Webbanner.jpg (24693 bytes)


In Memoriam
Student Association
Graduate Students
Recent Graduates
Fear Film Festival
Insect Expo
Linnaean Games
Alumni Necrology



James Appleby. My interests are the life histories of insects and mites of trees, shrubs, and flowers. I am developing several comprehensive publications on the life histories of insects and mites of trees and shrubs. I continue to serve as the resident entomologist for WILL-TV’s Illinois Gardener, editor of Illinois Arboriculture, and chair of the National Insect Photographic Salon for the Entomological Society of America, and teach NRES 290/ENT 280. My hobbies are scuba diving; underwater, land, and video photography; water gardening; swimming; cross-country skiing; HO model railroading, and bird watching.


Edward J. Armbrust. I am an adjunct professor in the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences. My research concerns integrated pest management of forage crop insects, specifically using biological control agents. I oversee research programs on the biology, ecology, and control of insect pests of forage crops, especially alfalfa, and assist in the development and implementation of integrated management programs. I devote a great deal of time administering the Center for Economic Entomology at the Illinois Natural History Survey where I also serve as an Assistant Chief. [back to top]


Beshers1.jpg (14184 bytes)

Samuel N. Beshers. I am a research associate and visiting lecturer. This spring I am teaching the evolution half of BIOL 120 for the third time. This is challenging but fun, preaching to the class about the delights of organismal and evolutionary biology (especially of insects) before they become settled into more familiar and less rewarding career paths.

My research focuses on the division of labor and colony organization in leaf-cutting ants in the genus Atta. The fifth floor of Morrill Hall is now the home of eight small Atta colonies, that may eventually expand to fill the entire building. In collaboration with Gene Robinson, and using a combination of experiments and computer simulations, I am trying to understand the behavioral rules of individual workers that result in organized and effective colony behavior. I also participated in the Insect Expo this past fall for the third straight year. This year marked the first appearance of the Atta at the Expo, and they gave a fine performance, recruiting heavily to my offerings of clover and dandelion leaves, and carrying their leaf pieces along a 2-meter "highway" back to the nest. For next year we are looking for volunteers to demonstrate the use of Atta heads as natural "sutures" for closing wounds.


Bloch.jpg (11876 bytes)

Guy Bloch. I was born and grew up in Israel. Following 4 years in the army, I traveled for 3 years in America (north and south) and eastern Asia. I returned to Israel and began my career in biology at Tel Aviv University. I completed both my Masters and Ph.D. in the Department of Zoology. For my Masters I explored quantitative genetics of insecticide resistance in whiteflies. For my Ph.D. I worked with bees, studying the mechanisms of regulation of reproduction in bumble bees. This study included analyses at the social and physiological levels. I was fascinated with the bee sociobiology and came to the UIUC to work with Gene Robinson. I am married to Dorit and have two children: Aviv (7) and Rotem (3.5). [back to top]


Capaldi.jpg (14226 bytes)

Elizabeth A. (Beth) Capaldi. I’m a postdoc enjoying the benefits of the collaboration between Susan Fahrbach and Gene Robinson. I came to the department to work with them at the end of the fall semester 1996, after finishing my Ph.D. in Zoology at Michigan State University. I went to MSU for their Ecology & Evolutionary Biology program, after earning my bachelors degree in Biology from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. I’m originally from Rhode Island (yes, it is the biggest little state in the union) and believe it or not, I started out in science thinking I would be a marine phycologist! Now, it seems that I can’t get enough of animal behavior, or the beautiful Midwest! I still miss the blue of the ocean, but have adjusted my eyesight to the green seas of Illinois...but does anyone know where I can get some real Italian bread in town?

In the Fahrbach and Robinson labs, I am studying honey bee learning and memory in a 3-year position funded by NIH. Specifically, I work on the orientation flights that young bees take before they begin to for-age—bees learn about the world outside their hive during these flights. I’d like to determine if the insect brain structure called the mushroom bodies are important for the learning that occurs during orientation flights.

