AUSTIN—It looks like the spring semester 2017 is going well for the Department as several students, staff and faculty members received awards during the 2017 Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society of America meeting in Austin from April 11-17.
Ph.D. students Carl Hjelmen and Adrian Fisher were co-recipients for first place in the Ph.D. Oral Presentation category. Hjelmen was recognized for his presentation titled “What is underreplication and how does this phenomenon contribute to the enigma of genome size evolution in Drosophila?” Fisher was awarded for his presentation titled “The negative effects of in-hive pesticides on honey bee (Apis mellifera) drone spermatozoa viability.”
Ph.D. student Chloë Hawkings also received third place in the category for her presentation titled “The influence of brood on transcriptional variation in the worker brain of the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta).”
“Carl has worked hard to analyze genome size data in an original and meaningful way. It is to his credit that he can communicate what he has discovered to a broad audience,” Hjelmen’s mentor Dr. Spencer Johnston said. “I am really pleased to see his communication skills and his interesting results recognized with a first place award for his Ph. D. presentation at the Southwestern ESA branch meetings.”
Hawkings’ mentor Dr. Cecilia Tamborindeguy was excited about her receiving the award and praised her hard work and dedication working on her project.
“Chloë did a great job with her presentation and was very prepared,” said Hawkings’ mentor Dr. Cecilia Tamborindeguy. “I am very proud of her.”
Ph.D. student Luke Pruter received first place in the Ph.D Poster competition for his poster titled “Corn Hybrid and Bt transgene Performance in Yield and Protection from Pre-harvest Losses Caused by Lepidopteran Feeding” while Masters student Charluz Rosario received third place for her poster titled “Screening of novel antigens for the control of Boophilus microplus through artificial feeding.”
Extension Agent-IPM John David Gonzales won second place in the Masters presenation category for his talk titled “Evaluating insecticide efficacy and residual activity for control of the sugarcane aphid Melanaphis sacchari (Zehntner).”
In the Undergraduate Oral Presentation category, senior Shelby Kilpatrick received second place for her talk titled “Density-dependent phenotypic plasticity in Schistocerca lineata Scudder, 1899 (Orthoptera: Acrididae).
Kilpatrick also received two special awards during the meeting, including the Percival Scientific Undergraduate Entomology Student Activity Award and the Undergraduate Student Achievement in Entomology Award.
The awards were presented in honor of Kilpatrick’s outstanding achievements during her undergraduate career in her research and outreach programs. Kilpatrick was most noted in her research studies in 2015 as she discovered a new species of halictid bee during a summer study abroad program in Dominica. Her discovery was a separate study that was featured in a paper written by Dr. Jason Gibbs of Michigan State University, as well as the species being named in her honor.
Kilpatrick also has been active in the Undergraduate Entomology Student Organization, the Collegiate 4-H Club, and the Horticulture Club while at A&M. She served as the organization’s Outreach Coordinator in 2015-2016, where she was responsible for coordinating volunteers for various outreach programs, such as Aggieland Saturday, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ annual Tailgate, and the Department’s 4-H and FFA Insect Identification clinic.
As a member of the 4-H club, she coordinated and led 8 club promotional events and volunteered at Texas 4-H Teen Retreat, Texas 4-H Roundup events, and the Beefmasters Programs. As a member of the Horticulture Club, Kilpatrick has helped plan and implement the Fall Pecan Sale, Pecan Tree Repotting, and the Spring Plant Fair.
“I am very honored to have been recognized by the Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society of America (SWB-ESA) for each of these awards. It has been a privilege to serve the SWB-ESA during my undergraduate career,” Kilpatrick said. “Attending branch meetings has also allowed me to enhance my knowledge and experiences that will contribute to my graduate studies and eventually, my career within entomology.”
Chong Chin Heo received the ESA’s John Henry Comstock Award. Heo is a former lab member in Dr. Jeffery Tomberlin’s lab. His research project was titled was titled “Sensitivity of Arthropod and Microbial Communities Associated with Vertebrate Carrion in Response to Delayed Blow Fly Access: Implication for Carrion Ecology and Forensic Entomology”. His research was in collaboration with Dr. Tawni Crippen – USDA – ARS and Dr. Jacqueline Ann Aitkenhead-Peterson from the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas A&M University.
The Comstock Award recognizes the accomplishments in research, service, and public engagement of one graduate student in each branch. The award helps support funding for travel to attend the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America, which will be in Denver in November.
“I was really excited to see Chin receive such a great award. He was an exceptional student, and I am sure he will be an exceptional faculty member at his institution,” Heo’s former mentor Dr. Jeff Tomberlin said. “Chin has become a close friend and colleague. My hope is we continue to collaborate over the course of our careers.”
Heo graduated with his Ph.D. in August 2016 and is currently working in Malaysia.
Professor and Extension Specialist, and Associate Department Head for Extension Programs Dr. Charles Allen also was recognized during the ceremony as the Southwestern Branch nominee for the ESA’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension. He was nominated for his excellent work as the Associate Department Head for Extension Programs, and as the previous integrated pest management program coordinator. The award will be given out at the national meeting in November.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Arbovirus (Arthropod Borne Virus) Team received the Southern Region IPM’s special Friends of IPM Award during the ceremony. The team includes Dr. Sonja Swiger, Dr. Mike Merchant, Dr. Holly Jarvis Whitaker, Steve Byrns, Diane Bowen, Bill Watson, Wizzie Brown, and Molly Keck and Robin Williams.
The team was awarded the special recognition for their work on developing, distributing, and providing educational materials to help protect Texans from the West Nile and Zika Virus outbreaks that have occurred from 2012 to 2016.
The Undergraduate Linnaean Team also fared very well during the branch Linnaean Games, where they received second place after defeating the graduate team in the finals. The team consisted of undergraduate students Shelby Kilpatrick, Bret Nash, Sam Shook, Dayvion Adams and Jeffrey Barbosa.
The team will be advancing to the national Linnaean Games in November at the ESA’s annual meeting in early November.
“I am incredibly proud of these students, as they outcompeted even our graduate team in double elimination rounds,” Linnaean Team coach Dr. Juliana Rangel said. “I can’t wait to help them practice for the national games.”
Kilpatrick was excited about getting the opportunity to travel to Denver to compete in the national Linnaean Games.
“I am very proud of my team and how we all contributed to winning 2nd Place at the SWB-ESA Meeting as well as the opportunity to advance to the national games in Denver, Colorado this November,” she said.
In the Southwestern Branch’s Photo Salon, Dr. Forrest Mitchell won Best Traditional Macro and Arthropods in Action while Abdul Hakeem won
Microphotography and Pierre Lau won for Artistic and Best Overall.