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News Archive


Our department publishes a (mostly) biennial newsletter that includes information on professors, students, postdocs, and alumni, as well as notable events and occurrences around the department. The most recent newsletters are listed below and are free for download. More recent newsletters may be larger files (>5MB) and require a long load time. Older newsletters are archived on a separate page and may be reached by the link below.

Older News

2/22/2014: The Department of Entomology hosted the 31st Annual Insect Fear Film Festival on February 22, 2014. The theme for the year was Pesticide Fear with some scary films that frightened and delighted guests. The festival showcased the movies: Riders of the Whistling Pines (1949) and Locusts: The 8th Plague (2005) and featured the insect petting zoo, BugScope, face painting, and our annual insect art contest! Thanks to our volunteers!
9/25/2013: Congratulations to Dr. Brian Allan, who has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation! His research will center around how human land management, including livestock production and wildlife conservation for ecotourism, can affect tick-borne diseases and human health. For more information on ongoing research in the Allan lab please click here.
News Image 6/2013: Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate National Pollinator Week on June 17th through the 23rd. Our 6th annual celebration events included: a guided nature walk of the prairie at Meadowbrook, pollinator food guides at the Common Ground Food Co-op, an insect photography workshop by Alex Wild, a workshop on nurturing native bees, and children's activities! For more information, please visit the website.
5/15/2013: Graduate student Catherine Dana was awarded a student research grant from the Animal Behavior Society.
5/1/2013: Wenfu Mao, Mary Schuler, and May Berenbaum report that specific components found in honey upregulate detoxification enzymes in the honey bee (PNAS).
4/24/2013: Graduate students Christina Silliman and Catherine Dana were selected as winners of the Entomology Educational Project Award for their lessons developed for EnLiST.
4/16/2013: Graduate student Fredrick Larabee was awarded a Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellowship.
3/30/2013: Congratulations to graduate students Allen Lawrance, John Maddux, and Selina Ruzi (PEEC) on receiving Honorable Mentions from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program!
2/24/2013: Congratulations to graduate student Sarah Hughson for winning the 2013 William H. Luckmann Award in Applied Entomology!
News Image 2/23/2013: The 30th Annual Insect Fear Film Festival took place on February 23, 2013. The theme for this year was The InsX-Files: The Truth (About Insects) Is Out There, with special guest Chris Carter, creator of the X-Files. The festival featured the episode The X-Files: "The War of the Coprophages," about a wave of deaths linked to what may be alien robotic cockroaches, followed by the 1998 feature The X-Files: Fight the Future, about killer bees that transmit a deadly alien virus by stinging. The event featured a variety of exhibits and activities, including exotic insect displays from around the world, the insect petting zoo, face painting and entries from the annual insect art contest. For more information, please check out the official IFFF website and Facebook page.
2/1/2013: Professor Gene Robinson has been recognized as this year's Distinguished Animal Behaviorist by the Animal Behavior Society.
11/15/2012: Antkey.org, an online resource for facilitating the identification of introduced ants in North America and the Pacific, went live last week. This webpage was developed by Eli Sarnat, a postdoc in the lab of Andy Suarez, with support from USDA APHIS Identification Technology Program.
10/4/2012: Department Head May Berenbaum received the Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award, presented by E. O. Wilson himself, for her significant contributions to the study of biodiversity.
8/25/2012: Congratulations to Professor Jim Whitfield, who has recently been elected the new President-Elect of the International Society of Hymenopterists.
8/14/2012: Congratulations to postdoctoral research associate Hongmei Li, in the Robinson Lab, who received an American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women!
8/1/2012: Professor Hugh Robertson was named as a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America for his contributions to the fields of transposons, chemoreception, and insect genomics. Congratulations, Dr. Robertson!
7/26/2012: Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) has been selected to receive the 2012 Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Award in the area of Research/Education.
6/13/2012: Congratulations to Department Head May Berenbaum, who was recently named an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, in recognition for her eminent and distinguished service to the field of entomology!
6/12/2012: The Robinson Lab develops a technique to probe the relationship between gene expression and transcription factors in the honey bee (PNAS).
News Image 6/2012: We hope you all were able to attend our National Pollinator Week events, which took place June 18th through the 24th. Events included: food guides at Common Ground Food Co-op, a pollinator dinner at Buvons Wine Bar, honey and cheese tasting at Prairie Fruits Farm, an Insects and Music Performance at the Pollinatarium, a concert by The Duke of Uke and His Novelty Orchestra, an insect photography workshop by Alex Wild, and many children's activities! For more information, please visit the website!
News Image 4/2012: Congratulations to Dr. Sydney Cameron, who has been awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant! Building on her previous work in Mexico, Dr. Cameron will be traveling to Argentina to aid in developing a large-scale study assessing bumble bee decline that was recently mandated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. While in Argentina, she also lectured on phylogenetics and conservation genetics at the Universidad Nacional del Comahue and delivered the keynote address to the Argentine Congress of Entomology.