Working with Gene and Susan has created all sorts of terrific research opportunities for me. We are using a new radar technology to track honey bee flight behavior. This cool equipment was developed by the Radar Entomology Unit of the Natural Resources Institute in Malvern, England—I spent some time in England during summer 1997 tracking bees with harmonic radar at the Rothamsted Institute. Last year, I was a visitor at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, where I’m collaborating with Bill Wcislo (he’s on their scientific staff) on a project looking at the neuroanatomy of tropical bee brains; eventually, we’ll try to link the ecology, learning, and brain structure into some sort of phylogenetic analysis. I’ve also participated in a German-American academic exchange, and as a result, have connected with some great scientists in that country.

When I’m not watching bees fly on various continents, I enjoy reading, cooking, and garnering frequent flyer miles. I volunteer for Planned Parenthood of East Central Illinois and visit Chicago for weekends about once every month. I can frequently be seen in an endorphin-induced haze doing group exercises and lifting weights at DCR facilities or worshipping at the altar of NBC’s Law & Order. [back to top]


Catherine Eastman. My primary research deals with insects in vegetable cropping systems, including multiple pest interactions and the influence of crop environment on pest and beneficial insects. Among the more unusual projects I have worked on are various aspects of horseradish pest management. Current projects include evaluation of the impact of plant varietal differences in glucosino-late levels and the use of alternative production practices on insects associated with cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli. I am active in the Entomological Society of America at the national level and in the North Central Branch.


Michelle.jpg (13895 bytes)

Michelle Elekonich. I did my undergraduate work at Cornell in biopsychology, and my graduate work at the University of Washington in animal behavior. My dissertation was on female-female territorial aggression and its hormonal control in song sparrows. I am working on organizational and activational effects of juvenile hormone on honey bee brains, foraging and social behavior on the developmental psychology and neurobiology training grant from NIH, jointly with the Department of Psychology and, of course, in Gene and Susan’s labs.

I have a 12-year-old Labrador retriever who plays frisbee and a financÚ who just moved here from Seattle. [back to top]


Michael E. Irwin. I am working on an NSF grant that focuses on the taxonomy of flies belonging to the family Therevidae. This grant is part of the program "Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy." It has three major goals: developing monographs of poorly known groups of organisms, training the next generation of systematists, and using electronic technology to assemble and disseminate knowledge about the group. We are attempting to develop a phylogenetic analysis of the major subgroups of this medium-sized family. There are four graduate students in the Department of Entomology that have been or are involved with the project: Steve Gaimari, who received his Ph.D. this past fall; Mark Metz, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D.; Kevin Holston, who completed his M.S. this fall and is pursuing a Ph.D., and Martin Hauser, a German citizen who just entered UIUC and is pursuing a Ph.D. Gail Kampmeier is contributing substantially to the objectives of the grant through the development of databases and web pages. Co-PIs David Yeates (University of Queensland, Australia) and Brian Wiegmann (North Carolina State University), along with collaborators Don Webb (INHS) and Chris Thompson (USDA/ARS) are the engines that allow us to complete tasks towards the objects of the grant. Many expeditions, supported by the Schlinger Foundation, have occurred that help towards the discovery of new taxa. Our team is in the throes of writing a renewal grant for this project. [back to top]


Michael Jeffords. I am a professional scientist at the Illinois Natural History Survey and an associate professor of entomology in the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences. My research interests include biological control of forest pests, effects of insect management of non-target species, and the interactions of natural and managed ecosystems. I am the public relations and education liaison for the Survey. In that role, I am responsible for translating scientific information into a variety of formats for all Illinois citizens, which includes creating curricular materials for grades K-12, writing articles for popular magazines, and other activities that can be used to inform the citizenry about important scientific issues. In addition, Susan Post, Kenneth Robertson, and I have completed a book, Illinois Wilds, that is a detailed account of the wild lands that remain in Illinois. [back to top]


Xianchun Li. I am a visiting postdoc in May Berenbaum’s lab working on P450s responsible for allelochemical-insecticide cross-resistance. I’ve been interested in biochemistry, molecular biology, and evolution of insecticide resistance in herbivorous insects. Recently, I isolated the first P450 cDNA, namely CYP6B8, from Helicoverpa zea and expressed this P450 cDNA in insect cells. This research will hopefully allow us determine the evolutionary relationship between insecticide resistance and allelochemical tolerance in herbivorous insects. Before coming here, I worked on insecticide resistance and development of botanic insecticides in the Plant Protection Department, Nanjing Agricultural University (P.R. China) as an associate professor.

