Students Win Top Awards at ESA Annual Meeting

Eight students from the Texas A&M Department of Entomology were awarded 1st or 2nd place in the 2020 Entomological Society of America’s annual national meeting student 10-minute paper competition for the Presidents Prize.

This year’s meeting was held virtually from November 11-25. During the competition, students presented their research in one of four sections: 1. Medical, Urban, Veterinary Entomology, 2. Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology, 3. Plant – Insect Ecology(P-IE), and 4. Systematics, Evolution and Biodiversity (SysEB).

“We are quite proud of all of our TAMU students who participated in the 2020 ESA meeting, including those presenting talks and posters, as well as those participating in the Entomology Games and the Student Debate,” Professor and Department Head Dr. Phillip Kaufman said.

Kaufman said that the Department did quite well participating, despite the changes in the meeting delivery format due to the pandemic.

“This is made even more impressive by the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in; having on-line talks, debates and games was especially challenging and I applaud our students showcasing what it really means to exhibit Aggie Excellence. The success of our students at the meeting demonstrates the excellence in all of our student research, the quality of our students, and support from their faculty mentors and peers.”

The awards were given to the following:

Graduate Student 10-Minute Paper Competition

Medical, Urban, Veterinary Entomology:

  • Casey Flint: Second Place – Forensic Entomology, Muscoid Flies
    “Who runs the (decomposition) world? Microbes influencing decomposition and attraction of the blow fly, Cochliomyia macellaria
  • Mackenzie Kjeldgaard: Second Place – Hymenoptera, Spiders
    “Polygyne ants are not cooperating: Colony boundaries and larval discrimination in multiple-queencolonies of the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)”

Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology:

  • Jordan Ellis: Second Place – Pollinators 1
    “Honey bee (Apis mellifera) workers experience accelerated age polyethism and premature death due to developmental stressors”

Plant – Insect Ecology:

  • Crystal Wright: First Place – Biocontrol 1
    “Characterization of honeydew sugar profiles in sugarcane aphids on sorghum and Johnson grass”
  • Erfan Vafaie: First Place – Biocontrol 2
    “Whitefly suppression by multiple natural enemies challenges with whitefly immigration or delayed natural enemy releases”
  • Jaclyn Martin: First Place – Vectors of Plant Disease
    “Revealing differences in the viral transmission mechanism between viruliferous and nonviruliferous Tagosodes orizicolus using transmission electron microscopy”

Systematics, Evolution, & Biodiversity:

  • Ashley Tessnow: First Place – Genomics
    “Patterns of divergence between fall armyworm strains: New insights from genomic and behavioral studies”

Undergraduate Student 10-Minute Paper Competition

  • Jordan Gomez: First Place – Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology – Pollinators
    “Determining the effects of nutrition on honey bee (Apis mellifera) pathogen defense against deformed wing virus”



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