3/31/2012: The Bee Research Facility and the Institute for Genomic Biology offered a short course "Bees and Beekeeping".
3/13/2012 : Emeritus Professor Gilbert Waldbauer's newly released book, "How Not to Be Eaten: The Insects Fight Back", details the amazing strategies insects employ to find their food -- and to prevent themselves from being food!
3/9/2012: The Robinson Lab investigates the molecular basis of novelty-seeking behavior in honey bee scouting and foraging (Science).
News Image 2/25/2012: The Department of Entomology hosted its 29th Annual Insect Fear Film Festival. The theme this year was International Ant films with some more recent scary films that frightened and delighted guests. The festival showcased the movies: Glass Trap (2005) and The Bone Snatcher (2003) and featured an insect petting zoo, the BugScope, face painting, and our annual insect art contest! For more information, please check out the official IFFF website. Thank you to all of our guests and volunteers!
2/15/2012: Dr. Sam Heads and Dr. Steve Taylor describe a new species of a grasshopper-like insect from Belize (ZooKeys).
2/7/2012: Professor Brian Allan collaborates on a study investigating the response of squirrels and raccoons to increased tick density (EcoHealth).
1/26/2012: The Pittendrigh Lab appears on America's Heartland, speaking about the Scientific Animations Without BordersSM project.
News Image 1/2012: Professor Gene Robinson (Departments of Entomology, Neuroscience) has been named director of the Institute for Genomic Biology. Professor Robinson has been acting as director on an interim basis since March 2011. More than 140 faculty and affiliates from across center compose the IGB, and the institute is continuing to explore pressing problems in agriculture, human health, the environment, and energy use and production. For more information, visit the Institute for Genomic Biology's website.
12/5/2011: Dr. Andrew Suarez contributes to a study regarding mutualistic interactions in the imported red fire ant (PNAS).
11/18/2011: Department head May Berenbaum discusses her five favorite insect books (The Browser).
11/16/2011: Congratulations to all who presented at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America! Honors went to graduate students Rob Mitchell and Nick Naeger for their presentations in the Student Competition. Further congratulations to Dr. Joseph Spencer for taking an award with his short film, "Prairie Cicadas at Loda Cemetary."
10/5/2011: Dr. James Whitfield collaborates on a study that infers traits of the last universal common ancestor, the most recent organism from which all life descends (Biol. Direct).
9/27/2011: The Robinson lab links observed behavioral states in bees to discrete patterns of expressed genes (PNAS).
News Image 7/29/2011: The BugScope project at the University of Illinois has been awarded the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education! Bugscope is an online service provided through the UI Beckman Institute and allows classrooms anywhere in the world to remotely control a scanning electron microscope and view insects on a grand scale. The browser-based software includes a live chat session where students can have questions answered by Bugscope staff as well as volunteers from the Department of Entomology. For more information, visit the BugScope website or read the prize essay published in Science Magazine.
7/20/2011: Postdoctoral researcher Dr. Wenfu Mao leads a study identifying several detoxification enzymes in honey bees that break down pesticides (PNAS).
6/20/2011: Department head May Berenbaum discusses honey bee decline in a brief interview (Smithsonian Magazine).
6/15/2011: Dr. Gene Robinson discusses the new i5k initiative to sequence the genomes of 5,000 insects (Am. Entomol., PCT Magazine).
5/25/2011: Dr. Gene Robinson discusses the recent finding that queen determination in honey bees is primarily driven by a specific and strongly conserved protein in royal jelly (Nature).
4/22/2011: The Pittendrigh lab identifies cellular pathways in Drosophila melanogaster that are affected by methamphetamines (PLoS ONE).
News Image 4/15/2011: Department head May Berenbaum was awarded the 2011 Tyler Environmental Prize, a $200,000 award that recognizes individuals who have contributed in an outstanding manner to scientific knowledge and public leadership to preserve and enhance the environment of the world. The award recognizes Dr. Berenbaum's pioneering research in chemical ecology and her efforts to educate the public on insects, entomology, and the recent bee decline. Past laureates include Jane Goodall, Edward O. Wilson, and Paul Ehrlich. For more information, please view the award announcement.
4/12/2011: Members of the Robinson lab compare sequence data from ten bee species to identify several genes and biological processes in social insects that may be driving the evolution of sociality (PNAS; also see review in F1000).
4/5/2011: Dr. Kevin Johnson and colleagues demonstrate that lice diversified before the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, suggesting a much earlier date for the radiation of birds and mammals (Biol. Lett.).
3/10/2011: Dr. Brian Allan discusses the ecology behind the recent spike in tick-borne diseases (MSNBC).
3/1/2011: Members of the Pittendrigh lab develop instructive animated videos that play in cell phones, which will be used in educational programs in developing nations (CNET).
News Image 2/2011: Thanks to all who attended and volunteered at the Department of Entomology's 28th Annual Insect Fear Film Festival! This year we presented cinema showcasing Killer Wasps, including the 1958 B-movie classic Monster from Green Hell and the more recent made-for-TV "Swarmed" (2005). Special thanks goes to the producer of Swarmed, Gordon Yang, who visited the festival to introduce his film and discuss it with the audience. As always, we featured an insect petting zoo, art contest, hands-on electron microscopy, and displays of insects from around the world.

