Department of Entomology Newsletter | Spring 2020

Bug Bites

Message from Department Head, Sujaya Rao

Sujaya Rao


How our lives changed the last few months with the COVID-19 pandemic! Here, at UMN, spring break was extended by two days, during which we had to become 'experts' at teaching with ‘alternative modes of instruction’. Students and instructors rose to the occasion, adjusted to and embraced Zoom lectures and asynchronous teaching, and spring 2020 courses were successfully completed! We now await UMN plans for course delivery in Fall.

Spring 2020 was challenging but the Department of Entomology continued to grow and flourish. I am pleased to share with you here the many successes of our students, staff and faculty!

Happy Reading! Send us your thoughts and ideas on this format – we welcome your feedback!

Happy Summer!

Congratulations to our Graduates!

During the 2020 virtual commencement on May 16, our MS and PhD graduates were honored (click program below). Congratulations on successful completion of your programs! We wish you well in your future endeavors – wherever they may take you! 

Graduate Program 2020






Entomology Minor Spotlight

Class of 2020 students that graduated with the Entomology Minor reflected on their experiences:

Matthew Hobbs

Matthew Hobbs (Major: Environmental Science Policy and Management):

“[I] benefited from the small class size, which made interaction with professors more personable and gave more insight into their professional careers. I most enjoyed the collections that many of the classes required as an excuse to get out in the field during often busy semesters”. 




Meredith Pounds

Meredith Pounds (Major: Plant Science) on her Entomology Minor experiences:

"I have always looked forward to my entomology classes here at the U - whether we were dissecting the nervous systems of cockroaches, heading outdoors to catch butterflies, or pinning an insect for the very first time. I have made so many fond memories, and this department has been a light in what has been a difficult part of my life. 

I would like to thank all of my professors for the incredible energy and dedication they brought to the classroom, and encourage students to take as many entomology courses as you can! In no other department is there such a wide array of experiences and hands-on learning available. May it continue to grow, thrive, and spread the magic of entomology." 

Entomology Education News

Our many and diverse course offerings as Freshman Seminars, courses with LE (Liberal Education) designations, Honor Seminar, courses offered on the East Bank campus, and online, were well received. We surpassed, by 42%, CFANS student credit hour target for the department for this academic year! Thank you to all 2019-2020 Instructors!

Our new and exciting courses also led to increased enrollment and retention in the undergraduate Entomology Minor - from 13 students enrolled three years ago to the current enrollment of 24! 

News Spotlight

University of Minnesota insect collection provides a wealth of environmental information

Collaborating with Landowners and Farmers to Restore Bee Habitat (Video)

How Drones Can Use Multispectral Imagery to Fight Pests

Hodson Graduate Alumni Awardee Spotlight

Robert Suranyi

We are pleased to honor Dr. Robert Suranyi with the 2020 Hodson Graduate Alumni Award. Robert received a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering from Szent Istvan University, Godollo, Hungary. He came to the MN to pursue an MS degree (received in 1997) in our department, and continued on for a PhD which he completed in 2000. His major professors were Ted Radcliffe and Dave Ragsdale. His early graduate days were challenging. To say he was in culture shock his first 6 months is an understatement! He really had no idea what to expect, and got off to a rough start when he realized the unique cultural differences between the US and his Hungarian heritage. Currently, Robert is the R&D research leader at MGK, and member of an interdisciplinary team conducting product development research in agricultural and urban pest management. Robert is still remembered fondly by potato growers of the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota as the ‘”crazy Hungarian”. He has developed close collaborations with members of the department and is a regular attendee at our department events. Congratulations, Robert! 


UMN Entomology Department 2019–2020 Achievements/Honors/Graduations

Congratulations to our undergraduates, graduates, staff, and faculty for their selection for fellowships, awards, student competition prizes, and other honors and achievements at UMN, nationally, and internationally! 

Faculty Promotion

Dr. Brian Aukema was promoted from Associate Professor to the rank of Professor

Fellowships Summer and Academic year 2020-2021


  • Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Fellowship and American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship
    Corrie Nyquist


  • Fulbright-NSF Arctic Research Grant
    Corrie Nyquist


  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
    Ian Lane
    Anh Tran
  • Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship
    Julia Brokaw
  • DOVE Fellowship
    Laura Fricke


  • Charles H. Bell Avian Graduate Summer Fellowship (Bell Museum)
    Ismael Ramirez
  • CFANS Compact
    Laura Fricke
  • CFANS Diversity fellowship
    Alyssa Gooding (in EEB Graduate Program with Entomology Advisor)
  • MnDRIVE Global Food Ventures Graduate Student Professional Development Program
    Hailey Shanovich (in NRSM Graduate program, Entomology GRA)


  • Excellence in Entomology Fellowship
    Emily Althoff
  • Marion Brooks-Wallace Graduate Fellowship
    Jake Whittman 
  • Allan G. Peterson Fellowship
    Cody Thorpe 
  • Morris and Elaine Soffer Rockstein Fellowship
    Rafael Aita 
  • Lugger-Radcliffe Fellowship
    Dominique Ebbenga 

Natural Resources Science and Management Graduate Program

  • Graduate Fellowship
    Grace Haynes (in NRSM Graduate Program, Entomology GRA)

MN Grape Growers Association

  • Swenson Scholarship
    Dominique Ebbenga



  • NCB Award of Excellence in Integrated Pest Management
    Bill Hutchison


  • President’s Student Leadership & Service Award
    Michelle Boone
  • Mary A. McEvoy Award for Public Service and Leadership
    Michelle Boone


College Assembly Awards
  • CFANS Professional and Academic Award – Research Category
    Aubree Kees
  • Distinguished Diversity and Inclusion Award
    Christina Herron-Sweet
Borealis Awards
  • Exemplary Post-Doc Award
    Xinru Wang
  • Graduate Student Leadership Award
    Michelle Boone

Entomology Department

  • Hodson Alumni Award
    Robert Suranyi

Travel Award

  • International Thesis Research Travel Grant
    Maggie Shanahan

Upcoming Events

Our Celebrate Entomology event, and our highly anticipated second annual Great Minnsect Show have been postponed due to COVID-19. 

University of Minnesota COVID-19 relief

The University of Minnesota is making real-time, difficult decisions in response to COVID-19, while also keeping the wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff at the forefront. Learn about changes to campus life here, and see how the University is leading on the front lines of COVID-19 treatment, therapies, and vaccines here.

To address urgent needs, the University established three new funds focused on providing COVID-19 relief to core priorities. 

Donate today


The UMN Alumni Association has developed and funded the Maroon and Gold Network, a free, online platform for career-related advice and networking that has grown to more than 5,000 alumni and students in 44 countries and 46 states plus Washington D.C.

Join The Maroon & Gold Network today!

Support Us

Your support will help us achieve our mission of providing world-leading research and education that inspires society to value the environmental contributions of insects and their relatives, and to use best management practices to protect our food, health, and environment.

Donate here

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