a stand against sexual violence on college campuses has been so inspiring. I look forward to the next few years seeing how MSU as a community comes together to make our school a place for students to thrive.

What is your favorite insect? I have always loved carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.). They come in so many unique colors and patterns and their body size makes them easy to spot even from a distance. I especially love the Eastern carpenter bee because its hairs make it look like it’s wearing a little yellow vest.

What is your favorite way to spend your time outside of your studies? When I’m not working on research, I like to spend time outdoors, travel, read and spend time with friends and family.

Read about our past featured students.

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