Congratulations to Ph.D. students Tyler Raszick and Chloë Hawkings as they received this year’s Department of Outstanding Graduate Student Award during the Graduate Student Recognition Seminar on Thursday, February 15.
Raszick is advised by Dr. Gregory Sword. His dissertation research utilizes high-throughput DNA sequencing technology and cutting edge bioinformatics to address critical issues in cotton entomology including boll weevil eradication efforts and risk assessment for the evolution of resistance by mirids to a new generation of Bt transgenic crops.
He is active in the Entomology Graduate Student Organization, where he has served as the Treasurer and the Vice President of External Affairs. Raszick volunteered his time to staff the merchandise booth at all of the Entomological Society of America annual meetings and helped come up with the idea of the Mentorship in Entomology Symposium, in which he co-chaired.
Raszick has also been an active volunteer for the EGSO at several outreach events in the community and as a volunteer and graduate student panel member for all of the graduate student visits hosted by the Department. He also is a member of the Texas A&M University’s Graduate and Professional Student Student Council, where he currently serves as the Vice President of University Affairs.
In addition to EGSO, Raszick contributed to several annual Entomological Society of America meetings where he co-organized and moderated symposia for the 2014 and 2017 meetings and served as a student volunteer working in the presentation preview and virtual presentation rooms. He also selflessly contributed to the recent Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by helping to deliver supplies to affected communities south of Houston.
“Tyler truly embodies the Aggie Core Values of Leadership and Selfless Service,” Sword said. “He has contributed his talents to an impressive array of service and leadership roles in the Entomology Department, University and broader entomology community.”
“It feels pretty good to be recognized for my service,” Raszick said. “I’m thrilled to share the award with another deserving student who is also very involved!”
Advised by Dr. Cecilia Tamborindeguy, Hawkings’ research is centered around gene expression profiles in the red imported fire ant workers. She utilizes RNA sequencing data to analyze differential gene expression of workers performing different tasks, in different social conditions; and also she investigates the expression of vitellogenins in the workers, and the interplay of this transcript expression with juvenile hormone. Her research aims to gain an overall understanding of the molecular mechanisms at play in eusocial insect colonies. As of 2018, she has one paper accepted and another currently ‘in press’ in Ecology and Evolution.
Hawkings also was lead teaching assistant for 4 semesters and a laboratory instructor/TA for General Entomology. While serving as a TA, Hawkings was instrumental in updating and improving the syllabus content and created the first laboratory manual for the course.
In 2017, Hawkings was one of the founders of the Aggie Women in Entomology, an organization created to enhance the professional community of women in entomology. She currently serves as President of the organization, has hosted two seminar speakers for the Departmental seminar series. Also she founded the mentorship in entomology program where undergraduates could attend panels and workshops helpful for transitioning to graduate school.
Hawkings also has been the EGSO’s Events coordinator since 2016 and was the co-author of the COALS Council development grant that launched the Mentorship in Entomology Symposium, where she served as the committee chair. Some of the outreach events she has coordinated and lead include the Expand Your Horizons, North Bryan Community Center, and the Monarch conservation initiative through the city of College Station.
In 2016, she began the Fire Ant Research group, which aims to facilitate the collaborative efforts in fire ant research. She has received numerous awards including the 2018 Ethel Ashworth-Tsutsui Memorial award for Mentoring, second place in the President’s prize in research at the 2017 ESA annual meeting, second place at the graduate student forum, and the Department of Entomology’s Teaching Assistant of the Year award in 2017.
“I feel honored to receive this prestigious award,” Hawkings said.