After 62 years of teaching in various places including 26 years in the Entomology Department, Don Messersmith has finally pulled back from formal instruction. With his final course at JHU's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute wrapping up early due to the pandemic. Barbara Johnson, President Maryland Ornithological Society, authors a beautiful article that celebrates his many decades as an educator.
UMD’s Entomology Games team—known as the Checkerspots—earned second place in the eastern regional competition. With their win, the Checkerspots advanced to the national competition, which will be held at the Entomological Society of America’s (ESA) national meeting in Denver in November.
See CMNS article to learn more about the team and their preparations for the national games.
Join Dr. Sara Via, Professor & Climate Extension Specialist for the 2021 Climate and Sustainability Webinar Series beginning at 4 p.m. on June 23. Learn about the impacts of climate change and what you can do to help every other Wednesday in this summer-long series ending Sept. 15. Learn more and register for one or all of the webinars at https://climatecorner.org/webinars/
The Department of Entomology is a participant of the Green Office Program and is working towards Bronze certification. The GO Representative is Amy Yaich.
Check out our Spring 2021 Department of Entomology Newsletter to see what we've been up to! Content includes news on publications, awards, defenses, media mentions and much more.
Is there something you'd like to see in the Summer 20201 edition? Let us know by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
Congratulations to Associate Professor Dennis vanEngelsdorp for being named Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate's Web of Science for the 5th year in a row!
See Clarivate's list here>>
Congratulations to Distinguished University Professor Margaret Palmer recipient of the Helmholtz International Fellowship Award for Excellent Researchers. These fellowships are "aimed at outstanding senior scientists who have distinguished themselves through their work in areas relevant to Helmholtz. The prize is awarded in recognition of the scientific merits and is endowed with a total of 20,000 euros." She was recognized for "cutting edge work in hydrology and ecology" and "pioneer work at the interface of science and society." Once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted, Margaret will be spending time at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany with the option to collaborate with scientists at other Helmholtz centers.
PREDATION OR SCAVENGING? GRUNER LAB COLLABORATES ON A NOVEL METHOD OF MEASURING INTERACTIONS BETWEEN INVASIVE RATS & BIRDS
On the Hawaiian Islands invasive black rats are eating native and introduced birds. The long-term ecological impact of the rats' taste for island birds will depend on whether or not the rats are preying upon birds or scavenging their dead remains, a species interaction that can be difficult to verify through observation alone. So scientist from Smithsonian’s Center for Conservation Genomics and the Gruner Lab (grad student Madhvi Venkatraman, former postdoc Erin E Wilson Rankin and Associate Prof. Daniel S. Gruner) set out to find another way to measure these hard to see interactions. They worked out a method of using bacterial biomarkers in the rat's stomach and feces to tell whether the birds consumed were alive or dead. Their paper entitled, “Identification of novel bacterial biomarkers to detect bird scavenging by invasive rats”, was published earlier this year in Ecology and Evolution, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.7171.
by Taís Ribeiro and Max Ferlauto
Climate change is having a drastic effect on species across the globe, our own included (Pachauri et al 2014). We have not only witnessed increases in mean temperatures but also extreme weather events like heat waves (Pachauri et al 2014). Although there are many studies looking at the impacts of climate change on particular species, research on the effects of climate change on species interactions is still limited. An important type of species relationship is a host-parasitoid interaction such as what occurs between an insect and its parasitoid wasp. Parasitoid wasps are tiny insects that lay their eggs in other insects. The eggs then hatch and consume the host while it is still alive. There are thousands of parasitoid wasp species. In fact, their order, Hymenoptera, may be the most diverse animal order in the world because of their high degree of specialization with their hosts (Forbes et al., 2018). In order to parasitize eggs, larvae, or pupae, parasitoids must align their life cycle with that of their hosts. But what happens when climate change increases temperatures and extreme climatic events? Does this misalign the host and parasitoid life cycles?
This spring Maggie Hartman, M.S. student in the Lamp Lab, entered the Campus-Level Three-Minute Thesis competition and won! Maggie says distilling her thesis, ‘Dragons on the farm: A novel approach to determining dragonfly diet in agroecosystems', into a 3-minute video for a public audience was an interesting challenge.
Choose "read more" to find out more about Maggie’s initial interest in the competition, her approached to the task, her initial “shock” to have won and what’s next for her and her competitors.
Dr. Bretton Kent, Principal Lecturer in the Department of Entomology will be retiring this semester.
Dr. Kent has a long and impressive history with UMD. Dr. Kent received his B.S. degree in 1973 from Oregon State University, a M.S. degree in Zoology from Oregon State, and his Ph.D. in 1981 from University of Maryland, College Park. The focus of his education was Zoology, a field he has continued to pursue throughout his career. After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Kent worked as a Research Affiliate here at the University of Maryland, while simultaneously initiating his role as Instructor. Initially appointed in the Department of Zoology, Dr. Kent was recruited to the Entomology Department in 1997, where he was appointed as Instructor and Director of Undergraduate Studies. In addition, since 2005, Dr. Kent has been actively involved in the Master of Chemical & Life Science Program, serving as Associate Director and Director of this online Masters Program.
Choose "Read More" to find out more about Dr. Kent's exceptional career.
written by: Huiyu Sheng and Arielle Arsenault-Benoit
Maggie Lewis, a PhD student in the Hamby Lab, aims to advance sustainable management of spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii, SWD). Spotted-wing drosophila is a pest of soft skinned fruits such as raspberries and blackberries that is specifically adapted to infest ripe fruit prior to harvest, unlike other fruit flies that often lay their eggs in overripe or rotting fruit. Spotted Wing Drosophila presents a considerable threat to the small fruits industry because the management options are limited and the consumer tolerance threshold to larvae in fruit is very low. Lewis’s dissertation work aims to inform and improve traditional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approaches for SWD through a better understanding of the fly’s relationships with yeasts, synergism with fruit rot fungi, and optimization of traditional management practices.