2/4/2011: Postdoctoral researcher Dr. Sam Heads describes the first fossil representative of the extant grasshopper genus Schizodactylus, and finds that the genus has changed very little despite 100 million years of evolution (ZooKeys).
1/31/2011: Congratulations to department head May Berenbaum, who has been awarded the UI College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean's Award for Undergraduate Teaching!


12/16/2010: Department head May Berenbaum promotes her new cookbook, "Honey, I'm Homemade" and demonstrates a recipe on TV (WGN-TV).
11/17/2010: Dr. Sydney Cameron discusses the bumble bee decline in North America (Nature News).
News Image 10/2010: Department head May Berenbaum and the U of I Press have published "Honey, I'm Homemade", a dessert cookbook featuring honey-based recipes donated by our students, staff, alumni, and other sources worldwide. Sales of the book benefit the University of Illinois Pollinatarium, the first freestanding science outreach center in the nation devoted to flowering plants and their pollinators. The department celebrated the release with a launch party and cooking competition featuring recipes from the book. Images of the elegant (and delicious) entries are available online, courtesy of photographer Alex Wild.

News Image 9/28/2010: The University of Illinois has the highest ranked entomology doctoral program nationwide, according to an analysis conducted by the National Research Council. The data were obtained from a variety of statistics from the 2005-6 academic year, including faculty publications, grants, student GRE scores, financial support, program size, and time to degree. For more information and to view the data, visit the National Academies Press and view the free download options.
9/15/2010: Dr. Andrew Suarez is named as one of six University Scholars at the University of Illinois.
7/27/2010: Department head May Berenbaum discusses this past year's Insect Fear Film Festival and a few of her favorite insect films (PCT Magazine).
6/21/2010: The genome of the human body louse is published by a consortium of scientists including U of I professors Barry Pittendrigh, May Berenbaum, and Hugh Robertson, postdoc Weilin Sun, and recent department alum Reed Johnson (PNAS).
News Image 6/2010: The fourth annual National Pollinator Week took place during June 21-27, 2010! The Department of Entomology helped celebrate on June 26th at our pollinator discovery center, The Pollinatarium. Events included photography workshops, a guided nature walk, bee box building, kids activities, and an art show with live music in the evening. Visit Champaign-Urbana's National Pollinator Week website for more details!

