Grad Students Receive AFRI Travel Grant for ESA Meeting in November

Carrie Deans. Submitted Photo

Carrie Deans. Submitted Photo

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Ph.D. students Freddy Ibanez and Carrie Deans will be able to travel to the national meeting of the Entomological Society Meeting this year thanks to a travel grant from the US Department of Agriculture.

Deans and Ibanez were two of 10 students that were selected to travel to the meeting that is scheduled to be held in Portland, Ore., on November 16-19.

According to the ESA’s website, the grant provides financial support to allow graduate students to travel to the annual meeting to allow them to experience such opportunities as networking and presenting to peers and colleagues. The grant is sponsored by the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, or AFRI.

Deans is co-advised by Dr. Gregory Sword and Dr. Spencer Behmer . Her research focuses on how nutrition impacts stress response in insects. Ibanez is advised by Dr. Cecilia Tamborindeguy.

A native of Jackson, Minnesota, Deans was first introduced to and worked with insects and entomology while she was an undergraduate at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. While at St. Thomas, she worked in the labs of Drs. Adam Kay and Kyle Zimmer. She was involved in projects focusing on the nutritional ecology of aquatic insects.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Environmental Studies at St. Thomas, she worked in the natural resources field. After serving with the Minnesota Conservation Corps and working at Willow River State Park in Wisconsin, she then pursued her Master of Science degree in Ecology and Natural Resources at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

During the time she was at St. Cloud State, she worked in Dr. Neal Voelz’s stream ecology lab on her research on the field of ecological stoichiometry. She said that ecological stoichiometry is a sub-field of nutritional ecology that focuses on the balance of elements in consumer-resource interactions. Deans then received her Master of Science in Ecology and Natural Resources before joining Texas A&M.

During her career, Deans received the C. Everette Salyer Fellowship in Cotton Research in 2011, the 2014-2015 Texas A&M University Dissertation Fellowship, and the Best Ph.D. Student Oral Presentation Prize in the Insect Control section during the Beltwide Cotton Conference in New Orleans in 2014.

Deans was excited and grateful to receive the grant and hopes that this will give her the opportunity to share her research with peers.

“I am very honored to receive this award, especially knowing the high caliber of research going on in the field of entomology right now,” she said. “The funds provided by this award will allow me to perform some analyses that will really improve my dissertation project and will hopefully produce data that will allow us to better understanding the nutritional impacts on stress and the environmental constraints on pesticide efficacy.”

Freddy Ibanez. Photo by Rob Williams.

Freddy Ibanez. Photo by Rob Williams.

Ibanez received his BS in biochemistry at the University of Santiago in 2006, where he served as secretary of the Biochemistry Undergraduate Student Organization. Freddy’s interest in insect biology started years ago when he was working as a research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. Veronica Cambiazzo at the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology in Chile

He joined Texas A&M University as a research assistant in the Department of Horticultural Sciences in 2010, then joined Dr. Tamborindeguy’s lab to learn and understand how the pathogen Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum and its vector Bactericera cockerelli will colonize potato and other solanaceous crops which results in a plant disease. In potato this is known as Zebra chip, which is associated with the dark bands produced when potato chips are processed.

In August, 2013, Freddy started to pursue a PhD degree in entomology in Dr. Tamborindeguy’s group, where he is dedicated to studying Bactericera cockerelli reproduction, determining the effects of Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum on insect fecundity, and identifying novel targets to control psyllid populations.

“I am honored to be chosen,” Ibanez said. “This is a great opportunity for me to network with all the great researchers in entomology.”


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