In recognition of Dr. Bill Lamp's extraordinary dedication to Honors education at the University of Maryland he has been named recipient of the Honors College's highest award, the Winston Family Honors Faculty Award. For nearly two decades Bill has directed the Department of Entomology’s Honors program, which has graduated 30 students 17 of whom were mentees of his lab. In addition to his directing role Bill also instructs stand out courses like HONR208D, “Insect Biodiversity: The Good, theBad and the Weird,” in the University Honors Program. Please join us in congratulating Bill on this well deserved recognition!
& if you get a chance spread the word on social media: facebook, twitter
Varroa mites are a major threat to honeybee health in the US. Chemical applications have proved effective at controlling varroa mite populations in honey bee colonies, however, only to a point. The mites are developing resistance to these chemicals. Collaborative study between University of Valencia and UMD Entomology Bee Lab researchers, Grad Student Krisztina Christmon & Associate Professor Dennis vanEngelsdorp, demonstrate mutations related to tau-fluvalinate resistance in Varroa destructor are widely distributed in the US. Their research reveals an urgent need for pest management strategies based on treatment resistance. Knowing the frequency of resistant mites, the authors argue, would help beekeepers choose the right treatment for their colonies.
Written by: Maria Cramer and Veronica Yurchak
In academia it’s fairly common to become an expert in a tiny slice of science. Researchers often become incredibly familiar with the particular system or organism they study and may not have too many reasons to branch out. That is not the pattern that Dr. Raul Villanueva, from the University of Kentucky, followed, however. Dr. Villanueva, the field crops entomologist for Kentucky, attributes his diversity of study areas to working in agricultural extension. In order to help support and educate Kentucky farmers he ends up working on whatever insect problems they are facing. And what’s more, Kentucky is a state of diverse agricultural production, ranging from grain crops like wheat, corn, and soybeans, to hemp for CBD production, sweet sorghum for molasses, and many horticultural crops like fruits and vegetables. Over the course of the seminar talk that he presented to the University of Maryland Entomology Department, Dr. Villanueva took the audience on a journey through his extension research program.
Congrats team Checkerspots - Maggie Lewis, Taís Ribeiro, Maria Cramer, and Kristin Jayd- for scoring 2nd place in the entomology Games at the Entomological Society of America's Eastern Branch meeting! This fall University of Maryland Checkerspots are headed to Denver, where they will compete at the national level. Go Checkerspots!!!!!
Assessing patterns of genetic diversity and structure of foundation species helps researchers better understand population dynamics in order to establish effective conservation strategies. Postdoc Magdalene Ngeve, Neel Lab, collaborated on an extensive study on the mangrove species Rhizophora mucronata in the Western Indian Ocean. Findings of that study were published in Scientific Reports earlier this month: “Expansion of the mangrove species Rhizophora mucronata in the Western Indian Ocean launched contrasting genetic patterns.” The authors hope their findings will, one day, be integrated with other regional genetic data to further understand the connectivity of mangroves at a global scale.
written by: Angela Saenz and Eva Perry
On February 12th (2021), Dr. Zoe Getman-Pickering, who obtained her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2020 and is currently a postdoctoral scientist working at George Washington University with John Lill, spoke in the Entomology Colloquium series about her research related to the tri-trophic interactions between plants, herbivorous insects, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (referred to as mycorrhizal fungi, or mycorrhizae, hereafter). She described her work on the relationship between plants and mycorrhizal fungi, and the biotic and abiotic factors influencing this relationship.
Measuring and comparing biodiversity is challenging because rare species are often undetected. So, what can researchers do to address these sampling issues in biodiversity measurement? Michael Roswell, Postdoc in Espindola Lab, and colleagues have a new paper out in Oikos that recommends using two tools in tandem -coverage and Hill diversity.
Join us in congratulating Michael on this recent pub entitled, “A conceptual guide to measuring species diversity,” "Editor's Choice" of the March issue in Oikos, and now one of the most downloaded Oikos articles from the past 2 years.
Hamby Lab has a new paper out in Insects that describes the current use of cultural controls in the management of the invasive spotted-wing drosophila (SWD), a small insect that causes big problems for fruit crops. Paper entitled, “Cultural Control of Drosophila suzukii in Small Fruit—Current and Pending Tactics in the U.S.”
In this paper first authors, Torsten Schöneberg (Postdoc) and Margaret Lewis (PhD student), explain cultural controls as a pest management technique that modifies production practices and the crop environment to reduce pest populations and damage. By reporting on the approaches and effectiveness of various cultural controls for SWD management, from pruning to irrigation methods, the authors hope to further encourage fruit growers to adopt these techniques as an alternative to pesticide use.
Please share with your networks: twitter, facebook
Rethinking teaching biology to be gender neutral through careful wording of course-specific material concerning gender identity, disability, and Race
Written by: Mike Nan
Dr. Karen Hales is a Biology Professor at Davidson College who employs genetic tools with the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) model to understand the molecular mechanisms of mitochondria function in cells. While past colloquium speakers have presented on the latest research in their lab, Dr. Hales addressed an even more pressing, teaching topic: Enhancing inclusivity in undergraduate science courses through careful wording of course-specific material concerning gender identity, disability, and race.