News Image 6/2010: The Department of Entomology was pleased to offer IB 496: Introduction to Beekeeping during Summer Session II of 2010. Students in this course learned the skills to manage small apiaries for honey production. Additional lecture topics included bee biology, genetics, social evolution, pests & diseases, native pollinators, and a history of apiculture. Please visit the course website for more information, or contact course instructor Alex Wild.

6/6/2010: If you haven't already read May Berenbaum's recent book, The Earwig's Tail, have a look at the preview published in Google Books!
4/27/2010: The Robinson lab contributes to a study that indicates a conserved genetic basis for division of labor in social Hymenoptera (Proc. R. Soc. B).
1/15/2010: Drs. Hugh Robertson, James Whitfield, and May Berenbaum contribute to the publication of three genomes of the parasitic wasp genus Nasonia (Science).
News Image 2/2010: The Department of Entomology's 27th annual Insect Fear Film Festival, "Prehistoric Insects," was a huge success! For this year's theme we went back millions of years in Earth's history to take a look at some spectacular and bizarre prehistoric creatures. This year our insect petting zoo featured popular "pets" like cockroaches, moths and grasshoppers as well as live horseshoe crabs and a display of insect fossils! For more information, check out the official IFFF website.

1/1/2010: Members of the Hanks lab review the causes and consequences of cannibalism in non-carnivorous insects (Annu. Rev. Entomol).


12/20/2009: Department head May Berenbaum discusses the increasing use of fly decals to improve hygeine in men's restrooms (NPR).
News Image 12/2009: The Department of Entomology celebrated its 100th birthday with a one-day symposium on December 11th, 2009. Sessions were organized around a distinguished past faculty member who had made a lasting contribution in an area of insect science, and featured invited alumni speakers who are making a contemporary impact on that area. Please visit the official EntCent website for more information, and visit the UI News Bureau for a slideshow about the history of the department!

News Image 12/2009: Congratulations to the Illinois Linnaean Games team for winning the national championship at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America! Team members Rob Mitchell, Scott Shreve, Nils Cordes, Fred Larabee, and Stephanie Dold defeated teams from several competing schools for the department's first victory at the national level. Further congratulations to Cindy McDonnell and Emilie Bess for winning honors for their presentations in the student competition!

10/7/2009: Congratulations to department head May Berenbaum, who has received the 2009 AAAS Public Understanding of Science & Technology Award!
10/6/2009: Emeritus professor Dr. Gilbert Waldbauer publishes "Fireflies, Honey, and Silk," a book documenting the beneficial impact of insects on human society. The text is illustrated by fellow department member Dr. James Nardi.
9/26/2009: Professor Gene Robinson is awarded the NIH Pioneer award to use bees as a model for studying the molecular basis of altruism and addiction.
8/25/2009: Drs. Reed Johnson, May Berenbaum, and Gene Robinson identify a new marker for colony collapse disorder and a potential cause (PNAS, Time).
8/17/2009: The Robinson lab links inherited aggression in Africanized bees to genes and behaviors that are induced by environmental factors in European honey bees (PNAS).
8/14/2009: Department head May Berenbaum discusses the agricultural - and the cultural - impacts of honey bees in a two-part podcast (Scientific American: Part 1; Part 2). Also, click here to read an online forum where Dr. Berenbaum discusses the use of DDT to combat malaria (Public Radio International).
8/3/2009: The Electronic BeeSpace Project is featured on ESA's Buzz of the Week.
7/22/2009: Congratulations to Professor Gene Robinson, who has been elected as a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America.
7/7/2009: Postdoctoral researcher Dr. Jeff Lozier humorously illustrates the pitfalls of ecological niche modeling (J. Biogeogr.).
6/23/2009: Congratulations to department head May Berenbaum for taking first place in the National Pollinator Week recipe contest with her original dessert recipe, "Apiscotti."
6/8/2009: Dr. Barry Alto leads a study reporting that a predatory midge preferentially eats the larvae of invasive Asian tiger mosquitoes over native species of mosquito (J. Anim. Ecol).
News Image 5/2009: The Department of Entomology's newest outreach effort, the Pollinatarium, has opened its doors. This small museum is located south of the university's Arboretum and is dedicated to educating the public about the natural history of pollinators such as bees, bats, and butterflies. The Pollinatarium will be open beginning May 30th, every Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 PM. Click here to watch a photoessay by the News-Gazette, or visit the Pollinatarium website for more information!

