Jocelyn Holt Receives 2019 Comstock Award

Jocelyn Holt. Photo by Rob Williams.

Congratulations to Ph.D. candidate Jocelyn R. Holt as she was named the Southwestern Branch recipient of the John Henry Comstock Award during the 2019 Branch meeting in April.

Advised by Dr. Raul F. Medina, Holt is examining the interplay between population genetics and insect mutualisms in invasive species. In her research, she is also assessing the role that insect microbiota plays in mediating mutualisms among insects.

Holt’s research has revealed microbial differences between sugarcane aphids (SCAs) that seem to correspond to genetic differences between sorghum and sugarcane SCA populations. She is currently investigating whether genetically distinct sugarcane aphid populations differ in their attractiveness to ants and is examining fine-scale genetic structure of the tawny crazy ant to inform future integrated pest management.

Holt was born in California where she developed a passion for entomology. While working as a research assistant in the Entomology Department at the University of California Riverside, she studied at Cal Poly Pomona, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Botany. She then received her Master of Science in Biology at California State University-Northridge.

Holt received a Graduate Diversity Excellence Fellowship and a Lechner Excellence fellowship at Texas A&M.  She is currently a Ph.D. candidate who has served in leadership roles at both the University and in the Entomological Society of America. Holt is committed to increasing diversity in academia and facilitating the retention of women in STEM fields. She is involved in the ESA’s Student Affairs Committee (SAC) as the Student Representative for the Southwestern Branch and as the SAC Chair for ESA’s Annual Meeting. She is a founding member of Aggie Women in Entomology,  a participant and advocate of the LAUNCH Program and the Texas A&M University Women in Science and Engineering, or TAMU WISE.

“I was glad to learn that ESA granted Jocelyn the Comstock Award. I believe it is a well-deserved recognition for Jocelyn’s work in research, teaching and service.” Medina said. “Jocelyn has successfully balanced her research, teaching and service and she has managed to accomplish much within each of these categories.”

Holt was honored to receive the award at the Branch meeting and is looking forward to attending the Annual Meeting. In addition, she hopes her success will motivate the next generation of entomologists to be persistent and pursue a career that they love.

“I am very honored to receive the 2019 Comstock Award from the ESA Southwestern Branch. It is exciting to be recognized for my research accomplishments as well as my promotion of excellence and diversity in STEM through teaching and mentorship,” she said. “I am proud to represent Texas A&M and hope that my determination to pursue entomology inspires others to accomplish their dreams.”

The Comstock Award is given to one outstanding graduate student from each branch to promote interest in entomology and to stimulate interest in attending the ESA’s Annual meeting held this year in St. Louis. The award consists of an all-expenses paid trip to the meeting, as well as a certificate, and a cash prize.


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