Featured entomology graduate student Dan Gibson

Learn more about Dan Gibson's research with natural enemies, why he chose Michigan State University for graduate school and what inspired him to study entomology.

Name: Dan Gibson

Hometown: Urbandale, Iowa

Previous education: Bachelor of Arts in Biology and History, Luther College         

Major professor: Doug Landis

What are you researching? My project is screening several dozen native perennial wildflowers for their usefulness as floral resource plants for natural enemies (predators and parasites) of crop pests. The end goal is to use the most attractive flowers for insectary plantings around crop fields to support natural enemy populations.

Future career plans: I intend to pursue a career in ecological restoration, preferably with a regional land conservancy.

Why study entomology? You can study anything! Insects have an impact everywhere, from basic ecology to agriculture to molecular biology, so entomologists can be found working in many different subfields. If there is a field you are interested in, you can probably approach it by studying insects.

What or who inspired your interest in entomology? I first tuned into the six-legged world when I started insect hunting the summer before I took entomology as an undergrad. Going out with a net and a killing jar opened my eyes to the spectacular and colorful diversity I had never noticed earlier. That course was taught by Kirk Larsen, an MSU Entomology alumnus, who showed me that entomology was fun and could lead me down any number of paths I chose to follow.

Why did you choose MSU for graduate school? I was attracted initially by my particular research project, which integrated entomology, conservation and outreach into a single project. Add to that a respected department and a great advisor and the deal was sealed.

What is your favorite way to spend your time outside of your studies? When not thinking about work, I can often be found in a kayak or in the woods quietly enjoying all the life around me. If I’m home, I’m probably building something. Projects currently in progress include a bicycle trailer (for the kayak) and a Settlers of Catan board.

Listen to Dan discussing natural enemies with Kim Eierman of EcoBeneficial! for her podcast.

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