4/28/2009: The photography of postdoctoral researcher Dr. Alex Wild is featured in a New York Times slide show presentation on ants (NYT).
4/2/2009: The Cameron lab pioneers a new technique to non-destructively sample genetic data from museum specimens, and demonstrates that populations of bumble bees have fragmented and lost genetic diversity as numbers have declined (Mol. Ecol.).
News Image 3/2009: Congratulations to the Illinois Linnaean Games team for their first place victory at the 2009 North Central Branch meeting of the ESA! Team members Rob Mitchell, Scott Shreve, Nils Cordes, Fred Larabee, and Stephanie Dold defeated teams from several competing schools to bring home the gold. These students will move on to represent their school and their branch at the national meeting in December. A further congratulations to all students who presented at the meeting, and to Rob Mitchell for taking first place in the student competition.

2/12/2009: Professor Jim Whitfield discusses how parasitic wasps use a virus to subdue their hosts' immune system. (Nature News).
2/10/2009: Research of the Robinson lab is humorously featured on a segment of the Colbert Report. (Comedy Central).
2/3/2009: Dr. Sam Beshers co-authors a study on how leaf-cutter ants regulate the flow of traffic in foraging trails (J. Exp. Biol).
News Image 2/2009: The Department of Entomology hosted the 26th Annual Insect Fear Film Festival, "Centipede Cinema," on Saturday, February 28th, 2009. This year's movies debuted the insects' fellow arthropods: the Myriapods! Our terrifying film offerings featured a giant centipede menacing spelunkers and hordes of smaller centipedes devouring their victims alive. We also featured a live petting zoo with our own giant centipedes and millipedes, interactive electron microscopy, insect artwork, and exotic insect displays from around the world! For those who missed it, the event can be seen here in a multimedia report by the News-Gazette, and pictures are available here courtesy of graduate student Jo-Anne Holley and postdoc Alex Wild. Some of our live insects can be seen here in pre-festival publicity on WICD, and Environmental Almanac covered the natural history of our star performers.

News Image 2/2009: The University of Illinois Library, in conjunction with the Chicago Field Museum, is digitizing 175 volumes on the taxonomy and life history of the Hymenoptera! As entomologists know well, the Hymenoptera -- the ants, bees, and wasps -- contain a staggering amount of diversity and the addition of these books to our digital collections is exciting news. Read more at the library's blog, or view a example scan of a French monograph.

News Image 1/2009: To celebrate its centennial, the Department of Entomology published its first calendar, titled 'Orange & Blue Insects.' This 2009 calendar marks important entomological dates and features images of insects with natural patterns of orange and blue colors. Click here for a close-up of the cover!


12/23/2008: The Robinson lab contributes to a study describing the effects of cocaine on honey bees (J. Exp. Biol).
11/19/2008: Congratulations to all who presented at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America! Honors went to grad students Ann Ray and Emilie Bess for their presentations in the Student Competition. A further congratulations goes to Dr. Kevin Steffey, who was named as a Fellow of the ESA.
11/18/2008: Department head May Berenbaum and professor Gene Robinson lend their scientific expertise to Hollywood filmmakers as part of the National Academy of Sciences' new Science & Entertainment Exchange.
11/7/2008: Professor Gene Robinson leads a review on the interactions between genes and social behavior (Science).
8/29/2008: The J. Whitfield lab discovers an unprecedented diversity in the Microgastrinae, a group of parasitic wasps (PNAS). Click here to view a narrated slideshow on microgastrine diversity.
7/1/2008: The Schuler lab identifies a key protein involved in DDT resistance of Anopheles mosquitoes (PNAS).
News Image 6/2008: The Champaign Urbana Pollinator Awareness Network (CUPAN), in conjunction with the Department of Entomology, planned a celebration of National Pollinator Week during June 22-28, 2008. Activities kicked off with an opening ceremony at the Plant Biology Conservatory on the University of Illinois campus, and featured a pollinator art exhibit, pollinator-themed tours of the conservatory and greenhouses and information on how the public can participate in pollinator conservation. The week's activities also included children's discovery programs, workshops on bee identification and the BeeSpotter monitoring program, events at the Farmer's Market, and many other opportunities to observe and appreciate pollinators in our community.