I like to chat, fish, play cards, garden, and watch TV. I also enjoy cooking. Enjoying life with my wife Xiang-xia and daughter Shuqi is definitely my favorite pastime. However, my heart is open to every new friend.


Eli Levine studies the biology, field ecology, and pest-host relationships of insect pests of corn and soybeans. I am also interested in devising new and unique methods for controlling these insects and incorporating these tactics into integrated pest management systems for corn and soybean. Current research interests include: (1) determining the factors responsible for egg-laying by the western corn rootworm in east-central Illinois and northwest Indiana soybean fields. Until the early 1990s, western corn rootworm beetles laid their eggs almost exclusively in cornfields. Intense crop rotation in this region of the corn belt appears to have selected for females that lay eggs in soybean fields. This adaptation is a significant threat to crop rotation as a pest management option for this pest; and (2) examining the role that environment and genetics play on prolonged dia-pause in northern corn rootworm eggs. Prolonged diapause was confirmed by my laboratory in populations of Illinois northern corn rootworms. This trait allows eggs to pass through two or more winters without hatching rather than the normal single winter pattern. Larvae from such eggs can cause damage to corn after a 1-year rotation with another crop. [back to top]


Nardi copy.jpg (11768 bytes)

Jim Nardi. In graduate school, I began studying the cell interactions involved in formation of Manduca wing patterns. These studies have led to my present investigations of neural pathfinding in the developing Manduca wing and the cell surface proteins involved in neural-substrate interactions. These proteins are expressed not only on wing cells during growth of axons and rearrangement of wing epidural cells but also at times when cells in other tissues are undergoing interactions and rearrangements. Each protein, therefore, appears to be multifunctional and used at different times in different tissues during the molding of an insect.

Recently I collaborated with Patrick Dowd and Robert Bartelt at the USDA station in Peoria to study the structure of a beetle gland that produces an aggregation pheromone. We were surprised to discover that the cells producing this pheromone turn out to be oenocytes. This is the first demonstration that oenocytes have been recruited to produce pheromone and that tracheole cells have been recruited as ductule cells to transport pheromone from oenocytes to spiracles. These poorly understood cells may be the source of pheromones in other species of insects.

In addition to our collaborative project dealing with the molecular and cellular basis of insect olfaction, Hugh Robertson and I have also been studying a novel surface protein that is not only very large and complex but that is also dynamically expressed in a variety of tissues. This protein which we have named lacunin has multiple domains that probably exert multiple effects on cell behavior. We have examined its role in remodeling of tissues during development and suspect that it also plays a pivotal role in the insect immune system. A grant from the USDA will enable us to investigate this possibility.

Working on a book about life in the soil for the last 5 years has provided me with many rewarding hours in the field, at the library, as well as at the microscope, examining and getting acquainted with some extraordinary creatures from samples of soil and leaf litter. Both the text and illustrations for the book are nearing completion; only a few more illustrations remain to be done.


Robert Novak. I received a Ph.D. in Entomology from UIUCin 1976; a MS in Biology, University of Utah (’71); and aBS in Biology, University of Southern Colorado (’69). I am a professional scientist, Illinois Natural History Survey; associate professor, UIUC and UIC with affiliate appointments in Entomology, Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences, Institute of Environmental Studies, and School of Public Health; and Director, Medical Entomology Program, Illinois Natural History Survey. I previously was a NIH postdoctoral associate, University of Notre Dame, and a research scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA, and San Juan, PR. I am a member of American Mosquito Control Association, and served on the Scientific & Regulatory Committee (chair, ’91-93), Resolutions Committee, and Aedes albopictus Committee. I received AMCA Presidential Citation, 1993, and was elected vice-president in 1994 and president in 1996. I am also a member of the Illinois Mosquito and Vector Control Association (president, vice-president, executive board), Entomological Society of America, Society of Vector Ecology, and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. I have served as a consultant for the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, USAID, and U.S. Army. I have worked in 12 countries in Central and South America, the Antilles, East and South Africa, and Europe.

