Graduate Student Linnaean Team Receives Second Place at Branch Meeting, Bid To National Competition

Members of the graduate Linnaean Team pose for their awards picture. from left,

Members of the graduate Linnaean Team pose for their awards picture. Pictured is SWBESA member Jesus Esquivel, team members Lauren Harrell, Suhas Vyavhare, James Tracy, coach Juliana Rangel, Lauren Ward, and Adrian Fisher. Also pictured is Dr. Phil Mulder, far right. Photo by Mark Muegge.

SAN ANTONIO—This is the second time the graduate Linnaean Team is going to nationals to compete in the Linnaean Games at the National Entomological Society of America meeting in November.

The team, consisting of James Tracy, Adrian Fisher, Lauren Ward, Kate Harrell and Suhas Vyavhare, defeated both University of Texas – Tyler and the Texas A&M undergraduate teams during the final competition of the Linnaean Games during the Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society Meeting in San Antonio this February.

The undergraduate Linnaean Team. From left to right: Andrew Ly, Shelby Kilpatrick, coach Juliana Rangel, Alex Martinez, Bryant McDowell, and Catherine Collins. Photo by Mark Muegge.

The undergraduate Linnaean Team. From left to right: Andrew Ly, Shelby Kilpatrick, coach Juliana Rangel, Alex Martinez, Bryant McDowell, and Catherine Collins. Photo by Mark Muegge. Pictured with the team is Phil Mulder, far right.

The Linnaean Games are a fast-paced question-and-answer, college bowl type competition on entomological facts that are played between the university-sponsored student teams. The four-player teams score points by correctly answering questions, according to the Entomological Society of America’s website.

Linnaean coach Dr. Juliana Rangel said the students were very well-prepared and that they did quite well, despite being defeated by Oklahoma State in the final round.

The undergrad and graduate Linnaean Teams practicing outside the hotel. Photo by Juliana Rangel

The undergrad and graduate Linnaean Teams practicing outside the hotel. Photo by Juliana Rangel

“This was my first experience as coach of Texas A&M’s Linnaean Teams, and I think both our groups did a terrific job in preparing for the games,” Rangel said. “We had some tough competition with a very entomology-savvy graduate team from Oklahoma State University, but our students did a fantastic job, with our graduate team placing second and thus qualifying for the national Linnaean Games in November.”

The Saltcedar Biological Control Team standing with their award. Pictured from left to right is Jesus Esquivel, Allen Knutson, Erin Jones, Mark Muegge and Jerry Michels. Standing with them is Dr. Jim VanKirk, director of the Southern Region IPM Center. Photo by Mark Muegge.

The Saltcedar Biological Control Team standing with their award. Pictured from left to right is Jesus Esquivel, Allen Knutson, Erin Jones, Mark Muegge and Jerry Michels. Standing with them is Dr. Jim VanKirk, director of the Southern Region IPM Center. Photo by Mark Muegge.

Rangel was also impressed by the undergraduate team, which consisted of Bryant McDowell, Catherine Collins, Shelby Kilpatrick, Andrew Ly and Alex Martinez performed this year. She is confident they will do well at next year’s competition in Tulsa.

“I think they did a great job for being in competition with graduate teams in San Antonio,” she said.  “Although they did not qualify to represent TAMU at the national games, I am very certain that this team will improve for next year’s Southwestern Branch meeting. “

Rangel was excited to see both teams do well and is looking forward to the graduate team going to Portland to compete in the national games.

“All these students did a terrific job in representing our department.  I am very proud of them,” she said. “I am looking forward to the national Linnaean Games in Portland in November. I am certain that traveling with the group will be fun and exciting, and I look forward to exchanging ideas and experiences with these students at the national meeting.”

Graduate team member Suhas Vyavhare was also looking forward to going to Portland and was hopeful that the team will do well in November.

“We are very excited to go there and represent TAMU at nationals,” he said. “I am sure the team would do great over there as well.”

Other awards presented included Ph.D. candidate Cassie Schoenthal received first place in the Ph.D. Oral Presentation category for her talk titled “Monitoring and management of Culicoides spp. in Texas white-tailed deer production facilities” in the oral presentation part of the Student Competition and the Saltcedar Biological Control Team received the Friends of the Southern Region IPM’s Pulling Together Award.

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