Ph.D. Student Receives Top Award For Research at Beltwide Cotton Conference

Carrie Deans with her award. Deans received the award after participating in the oral presentation competition at the Beltwide Cotton Conference in New Orleans this January. Submitted photo.

Carrie Deans with her award. Deans received the award after participating in the oral presentation competition at the Beltwide Cotton Conference in New Orleans this January. Submitted photo.

NEW ORLEANS – Ph.D. Student Carrie Deans has some great news to celebrate in 2014 as she received first place for her research at the 2014 Beltwide Cotton Conference.

Deans received the Best PhD Student Oral Presentation Prize in the Insect Control section for her talk titled “Macronutrient preference and effect on performance in Lygus hesperus (Hemiptera: Miridae).” The competition was held during the conference in New Orleans on January 6-7.

Deans was among several other students nationwide that gave talks on various subjects on cotton insects during the competition, which is held to support excellence in cotton entomology. Her research investigates the nutritional habits of the western tarnished plant bug, which is becoming a major problem in many parts of the Cotton Belt, she said.

Deans is investigating whether or not the insect is regulating protein and carbohydrates when feeding on cotton or other plants. She said that she is looking at whether the insects are just randomly feeding on plants or if they are selecting their diets based on macronutrient content.

She said that her research could eventually find out how nutrition affects susceptibility to pesticides. This then could help to optimize cotton producers’ pest control methods, she said.

Deans’ co-advisor Dr. Gregory Sword was very proud of her and said her research could be important in cotton production and result in better pest management decisions.

“The diet of an insect influences almost every aspect of its life. We know quite a bit about the plants that insects eat. However, insects don’t forage for plant species, but rather specific nutrients,” Sword said. “Carrie’s research is showing how plants vary as nutritional resources for insects, and how this variation can influence everything from their basic growth and reproduction to their ability to deal with transgenic plants.”

Deans is co-advised by Dr. Gregory Sword and Dr. Spencer Behmer. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Environmental Studies in 2005 from the University of St. Thomas and her Master of Science in 2011 in Ecology and Natural Resources from St. Cloud State University.

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