COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Three people from the Department of Entomology received the highest honors the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences gives out annually during its annual Awards Ceremony on September 29.
Drs. Juliana Rangel and Adrienne Brundage, and senior Shelby Kilpatrick won three awards for their hard work and dedication with the Department and College.
Rangel was honored with the Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Early Career Research for her work during the first few years since she joining the Department.
Since Rangel joined the faculty as Assistant Professor of Apiculture in 2013, she has been able to acquire approximately $1 million in extramural support and funding for her research program, focusing on providing solutions to unexplained colony decline, or colony collapse disorder, with a study on the effects of agricultural pesticides on honey bee fertility, a grant to identify floral sources foraged by honey bees in four different locations in the U.S., and a grant to create and lead the Texas A&M University’s Tech Transfer Team.
In collaboration with the Texas Beekeepers Association, Rangel also wrote a successful grant to help raise awareness of the benefits of “Real Texas Honey.” Along with the above major grants, she forged several significant collaborations with faculty and national and internationally to research honey bee queen and drone reproduction, ecological genetics of feral Africanized honey bees, and integrated pest management techniques for control of Varroa destructor mites in Texas apiaries.
She also has served on numerous departmental committees, including the Faculty Advisory, Capital Gains, and Graduate Student Recruitment committees and coached the undergraduate and graduate Linnaean teams. Since coaching the teams, one graduate and one undergraduate team placed first and second place in regional competitions and advanced to the national competition that was held in Orlando this September.
As part of her service role for the Texas beekeeping industry, Rangel writes a column for every issue of the Texas Beekeepers Association Journal and she speaks at several state and national beekeepers association meetings throughout the year. In conjunction with the Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS) she helped start the Texas Master Beekeepers Program and she serves on the Board of Directors.
“Her enthusiasm is infectious and in the end she is exposing as many people as possible to the science of apiculture and the joys of beekeeping,” Entomology Department Head Dr. David Ragsdale said in the nomination letter.
Shelby Kilpatrick also received the Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award in Undergraduate Research. Since her academic career, Kilpatrick has been active student in the Department’s Honors Program research projects, including studying horse and deer fly trap effectiveness in College Station, sodium regulation and homeostasis in the grasshopper Schistocerca Americana, and collecting, rearing and studying the lacewing species Abachrysa eureka.
Her most notable research project was when she traveled to Dominica in 2015 for her individual project. In Dominica, she conducted a survey of pollinator biodiversity that focused on a subset of pollinators that are abundant on the island. With her project, Kilpatrick collaborated with Drs. James Woolley and Jason Gibbs, where she collected a total of 77 specimens representing 13 bee species in the Apidae and Halictidae from 12 sites on the island.
After returning from Dominica, Kilpatrick studied the procured specimens and found three species that were new records, as well as four that were very new to science, in which one species was named in her honor. She then presented her research and received first place at the 64th annual Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society meeting and at the Ecological Integration Symposium, and was a top finalist for the Division of Student Affairs Award during Student Research Week in April.
“Shelby’s professionalism, her approach to science, her clear and concise description of her project and the results were spectacular,” Ragsdale said. “She is an amazing public speaker.”
Kilpatrick also serves a leadership role in the Department of Entomology Scholars Society, the undergraduate Entomology Student Organization, Texas A&M Collegiate 4-H Club and a supervisory team member at the TAMU Insect Collection.
“Shelby is committed to the success of her projects and strives to ensure that a level of excellence is met in each one she undertakes,” Ragsdale said.
The Dean’s Award for Early Career Teaching was awarded to Dr. Adrienne Brundage. Since fall 2013, Brundage has been teaching in the Department as a full time lecturer. She currently teaches the Veterinary Entomology (ENTO 208), Medical Entomology (ENTO 423), undergraduate seminar, and Intro to Forensic Sciences (FIVS 205), teaching several hundred students each semester.
Brundage’s philosophy is to make the subject matter engaging, interesting, and impactful for her students.
“She is an exceptionally gifted teacher,” Ragsdale said. “She cuts through the extraneous information, and presents new and complex knowledge to students in such a way that it not only sticks, but impacts their lives. She does this through innovative and exciting teaching methods, coupled with an attentive, caring, and enthusiastic demeanor. Adrienne holds her students to a very high standard, and is confident that when they leave the university they will understand and expand their chosen field into new and unexplored areas.”
Brundage is very active in several outreach programs, including teaching high school students during the Youth Outreach Program, various children’s groups and schools in the Brazos Valley in both entomology and forensics. Most recently, Brundage was asked by the Texas State Anthropological Facility to train college students and police officers on using insects in forensic science. In addition to outreach, she also advises the First Responders Training Unit, the Order of Aggie Illusionists, and the Aggie Forensic Sciences Organization.
“Dr. Brundage embodies the spirit of what a junior professor at a land grant university should be – an exceptionally accomplished teacher who is making an impact in student’s lives and in her science,” Ragsdale said.
In addition to the awards, several faculty members were recognized for being new and for promotion and tenure. Drs. Zach Adelman and Kevin Myles were recognized as new faculty while Dr. Hojun Song was recognized for receiving promotion and tenure.