Featured Entomology graduate student Roger Duncan Selby

Interview with featured Entomology graduate student Roger Duncan Selby


Name: Roger Duncan Selby, although I go by Duncan

City of Origin: Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Major Professors: Mark Whalon and Stuart Gage

What are you researching? The central theme of my thesis research is to enhance alternative controls of the plum curculio, a pest of many tree fruits. The term “alternative” is used because the methods I work with are designed to replace existing methods that are effective, but controversial enough that their use has recently been curtailed by federal regulation. My research has three aspects: developing automated camera traps that precisely monitor insect activity in field conditions; lab and field observation of plum curculio behavior to improve trap and control efficiency; and extending and improving weather-based models used to predict and control increases in plum curculio populations.

Future career plans: Many academic and industry careers are attractive to me.

Why study entomology and what do you wish people understood about entomology? In my experience, people stereotype entomologists as hunters of miniature fauna. We’re either running around with nets and kill jars looking for rare or beautiful specimens; or we’re seeking out a destructive and ugly foe to smother with our arsenal of chemicals. However, I entered entomology because insects offer a vast array of study possibilities. Their impact on our lives and planet is extensive; pollinators, pests and predators influence the plants we depend on for food, bloodsuckers plague us, butterflies entrance us, fruit flies help us understand how genes can work, and ants help us understand how societies works.

What is your opinion on entomophagy (eating insects) as practiced in other world cultures? I have tried insect cuisine before, and highly approve of the concept for ecological and economic reasons, as long as the bug is disease-free and cooked. I confess I’ve only tried food using larvae, where the defining flavor tends to be the added spice, and the cooked insect resembles a harmless beansprout. I would probably think twice before eating a cooked adult arthropod that had legs and wings attached. In that scenario, I probably would do something silly like detach all the legs to eat them separately.

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