My research interest is in medical veterinary entomology, especially the family Culicidae (mosquitoes) and the pathogens they transmit, as well as in urban/public health entomology. My laboratory has long-term field and laboratory investigations in mosquito ecology and genetics, insect pathology, toxicology and management, molecular and classical virology/bacteriology, and mosquito vector competence. Studies on other in-fectious pathogens of public health importance are also being investigated. [back to top]


Allan Ross. I am the bee research specialist (beekeeper) (www.staff. uiuc.edu/~ajross) for Gene Robinson (www.life.uiuc.edu/ entomology/faculty/robinson.html) in the Department of Entomology (www.life.uiuc/Entomology/index.html) at the University of Illinois (www.uiuc.edu).

I received my B.S. degree in agriculture from Western Illinois University in 1996. I graduated as an honors scholar in biology and with cum laude distinction. As an undergraduate, I had two publications with my advisor Dr. Joe Coelho. I am a member of Alpha Zeta, Beta Beta Beta, Sigma Xi, and a number of other organizations.

I am married to Ying Ross and have two children, Charity and Michael. I have a 2-year-old grandson, Christopher Michael Averill. I enjoy tree climbing, hiking, and nature (both plants and animals). My favorite pastime is riding my Honda vfr700r motorcycle (at least during our short riding season here in Illinois).

I hope to finish my masters degree in biology (in progress) and pursue a Ph.D. in biology within the next year or so. [back to top]


Daniel Schneider. I am an aquatic ecologist who works on the population and community ecology of invertebrates in rivers, lakes, and wetlands. My research involves using meta-population approaches to examine zebra mussel populations in the connected waters of Lake Michigan and the Illinois River; the effects of disturbance (flooding/drying) on invertebrate communities of temporary ponds and floodplain pools; and the environmental history of the Illinois River floodplain. I am a faculty member in the Department of Urban & Regional Planning and a scientist at the Illinois Natural History Survey.


David Seigler. I am a professor in the Department of Plant Biology. My research centers around the role of plant secondary metabolites in biological interactions. Much past work involves examination of cyanogenic glycosides in plants especially in Passiflora and in Acacia species. Other studies use secondary compound and molecular data to determine taxonomic and phylogenetic relationships of Acacia species. I teach Plant Secondary Metabolism (PLBIO 363), Plants and Their Uses (PLBIO 263), and with Dr. May Berenbaum, Chemical Ecology (BIOL 324).


Leellen (Lee) Solter. I am an insect pathologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey and am also an affiliate assistant professor with the departments of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences and Entomology. I recently began my second year in this capacity after working as a research scientist at INHS and obtaining my doctoral degree from Entomology at UIUC. Although I work with several groups of pathogens, my research primarily involves studies of microsporidia, which are single-celled, eukaryotic parasites. The majority of described species are pathogens of arthropods. Due to a lack of "critical mass" in the microsporidia research community, my work, as well as that of most researchers in the disci-pline, involves exploring a variety of areas including classification, epizootiology, physiology, and manipulation of the pathogens as biological control agents. My particular interest is in the development of microsporidia in host tissues and immune responses of nontarget hosts. Host specificity studies include laboratory assessment of both the physiological specificity of the pathogens and evaluation of the bioassay methods for relevance to ecological host range. To that end, I have been studying the host specificity of three species of microsporidia in the aboriginal range of both the gypsy moth host and these pathogens. My goal is to validate predictions made about ecological host ranges that were based on laboratory studies of these pathogens. I look forward to my first teaching assignment in the Department of Entomology in spring 2000. Start the millennium right—see you in Insect Pathology class!


