Graduate Students Receive Awards at Campuswide Research Events

Milo with plant

Milo Lewis checking one of his potato plants for psyllids. Photo by Rob Williams

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Three graduate students from the Department of Entomology recently received honors for their research during two student research events.

Master’s student Milo Lewis and Ph.D. student James Tracy placed in the University’s annual Student Research Week competition for oral papers and posters at the competition in the MSC while Ph. D. student Warren Sconiers received an award during the Ecological Integration Symposium in late March.

Lewis received second place in the graduate section in the Plant subject at Student Research Week for his oral presentation titled “Degree day requirements for the development of Bactericera cockerelli (Hemiptera: Triozidae) from South Texas”.

James-Tracy-poster

James Tracy standing beside his poster he displayed at Student Research Week. Photo by Rob Williams.

In his research, Lewis is developing a degree-day model for the tomato/potato psyllid based on constant temperature studies, a linear model, and a non-linear model in order to create a tool which will allow growers to predict within field peaks of the psyllid. This tool will help producers reduce and better time insecticide applications around the predicted peaks of the pest. Lewis is pursuing a Master of Science in Entomology and is co-advised by Dr. Kevin Heinz and Dr. Jerry Michels.

In addition to Lewis’ award, Tracy received second place in the graduate student poster session in the Biology category for his poster titled “Projecting dispersal of subtropical tamarisk beetles into habitat of the endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher.”

His research looks at how the tamarisk beetles’ defoliating tamarisk trees in the Trans Pecos  are spreading towards Arizona where they can reduce nesting habits of the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, a federally endangered species of bird.

Tracy is pursuing a Ph.D. in Entomology and is currently being co-advised by Dr. Robert Coulson and Dr. Allen Knutson.

Warren Sconiers. Photo by Rob Williams.

Warren Sconiers. Photo by Rob Williams.

In addition to Student Research Week, Sconiers received first place at EIS for his presentation titled “Stressed plants and herbivores: Exploring the mechanisms of drought’s impact on plant – insect interactions.”

Sconiers’ research examines the effects of water stress on plant and insect herbivore communities in both natural and agricultural systems.

He is testing the pulsed stress hypothesis which predicts that insects perform better on plants that undergo pulsed stress. Sconiers’ work also included conducting a meta-analysis of the studies that have examined the effects of water stress on plant resistance.

Sconiers is currently being mentored by Dr. Micky Eubanks.

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