The Fall 2018 semester was (another) busy semester! However, I want to start on a personal note. I’m a dually-enrolled PhD (Entomology) and Master of Public Health student, I feel like I have a never-ending to-do list. There are manuscripts to write, classes to take, presentations to prepare, student emails to respond to, grants to work on, and so much more. It’s easy to get caught up in all that and just work constantly. This semester, I made a conscious effort to not only make progress on my PhD and MPH, but also make some ‘me time’ to spend time with friends and do things that I enjoy.
What’s funny is that my academic pursuits are what led me to many of my closest friends. My friend Erin Powell is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. We met while we were completing our MS degrees at the University of Florida. This is the time when I also met Heather Erskine and Brittany Campbell. These are 3 of my greatest friends and I got to see them all during the fall! Erin was visiting for the US for ‘conference season’ and I made a trip to Washington D.C. to visit with Brittany and Heather. This personal time is so important no matter what your career path is and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to continue making that a priority.
So now on to the professional events of the semester! I took a couple of classes this semester for my MPH, but also got to teach a laboratory section of Principles of Entomology. This is an introductory course to entomology. I had almost 30 students, most of which were undergraduate students. Students in this class learn the major insect orders, basic insect morphology and biology, principles of integrated pest management, and more. One of the coolest parts of this class is the students have to collect insects and build a basic insect collection. Throughout the semester, their curation skills dramatically improve and they learn more about the insects and their biology as a result of the hands-on experience of collecting. The students also take a couple field trips. The first was to a boat dock so they could collect aquatic insects. The other was to the newly-finished bee lab at the University of Florida where the students get to learn about bees and bee-keeping. I was lucky to have a class that was eager to learn more about insects and I enjoyed getting to share my enthusiasm for entomology with them (while also improving my teaching skills).
In addition to teaching and taking classes, I attended 3 conferences and spoke in a graduate student symposium hosted by the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory. At this graduate student symposium, I presented a talk titled “Distribution and Insecticide Susceptibility Status of Florida Populations of Aedes aegypti (Linnaeus) and Aedes albopictus (Skuse).” At this symposium, I was among the four students that received an award for their presentation. Bethany McGregor, Kristin Sloyer, and Richard West also gave wonderful presentations and received awards.
I attended the Society for Vector Ecology meeting in Yosemite, CA, the Florida Mosquito Control Association meeting in St. Petersburg, FL, and Entomological Society of America meeting in Vancouver, Canada. At the FMCA meeting, I presented a talk titled “Assessing the Efficacy of Operational Mosquito Control Products through Field Trials.” I was also the recipient of Cyrus Lesser Memorial Scholarship.
At the SOVE annual meeting, I was asked to organize the annual student symposium. Nine students from various universities spoke on their research projects and also received a scholarship to pay for meeting expenses. Additionally, Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory students and postdocs were well represented at this meeting. At this meeting, I presented a talk titled “Fight the Bite: An Elementary Education Campaign to Combat Container Mosquitoes.”
SOVE is a unique society and at every meeting, the organizers reserve one day for a trip in the area. As the meeting was held in Yosemite, CA, we visited Yosemite National Park for the day and had the opportunity to explore.
At the ESA meeting was probably the most hectic for me. For the last year (2017-2018) I have served as the chair for the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) of ESA. This position means that I get to be part of the ESA Planning Committee and plan and organize student events for the meeting. The SAC is responsible for organizing the Student Debates for the meeting, hosting a webinar before the annual meeting, writing blog posts for Entomology Today, helping plan the student reception, and more.
This ESA meeting was also special because it was a joint meeting with the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC) and the Entomological Society of British Columbia (ESBC). Serving on the SAC is rewarding, but because this was a Joint Annual Meeting (JAM), I got to meet and get to know people that I may not have otherwise met. Each society had their own representatives so my student counterparts in ESC and ESBC were Joanna Konopka and Dan Peach (pictured below).
In addition to serving on the SAC, I gave two presentations at this meeting. The first was a 3-minutes student competition talk titled “Fight the Bite: An Elementary Education Campaign to Combat Container Mosquitoes” and the other was an invited talk titled “Collaborating with Vector Control to Improve our Understanding of Insecticide Resistance.” I am happy to report that I received 1st place in my student competition talk!
At the very end of this semester, I got to travel to San Pedro Sula, Honduras to host a mosquito ecology and control workshop with one of my committee members, Dr. Alto. This is something that I worked on preparing for most of the semester and then got to bring to life in December. I am working on a full post to elaborate on that experience, so stay tuned!
On (another) personal note, I will also say that I got engaged at the end of this year (yay!). The last 6 months have probably been some of my busiest, but what a rewarding 6 months it was. 2018 was wonderful and I am looking forward to 2019. Happy New Year!