Kevin L. Steffey. I am an extension specialist and professor of agricultural entomology in the Department of Crop Sciences at UIUC. I also have an affiliate appointment in the Illinois Natural History Survey. I received my BS in Entomology from Purdue University (’72), my MS in Entomology from the University of Missouri (’75), and my Ph.D. in Entomology from Iowa State University (’79). I began my career in Illinois in 1979 and have focused my educational and applied research programs on insect management in corn, alfalfa, and other field crops. My research includes studies of corn rootworm management and control, nonchemical methods of managing European corn borers (including transgenic corn), alfalfa insect management, and insect surveys of agricultural systems. I am author or co-author of 25 scientific publications, more than 20 invited publications (including four book chapters), and more than 175 extension publications. I have been active in the Entomological Society of America (ESA), having served on the Governing Board, and am currently contributing editor of "Postmarked: Extension USA" in American Entomologist. I received the ESA’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension in 1996, and served as President of the North Central Branch of the ESA in 1997-98. In the spring 1998, I was awarded one of three Paul A. Funk Recognition Awards, the most distinguished award given by the College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences. [back to top]


Dave Voegtlin. I have been working at the Illinois Natural History Survey since 1980 where my focus is on aphids. Recent work has been documenting aphids in select remnant prairies in Illinois and the impact of management techniques, specifically fire, on them. With this comes the discovery of new species records for Illinois as well as a few undescribed species. Over the years I have worked closely with plant pathologists at the University and Survey by providing determinations of potential aphid vectors in the crop/disease systems they are studying. The most recent of these is related to aphids vectoring cucumber mosaic virus to peppers in the southern tip of the state. Much of my taxonomic work has been related to agriculturally important species complexes. More comprehensive taxonomic work is focused on the genera Cinara and Mindarus. [back to top]


Walden.jpg (12794 bytes)

Kim Walden. Within the department, I’m one of the few "natives" of this area, growing up and later residing in two of the many small towns that dot the countryside surrounding Champaign-Urbana. I graduated from Millikin University, Decatur, IL, in December 1993 with a B.S. in biology. While fascinated by insects, I also wanted to incorporate molecular biology into my Master’s project, which I began in January 1994. I found the perfect balance in Dr. Hugh Robertson’s lab addressing a con-troversial issue that coincided with Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster film Jurassic Park.

Several scientific claims had been made that ancient DNA from amber-fossilized insects many millions of years old could be amplified by the polymerase chain reaction. If these claims were true, well preserved fossils would become a treasure trove to molecular biologists and others for answering ecological and evolutionary questions. Because these results had not been replicated independently in other laboratories, most scientists remained skeptical. I focused on one particular amber-fossilized insect, Proplebeia dominicana, a small bee, that was reportedly a source for successful PCRs. After many attempts to extract DNA, amplify it with PCR primers to a multi-copy gene, and obtain sequence, I was only able to identify obvious contaminating sources of DNA. To date, the initial claim has not been replicated, and many fossil DNA hunters have turned their attention to much younger and more reliable sources of "ancient" DNA.

I finished my M.S. in December 1995, and I currently serve as Dr. Robertson’s lab technician. Outside of the lab, I enjoy gardening and watching ruby-throated hummingbirds visit my feeders. I also decorate cakes as a joint hobby with my sister and spend time fishing with my husband during the summer.


Rick Weinzierl. I am an associate professor and extension entomologist in Crop Sciences; I am an affiliate in Entomology and also hold an appointment in the Illinois Natural History Survey. I have been on the faculty at Illinois since completing my Ph.D. in entomology at Oregon State University in 1984. I teach Introduction to Applied Entomology (CPSC/ENT 120) to undergraduates and Principles of Plant Protection (CPSC 310) to graduate students and advanced undergraduates (mostly agricultural majors). I conduct extension and applied research programs that cover insect management in fruit and vegetable crops and in livestock production. My interests include the biological control of muscoid flies, IPM implementation in fruits and vegetables, insecticide resistance, and even-handed communications about pesticides and food safety. I’m on the web at www.aces. uiuc.edu/CropSci/faculty/w/weinzierl/index.html.


Robert N. Wiedenmann. I arrived at the Illinois Natural History Survey in May 1994, and I am an associate professional scientist at the Survey. I received my Ph.D. from Purdue in 1990, where I worked on the searching strategy of a predaceous heteropteran insect. I then spent 4 years on a postdoc in the Biological Control Laboratory at Texas A&M, where I worked on hymenopteran insect para-sites of stem-boring pyralids.

