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Student Spotlight – Abigail Clarke

Once a month we sit down with an Entomology graduate student to get to know more about them, how they became interested in Entomology, and what their research is about. This month, we sat down with Abigail Clarke!
Q: Masters or Ph.D., and how far into your program are you?
A: I am a second-year master’s student!

Q: What is your research project?
A: I currently study the life history and feeding behavior of Colladonus reductus, one of the leafhoppers that vectors X-disease to stone fruit. This disease was first seen in Washington in the 1940’s but has since reemerged and is critically impacting the stone fruit industry today. Learning about each life stage of the leafhopper and what they like to feed on is important in understanding the disease cycle as well as provide a management tool to slow the spread of this disease.

Q: How did you become interested in entomology?
A: Growing up on a plant nursery, I have always been interested in insects. I was particularly interested in the plant-insect interactions and ways to better manage insect pests, but I did not realize I could have a career in entomology. In high school, I was determined to pursue this interest and decided to go to University of Delaware to study entomology. There I had the opportunity to work at the USDA lab working with brown marmorated stink bug and spotted lantern fly, as well as parasitic wasps being used as biocontrol for BMSB. This experience has sparked my interest in research and solidified my career path within entomology.

Q: Why would you recommend entomology as a career?
A: I would recommend entomology as a career because there are so many different opportunities and aspects that comprise it. There are still so many things that we do not know about insects, and there are so many things that we can discover and apply knowledge to.

Q: What are your future career plans after graduation?
A: I plan on continuing my education with a PhD and look for a career within tree fruit extension. I am interested to help growers better manage and understand disease and pest problems, and continue to learn more about these problems as well!

Q: What is your favorite insect and why?
A: It is hard to pick one specific insect, but I really love weevils! In my opinion, they are super cute with their long snoots and some look ridiculous when they fly!