ORLANDO—The month of September has been good for the Department of Entomology as six students received awards during the International Congress of Entomology (ICE) meeting in Orlando.
Held every four years, ICE allows entomologists worldwide to collaborate and communicate their ideas and to make important connections with entomologists and scientists and compete in global presentation competitions.
This year’s meeting featured keynotes from Nobel Prize recipients Drs. Peter Agre and Jules Hoffmann and featured various plenary speakers each day throughout the duration of the conference. In addition, several of our grad and undergrad students were featured in the conference’s poster and student presentation sessions.
In the “Entomology Around the World” undergraduate category, Shelby Kilpatrick won first place for her presentation titled “An updated checklist of the bees of the Commonwealth of Dominica (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila)” while Ryan Selking received second place for his presentation titled “A comparison of spider family diversity on vegetation between primary rainforest and secondary rainforest.”
In the Graduate Student Oral Competition, Pierre Lau received first place for his talk in the “Ecology and Population Dynamics” category for “Palynological analysis of pollen collected by honey bees (Apis mellifera) in developed areas in four regions of the United States.”
In the “Urban Entomology in a Changing Environment: Ants” category, MacKenzie Kjeldgaard received first place for her talk titled “I’ll have what she’s having: Next-Generation insights into the diets of invasive ants” while Alex Payne received First Place in the “Undergraduate Student Oral Competition-Frontiers In Entomology” for her presentation titled “The effects of honey bee (Apis mellifera) queen insemination volume on colony growth.”
“There were so many amazing presentations throughout the conference,” Lau said. “I was overjoyed to find out that I was able to represent my school by winning the Ecology and Population Dynamics: Pollination section. I am grateful for all of the support everyone has provided me.”
Assistant Professor of Apiculture Dr. Juliana Rangel was very proud of Lau on receiving the award.
“Pierre’s presentation was incredibly well received,” she said. “He had a lot of comments and questions afterwards and he looked very comfortable and knowledgeable of the material that was presented. He’s a really great presenter and I am really proud of him!”
Payne was very excited and proud to have received such high honors for her presentation.
“Even though I was extremely nervous before giving my talk, I wanted to proudly represent my lab and A&M to my global audience and show that I am a part of a university that puts a strong emphasis on undergraduate research and success,” Payne said. “It feels rewarding to have one first place for my talk as it means that all the time I spent conducting my research and preparing my presentation paid off in the end!”
Rangel was very impressed by Payne’s professionalism during the presentation.
“Alex has shown to be very professional and I am very proud of her accomplishment,” Rangel said.
Kilpatrick enjoyed the time she had and thanked all that supported her research endeavors throughout her college career.
“I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to attend ESA/ICE this year. The Congress was an amazing experience and it was a privilege to represent Texas A&M University during the event,” Kilpatrick said. “I learned a lot as well as made memories and connections that will make a difference in my future. I was also thrilled to be recognized for my research at the end of the week alongside several of my friends and colleagues.”
Selking also received third place in the Triplehorn insect pinning challenge, which is a timed tournament to see who is the fastest in mounting and pinning insect specimens. He said that it was great getting the chance to present his research and networking with other colleagues worldwide, as well as participating in the competitions.
“This was my first time ever attending an entomology conference, and considering that it was the largest gathering of entomologists in history, it was a lot to take in. I realized the importance of going to these conferences, to keep up to date with who is researching what and what progress they have made, and it is also a great place to network,” he said. “Networking at these conferences not only opens up possible schooling or career options, but it is also a great place to find collaborators for graduate student projects as I did.”
Kjeldgaard said the conference was a great networking and learning opportunity and was excited about winning first place for her talk.
“I am very happy,” she said. “I also got to meet a lot of fantastic scientists and attend a number of interesting talks. It was a massive conference, but I enjoyed every minute of it.”