My research interests are centered around biological control of insects and weeds. I am interested in foraging strategies of parasitic insects, especially the combinations of morphological and behavioral adaptations that make up those strategies; behavioral and physiological aspects of the ecology of insect parasites of lepidopteran stem borers; how combinations of ecological and physiological interactions among parasites, their hosts, and plant habitats affect host specificity and potential non-target impacts; and facultative phytophagy of predaceous Heteroptera, and how that affects using those predators in IPM strategies. I also have a project on biological control of an exotic weed, purple loosestrife, in northern Illinois, using two species of exotic chrysomelids. Every 2 years, I teach ENT 321, Biological Control of Pests. I am advising one Ph.D. student in Entomology, Marianne Alleyne, and one M.S. student in NRES, Rodrigo Velarde, and my lab has been home to more than a dozen interns from the Pan American School of Agriculture in Honduras. [back to top]


Ed Zaborski. I am a soil invertebrate ecologist in the Illinois Natural History Survey, Center for Economic Entomology. Research interests include using soil invertebrates as indicators for ecological assessment; role of soil invertebrates in ecosystem processes such as decomposition, nutrient cycling; effects of management and environmental factors on soil invertebrate community structure. Current projects include assessment of earthworm communities in relation to soil and management factors in Illinois agricultural ecosystems; the development of procedures for ecological assessment of soil habitats as part of the Illinois EcoWatch program; biological investigations of parasites and predators of earthworms; development of whole-farm nutrient budgets for differently managed farming operations in central Illinois.


Zangerl.jpg (13030 bytes)

Art Zangerl. One of the more notable events to take place in my life since the last newsletter was an episode of teaching. You see, I’m something of an anomaly in academic circles. Trained as a plant ecologist, but drawn to the study of plant-insect interactions, I’ve been happily ensconced within the friendly confines of this six-legged department for 15 years, not as a faculty member, but as a fancy sort of postdoc (senior research scientist is the official title). And, up until 2 years ago, the only teaching I had done involved a seminar or two (half semester affairs) and a few lectures. Due to faculty losses from another department, an upper level course in ecological genetics was in danger of not being offered. In a moment of temporary insanity, I was persuaded by May to undertake teaching this course, which would commence in 2 weeks! Not one to take the easy route, I was determined to create the course from scratch. Fortunately, that 2-week head start turned out to be sufficient, and while my nerves, by semester’s end, were seriously frayed, I’m happy to report that the students were satisfied and not visibly aware of my predicament.

On the research front, I can report some interesting findings. May and I continue to study coevolution between wild parsnips and parsnip webworms (surprise). Until last year, we had no idea just how precisely coevolved these two organisms could be. Comparing the frequencies of toxic furanocoumarin phenotypes in the parsnip populations with the frequencies of furanocoumarin-detoxifying phenotypes of associated webworm populations, we discovered a nearly perfect degree of matching. The findings were published in PNAS. In the future, we hope to manipulate frequencies of plant or insect phenotypes to determine how quickly each organism can track such shifts and to ultimately identify the genes responsible.

On a less entomological note, James Nitao, an alumnus of the department, and I recently published a paper in Evolutionary Ecology that provides what we believe to be the first real evidence of kin conflict in a plant. In short, it appears that wild parsnip offspring are able to manipulate their level of chemical defense while they are developing within the maternal inflorescence. The compelling part of this story is that the offspring only manipulate the level of defense on the outside of the fruit, not the level inside it. It turns out that parsnip webworms taste the outside of fruits and only then decide whether to consume the fruit. That there is a conflict between the interest of the offspring (self survival) versus the maternal plant (survival of as many offspring as possible) is evidenced by the fact that the maternal plant is in sole control of dispensing food to each offspring (endosperm) and does so equally. Thus, there is a mismatch between provisioning of resources and defense that likely results from parent-offspring conflict. [back to top]


Integrative Biology University of Illinois

Updated 12/09/99