Jessica Rootes

Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
1980 Folwell Avenue, 219 Hodson Hall
St. Paul, MN 55108
United States

Brian Aukema
  • Bachelor of Arts in Physiology with a Spanish minor from the University of Minnesota
  • Associate of Arts in Spanish from the Defense Language Institute in California
  • Associate of Applied Science in Intelligence Studies and Technologies from the Community College of the Air Force, Alabama



Lakewood, CO

Why insects?

Insects have always captivated me. They are so small and beautiful, yet hold so much importance in ecosystems. I have been using photography to capture their beauty since I was a kid and will gladly continue to do so at any given opportunity.

Why University of Minnesota?

I chose the University of Minnesota for many reasons. This university has a long standing history of innovation: it was the place where world’s first pacemaker, the #2 pencil scoring testing method, and the first grafted trees of the delicious honeycrisp apple were created. This innovation and encouragement of diverse thinking is continuously fostered at this school; it has an excellent reputation for research and maintains a R1 research status, indicating its high activity in ongoing contributions to mankind. There is also a sense of history, pride, and culture that separates this university from others. When you walk the halls, you are following the footsteps of creators before you such as Bob Dylan and witnessing contributions from artists like Frederick R. Weisman. I was equally attracted to the University of Minnesota because of the surrounding diverse wildlife and natural areas such as the Sax Zim Bog, Lake Superior, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.


I am currently aiming to get a PhD in Natural Resources Science and Management with a minor in Entomology. In addition to this, I hope to someday earn a J.D. to better qualify me for a potential career in politics, as I believe the largest impact in the fight against climate change will be made via legislative changes. My dream is to work for the Department of Interior or Department of Agriculture in some capacity; specifically, my most lofty goal is to someday become the Secretary of the Interior. In addition to this, I am considering the idea to start a non-profit organization that mitigates climate change effects via community outreach and education and tree planting.

Favorite Insect

My favorite insect is the rusty-patched bumble bee, though it’s difficult to really and truly nail down only one favorite. I love their coloring and the fact that they are one of the first bumble bees to emerge in Spring while also being one of the last to hibernate. Their hard work and dedication is appreciated.

Other interests/Hobbies

I am a Spanish-speaking veteran who has the travel bug. I have visited France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Australia, and Indonesia but yearn to see more places and experience more cultures. I have taken my camera to all of these places and have developed a passion for photography, specifically macro photography. Though I’m still working on my skills, I also like drawing and painting watercolor. I also like to bike, hike, and go camping as the outdoors is where I feel happiest.

Areas of Interest

I will be studying a native insect called the eastern spruce budworm, or Choristoneura fumiferana. This moth is a pronounced disturbance agent on Isle Royale, but has not yet been studied there. My dissertation research will study the population dynamics of spruce budworm in northern Minnesota and on Isle Royale, and whether or not wolf reintroduction to the island has helped facilitate the regeneration of Balsam fir within canopy gaps caused by spruce budworm by suppressing excessive moose browse.