Season’s greetings!

Hello all! With Christmas, New Year, Hanukkah, and the Royal Ent Soc student essay deadline all over for another year, we would like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2020, especially for our 6-legged friends. We have been hard at work writing up assignments and experiments, ready to head back to lectures. We finished our year with a course Christmas party which was the perfect way to unwind after our modules!

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Exciting news! One of our cohort (Amy) ventured to Crewe in December to deliver a talk on pollinators. Below is a beautiful account of her talk: “The Terrifying Freedom of First Time Public Speaking”.

Picture this, you get an e-mail from a friend that studies abroad, someone has got in contact with her to do a talk about pollinators and insects at an open climate change panel. Can you take my place? She says. The first thought here is always “OH GOD NO I CAN’T SPEAK….IN FRONT….OF PEOPLE…..can I? NOPE I can’t”. You frantically message your closest friends:

“IVE JUST BEEN ASKED TO DO A POLLINATOR TALK IN FRONT OF 9 MILLION PEOPLE DO YOU THINK I SHOULD I GO FOR IT? WHAT IF I CAN’T? CAN I? WHAT DO YOU THINK?”

In which the reply is subsequently something along the lines of:

“OF COURSE YOU SHOULD! Firstly, you’re so dramatic, it definitely is not 9 million people you’ll be talking to and secondly, you know your stuff! You love insects!” quickly followed by a lot of “You go girl, you should do this, it’ll be great for you!”

I was in this situation a couple of weeks back, and I decided to accept. There was almost definitely the tossing and turning the night before, the hot sweaty palms on the train to the venue…and the constant reading of my power point making sure I’ve got the right stuff in my head. I was on my way to Crewe to talk on a panel of amazing women from all aspects of life, from the leader of the green party in that area, to an extinction rebellion activist…there was a lot of pressure to do well, not in everyone else’s eyes but in my own. The lead up to the talk was very humbling, I got to talk to all the women I’d be standing alongside, and they put my mind at ease!

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The venue and audience!

“Are you nervous?” – YES IM NERVOUS OH GOD, IM SO NERVOUS – “I’m a little nervous, this is my first talk in front of this many people” – “OH, don’t worry! In science and climate, you have to talk to people, gotta get that ball rolling, this is the right place for you”

The venue was a relaxed yoga centre (No shoes allowed, and I highly recommend where you can to practice without shoes, there’s a lot of freedom and grounding to it! A top tip in my eyes), I was not entirely sure of the amount of people that would be there, but all in total it was between 35-40 people. That was the most I’d ever seen in one place to listen to ME ramble on about insects.

I was fourth in the line up of speakers, and the women before me were phenomenal, all things climate crisis, economic crisis and ways forward, a whole pile of ideas and passion. It was finally my turn. I moved to the front of the room, my power point on display. The worst part is the quiet, and you can start to hear you heart in your ears and suddenly your mind goes blank. If you’re anything like me you’ll want to run at this point, or fake feeling ill. Don’t, take your time to recalibrate, have a good look at your first slide, and take a deep breath. I opened my talk with a bit of background about myself, and a joke. It went something like this:

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“Hello everyone, sorry, I am a bit nervous so I might be a bit shaky, but here goes. A little about myself, I did my undergrad at Salford University doing wildlife and practical conservation. At the end of my degree I decided to go on a birding holiday to Norfolk with friends, but suddenly realised I spent more time peering in to the undergrowth and looking for hidden insects than I was for birds, which lead me to this MSc, and now I look at bugs all day every day!” laughs really help to ease you, I really recommend starting it light hearted, run with it. I spoke about all the pollinators I could, highlighted the importance of looking out for insects in your garden and recording what you find. I spoke about projects I had been involved in that brings communities together to help increase pollinator numbers. Soon, I had been speaking for fifteen minutes. And I got an applaud at the end.

HURRAH. I did it! Was it so terrible? No, it was not. Was it terrifying? To begin with, slightly scary, but that eased. Could I do it again? Almost definitely.

My first public speaking event was a great one, I networked with some amazing women. I took questions and exchanged e-mails with people wanting help in their community. It was a great experience, and very freeing. Anyone that is thinking they can’t speak to the public is wrong, you most definitely can do it and it is a very rewarding experience! Being in science is all about speaking, its all about talking about the problems and the solutions. It’s talking about theories and data, its being excited about research.

