Make a Huge Study on a Tiny Subject: Entomology

ANDI CROWELL

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Photo by Stepfanie Lam

Tucked away beneath a canopy of trees on the southwest portion of campus, the Entomology department buzzes with activity.

About 40 undergraduate students at UF are currently majoring in Entomology, the study of insects. UF’s Entomology department, one of the largest in the nation, also includes around 140 graduate students and about 25 students minoring in Entomology. Like many of the more specialized departments at UF, the Entomology department fosters a strong sense of community.

“My favorite part is the close-knit nature of the department,” says sophomore Johnalyn Gordon. “Everyone is very friendly and everyone seems to know everyone. I feel that in Entomology, you are not just a face in the crowd.”

Many students first become involved in Entomology to fulfill general education requirements. Once within the Entomology program, students take a variety of different paths.

“I was first exposed to entomology by taking Bugs and People,” explains Gordon. “That class is what sparked my interest, especially the section dealing with Integrated Pest Management.” Gordon, a Wildlife Ecology and Conservation major, is minoring in Entomology. For Entomology majors, the department offers six major degree specializations, including pre-professional studies, basic sciences, biosecurity, urban pest management, plant protection, and ecotourism.

“It’s really customizable,” says Dr. Rebecca Baldwin, Undergraduate Coordinator for Entomology.

Students can also participate in the study abroad trips offered by the Entomology department. During the summer of 2015, students will visit Brazil to examine “urban, medical, and agricultural entomology.” The department organizes other trips as well.

“Every two years, we try to go to Greece,” says Dr. Baldwin. “[We study] medical entomology and experience agriculture.”

The Entomology department conducts specialized research spanning a wide range of areas. Gordon is researching treatments for bedbugs. Meanwhile, sophomore Megan Bernier works on multiple projects. One involves repellents for cockroaches, while her other project studies the traumatic brain injury of termites, ants, and fruit flies.

“[It is] a model for human injury,” explains Bernier.

In addition, internships and job opportunities abound for students with degrees in entomology. Regardless of the degree specialization a student chooses, coursework in entomology provides a thorough preparation for a wide range of professions and for graduate studies.

“[Students have] skills that can get you a job,” explains Dr. Baldwin.

In fact, most students have a job arranged before they graduate. Thus, the abundance of opportunity draws students to this major, though Dr. Baldwin also believes the diversity of students is one of the department’s main strengths.

“They all work so well together,” says Dr. Baldwin.

Students interested in further information about UF’s Entomology department can visit: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu.

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