From the Chair, Jamie Strange, PhD

Photo by Steve Upperman

Department of Entomology at OSU BadgeAs we wrap up autumn semester 2021, it is a good time to take stock of where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. For those of you who don’t get to campus much, it might surprise you to see how normal it can seem, though a year ago it was much different. We had a successful fall of teaching with many of our classes back in person and near full capacity. The sidewalks of campus are bustling, and the labs in Wooster and Columbus are busy. Despite that, you can see that we are still working in a world that is not the same as it was two years ago. We are still masked up and you are just as likely to hear a conversation about booster shots as you are about Buckeyes football.

We have had some significant change in our faculty since spring 2021. As noted in the spring newsletter, Celeste Welty, Associate Professor of Entomology, retired in June. After serving as Dean of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), and then as Executive Vice President and Provost, Bruce McPheron, PhD, returned to our faculty as Professor of Entomology and Dean's Chair in CFAES International Programs.  In January 2022, Ashley Leach, PhD, will be joining our faculty as our Specialty Crop Entomologist. Ashley received her PhD from Cornell University and is currently finishing her post-doctoral research at Purdue University. While we welcome Bruce and Ashley to our department, we wish Casey Hoy, PhD, the best as he retires at the end of December 2021. Casey joined our department in 1987 and has served as Associate Chair, the Kellogg Endowed Chair in Agricultural Ecosystems Management, and the Faculty Director of the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation. Casey and his programs are still having tremendous impact for improving the sustainability of agroecosystems.

Ashley Leach, Assistant Professor of Specialty Crops EntomologyBruce McPheron, Professor of Entomology, former Provost

Even with all those changes, what has not changed is the resilience and dedication that our faculty and staff bring to work every day. Below, you will read about our incredible outreach programs and how Denise Ellsworth has adapted her Pollinator Program to reach an enormous audience. Jeni Filbrun has reimagined the Wooster Bug Zoo into the United Titanium Bug Zoo located in the lobby of the Wooster Science Building. This transformation has been over a year in the making, and it included a major fundraising campaign to provide funds for staff, equipment, and new arthropods for the zoo. In Columbus, Jeni Ruisch has formally taken over the Ohio State Insectary and has modernized the work done there. You can see from our publications and grants awarded that we have been busy with research and that the department continues to make an impact in entomological literature. Our students continue to excel, and at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America in Denver, they won first or second place in six of the student talk and poster competitions. Our teaching activities show that despite a downturn in student enrollment at the university level, our faculty remain busy in the classrooms and labs.

Finally, I want to highlight our work to increase undergraduate enrollment in the department. Reed Johnson, PhD, Associate Professor of Entomology, is leading a faculty task force to improve our undergraduate student recruitment and retention. The group is working to assess our recruitment strategies and develop new recruitment pathways. At the same time, we have launched a new Entomology Undergraduate Endowed Scholarship Fund (#317434). We invite gifts from alumni and friends to raise scholarship funds for undergraduate Entomology students. Our hope is to provide a "full-ride" scholarship for in-state tuition and fees annually, with preference given to students majoring in Entomology who demonstrate financial need, add diversity to the department, and/or contribute to nurturing a more diverse and inclusive departmental community. If you want to contribute to this new scholarship, you can give online or you can contact me at strange.54@osu.edu or Jen Heller in the CFAES Office of Advancement at heller.6@osu.edu.

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