Penn State scholars earn awards from the Entomological Foundation

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Postdoctoral scholars and graduate students in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences will receive four of 16 awards announced recently by the Entomological Foundation for 2012.

The awards will be presented at the 60th annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America in Knoxville, Tenn., Nov. 11-14.

-- Kerry Mauck, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Entomology, will receive the Henry and Sylvia Richardson Research Grant. The grant provides research funds to postdoctoral members of the society who have at least one year of promising work experience, are undertaking research in selected areas and have demonstrated a high level of scholarship.

As a Penn State graduate student, Mauck studied the chemical ecology of virus infections in plant hosts and the importance of virus-induced changes in attraction of aphid vectors. Her current research examines changes in mammalian host odors in response to infection by malaria, and how these changes influence interactions between hosts and mosquito vectors. The research is aimed at better understanding how host-produced attractants influence pathogen acquisition.

-- Elina Lastro Nino, postdoctoral scholar in entomology, will receive the ICINN Student Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, Toxicology and Molecular Biology. Sponsored by the International Congress on Insect Neurochemistry and Neurophysiology, this award recognizes and encourages innovative research in the areas of insect physiology, biochemistry, toxicology and molecular biology in the broad sense.

Nino received her doctorate in entomology from Penn State in 2012. Her dissertation research involved behavioral, physiological and molecular characterization of factors affecting honey bee queen post-mating changes and queen-worker interactions. She also studied factors that alter queen pheromone profiles and how this regulates worker behavior and physiology. During her postdoctoral appointment, she will continue this research and also will examine socioeconomic factors affecting the establishment of U.S. honey bee breeding and stock-improvement programs.

-- Ian Grettenberger, doctoral candidate in entomology, will receive the Kenneth and Barbara Starks Plant Resistance to Insects Graduate Student Research Award. This grant is awarded to a graduate student in entomology or plant breeding/genetics for innovative research that contributes significantly to knowledge of plant resistance to insects.

A goal of Grettenberger's research is to imitate in agro-ecosystems the patterns and processes found in natural systems to improve management of pest insects. Because modern crop fields are planted primarily with single varieties of a single crop, he is examining how increasing in-field diversity through crop variety mixtures affects herbivorous insects and their natural enemies.

-- Seung Ho Chung, a doctoral candidate in entomology, will receive the Stan Beck Fellowship. This award assists needy graduate or undergraduate students in entomology and related disciplines at a college or university in the United States, Mexico or Canada.

Chung is studying plant-insect interactions using tomato plants and Colorado potato beetles as a model system. His research focuses on deciphering the mechanisms by which the beetles manipulate induced defenses of tomato plants. He is investigating the effect of oral secretion, which is introduced by the beetle onto leaves, on plant defensive responses.

The Entomological Foundation is a nonprofit organization with representatives from the public and private sectors including academic institutions, government, and business and industry. Its mission is to "build a future for entomology by educating young people about science through insects."

Last Updated January 09, 2015