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Student Spotlight – Anna Webb

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 Anna Webb!

Q: Masters or Ph.D., and how far into your program are you?
A: I am a Master’s student in my second and final year. I will be graduating on time this semester.

Q: What is your research project?
A: “Exploring biological and chemical control methods in an integrated pest management approach for Varroa destructor in honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies”

This might be biased, but my research is super cool! My research aims to combat an invasive, mite, Varroa destructor, by utilizing cold storage intervals and an entomopathogenic fungus.

These mites parasitize honey bee colonies and their brood to such an extent that current industry treatments are having a hard time keeping up. Miticides aren’t working as well as we would like, so cold storage could possibly augment these chemical treatments. As for the entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium, when placed into honey bee colonies the spores are spread around the hive by the bees. When encountering the mites, they are encapsulated and parasitized by the Metarhizium, directly killing the mite.

Q: How did you become interested in entomology?
A: In my freshman year of college, I bought a book on the basics of beekeeping. After reading this I became slightly obsessed with honey bees and pursued the art of beekeeping. I had my first colony at age 19, and before I left my home state of Tennessee for graduate school, that one colony had increased to six. Now, I love all bugs, but it started with the bees!

Q: Why would you recommend entomology as a career?
A: Insects are everywhere; if you study insects, you can find yourself just about anywhere in the world if you are willing. This has always been appealing to me in terms of a career. A doorway that can lead anywhere is desirable for how I wish to live my life.

Q: What are your future career plans after graduation?
A: I currently have a job lined up in Missoula, Montana to start at my earliest convenience this May. The job title is, “Adventure Guide.” I am responsible for informing and guiding individuals on hiking, fly fishing, and rafting trips. Just about any other activity you can think of outdoors, I am responsible for leading. This job does not require my master’s in entomology, but it is outdoors every single day, and that is what I desire most after this last year of social isolation and zoom meetings. I have always wanted to move to Montana so I’m taking this opportunity to make myself happy. After this job, I would love to start an insect protein or farming business. I also am keen on pursuing my Ph.D. overseas after in-person classes resume.

Q: What is your favorite insect and why?
A: If you had asked me this question at the beginning of my time here at WSU, I would have said honey bees. However, for the last year and a half, I have decided cicada’s are by far my favorite insect. Growing up in the south, you don’t always see the cicada, but you always hear them. It was only after living in eastern Washington for about a year that I realized, I truly missed the sound of the cicada’s back home. The sound of the cicada is home to me.


Visit the Hopkins Lab website here for more information on Anna Webb or follow her on Twitter!