The UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) has decided to provide travel funds to entomology undergraduates who want to present their research at entomological associations.
So EGSA has established the Jude Plummer Travel Grant, so named because Plummer, a pest control manager in Florida, donated $50 “to be used for such a cause,” said EGSA president Jenny Carlson, a Ph.D. candidate in the Vector Genetics Lab.
This week EGSA announced the first recipient of the Jude Plummer Travel Grant: Daren Harris, who received his bachelor of science degree in entomology from UC Davis in December.
Harris will receive a travel grant of $300 to present his poster on the spotted wing drosophila at the 2013 meeting of the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America, set April 6-11 at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nev.
Harris' poster is titled “Seasonal Trapping of Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in a Multi-Crop Setting.” He works as a lab assistant in the Frank Zalom lab, studying with professor Zalom and Ph.D candidate Kelly Hamby.
“We will be providing an opportunity for UC Davis undergraduates to apply twice a year for a total of $300, depending on funds,” Carlson said. “We will have one in the winter and one in the fall.” Those who want to support the project can donate to the EGSA fund or buy entomology t-shirts.
Harris, who minored in fungal biology and ecology, plans to pursue a master’s degree in forest entomology. “I would like to study insect-fungus interactions with a focus on inoculation of forest pests with entomophagous fungi,” he said. “Many of these pests are gregarious so capture, inoculation and release of a few individuals may disseminate the pathogen to a large population.”
“My ultimate goal is to work with the USDA forest service. I would love nothing more than to make my living tromping around in beautiful north American forests."
Harris said he initially wanted to be a taxidermist. “As a child I had bookshelves filled with biological oddities and ‘specimens,’ including dead animals in jars of formaldehyde. My collection included everything from pet rodents to road kill. A high school biology teacher turned me on to entomology and I was hooked. The capture and curation of insects satisfied that childhood collection impulse, with the added bonus of frolicking through fields with a net.”
This tiny spotted wing drosophila is what Daren Harris is studying. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)