4/3/2008: Karen Pruiett, manager of the department's Bee Research Facility, receives the Chancellor's Academic Professional Excellence award.
3/25/2008: The Berenbaum and DeLucia labs discover that elevated CO2 levels can sabotage plant chemical defenses, subsequently increasing their appeal and susceptibility to insect pests (PNAS).
News Image 3/2008: Academic Analytics has released the results of their 2006-07 Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index. This index measures departments in several areas, including faculty publications, other works citing these publications, grants awarded, and many others. This year our department took the #3 spot among Entomology departments nationwide, and ranked first in the subcategories of grants and awards per faculty. For more information, please see a description of the survey's methods here.

2/25/2008: Amro Zayed and Charlie Whitfield demonstrate that invasive honey bees adaptively exploit the genetic diversity of preexisting populations (PNAS).
News Image 2/2008: The Department of Entomology hosted the 25th Annual Insect Fear Film Festival, "Animated Social Insects," on Saturday, February 23rd. This year's feature, Bee Movie, shook up our usual film roles and pitted bees against a villainous honey industry bent on bee subjugation. Following that, we were proud to host Simon Smith, director of Bee Movie, who discussed his work on the film and answered questions from the audience! We wrapped up the evening with an ant's quest for individuality in 1998's animated film Antz. We also featured a live insect petting zoo, an active, observation bee hive, interactive electron microscopy, insect artwork, and exotic insect displays from around the world!
1/30/2008: The Berenbaum lab investigates the recent reassociation of parsnip webworm with parsnip in New Zealand, after a separation of over 100 years (PNAS).


12/18/2007:The Suarez lab contributes to a PNAS study explaining the invasion success of Argentine ants.
News Image 11/2007: The University of Illinois has launched the BeeSpotter web portal, designed to aid the public in identifying and reporting populations of honey bees and bumble bees. The site, a work in progress, allows users to submit bee pictures and the locations where they were taken. The pictures are identified by staff in the Department of Entomology, and the location data is incorporated into a map to create a statewide record of bee populations. The site will also feature guides to bees, and information on several other bee-related topics such as natural history, sting treatment, and bee gardens.
10/03/2007: Professor Gene Robinson is named to a Swanlund Chair, the University's highest endowed title.
10/2007: We are proud to announce that Ph.D. Alum, Dr. Rachel Galun (1955), received the 2007 LAS Alumni Achievement Award. This award is given to alumni who have demonstrated the values derived from a liberal arts and science education, through outstanding achievement. For more information about Dr. Galun and her work, please read her CV and letter of nomination (MS Word format).
9/28/2007: The Robinson lab leads a new study in Science, publishing genetic evidence for the evolution of eusociality through maternal behavior. Lead author Amy Toth also discusses the work in a recent News-Gazette article (11/1).
8/31/2007: The Robertson lab uncovers the odorant receptors that allow male bees to seek queens.
6/26/2007: Entomology department head May Berenbaum testifies before the 110th Congress on the importance of pollinators in ecosystems. This follows Dr. Berenbaum's previous testimony on colony collapse disorder (3/29).
3/2/2007: Losing Their Buzz - Dr. Berenbaum discusses honey bee decline in a New York Times op-ed piece (NYT account required).
3/1/2007: The Cameron lab publishes a new evolutionary history of vespid wasps.
News Image 3/2007: Academic Analytics has rated the UIUC Department of Entomology #1 in the nation by a wide margin in their 2005-06 Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index. This index, as reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education, measured departments in several factors: faculty publications, other works citing these publications, grants awarded, and many others. For more information, please see a description of the survey's methods here.