So, if you ever get that “dreaded” e-mail, message, phone-call. Remember, they’ve contacted YOU for a reason, someone believes you can get the job done, and my advice would be to take it because every time you do it, it gets easier and it will get a little more exciting and a lot less scary.

Amy, you are definitely braver than me, but now you have good practice for upcoming group presentations!

Now, back to putting the finishing touches on our insect boxes ready to hand in on Thursday, and as always keep up to date with us on Twitter.

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Guthrie’s outstanding insect box for our Diversity and Evolution assignment

Elin

Welcome to the 2019/2020 blog!

Hello all! Welcome to the 2019/2020 MSc Entomology blog posts. We have settled into life in Harper Adams, and are half way through our second module (Biology and Taxonomy of Insects). Over the next few months we’ll introduce new students in various blog posts about our areas of interest or particularly notable adventures. We also have some exciting trips planned where we hope to share our love of insects! For now, a recap of the last few weeks.

We started life at Harper with a day of inductions and introductions; we met everyone on the course and learned where everything is and how it all works. After this, we had three days of Research and Information Skills, learning about the peer review process and how to critically review papers, as well as an exciting introduction to the statistical analysis software R (no sarcasm there I promise!). Friday was graduation of last year’s cohort as well as undergrads, and was a lovely sunny day of celebrations and certainly something to look forward to a year from now. From here we were set off to write our first assignment, and made good use of the week break to get started on this and explore the local area.

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The 2019 Postgraduate cohort. Most of us are the second row in, or third from the back!

Biology and Taxonomy of Insects has been a fantastic module to get our teeth (or mouthparts) into; from keying out Fimo clay larvae to dissecting out froghopper genitalia (to identify the species of course) we’ve had a wonderful week. Our week consisted of morning lectures for a general introduction to the Orders (Orthoptera, Hemiptera, and Hymenoptera), then an afternoon laboratory session to dissect and identify species within the order. We also had sessions on sampling methods and larval stage identification (and its difficulties). Our visit on Wednesday from Andrew Polaszek and his incredible knowledge of Hymenoptera certainly inspired us!

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Fimo larvae!

 

A small introduction to this years Royal Entomological Society scholars, as well as a huge thank you to the RES for their continued sponsorship, is in order. A full blog post will be written after the submission of their essays, but for now I asked for a brief factsheet from each person, here goes my attempt at formatting on WordPress for the first time!

Name: Jennifer Jones (@jendiberjones)
Undergrad degree: Ecology (Aberystwyth University)
Favourite insect: A tricky one. I think it could be the hairy footed flower bee as the males have a little white moustache and hairy arms too!
Hobbies: Reading, bio recording, some wildlife photography and knitting.
Future plans: Hopefully researching insects and the services pollinators supply and how to help them, or possibly independent ecological survey specialising in insects and museum curation.

Name: Charlie Rose (@CharlieMyrmRose)
Undergrad degree: Zoology (University of Derby)
Favourite insect: Ants (particularly Cephalotes specularis)
Hobbies: Reading, hiking, and board games with friends.
Future plans: Research, preferably working on ant ecology or biology.

Name: Louis Nicholls (Petition to get Louis on Twitter coming soon)
Undergrad degree: Biology (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Favourite insect: Praying mantises (order Mantodea) and of them, at the moment, the Tarachodid bark mantises. Mantids are beautiful, charismatic and diverse yet, unfortunately, they’re extremely poorly studied – I find this baffling considering the long-standing historical and cultural presence of the group worldwide.
Hobbies: Along with photography, I love martial arts and, most of all, catching and studying bugs (and I don’t just mean Hemiptera!)
Future plans: To add to the knowledge on Mantodea, with a focus on their ecology and an aim to explore whether they hold potential as tropical bioindicators.

Name: Graham Smith (@Ento_Bento)
Undergrad degree: Biology (University of Nottingham)
Favourite insect: Bloody-nosed beetle
Hobbies: Rambling, running, anime, drawing.
Future plans: Building confidence to potentially lecture in future, to share my enthusiasm with others.

Now, back to assignment writing and reading up on the orders we studied last week!

Elin (@elin_cunningham)