Undergraduate Opportunities & Former Greats

Undergraduate Opportunities

Beetle_dispersal_projectUndergraduates participate in all phases of our research.  Over the years about 200 students have worked either as field or lab technicians, or conducted independent projects.

Working as a technician provides an opportunity to gain experience in a research setting, interacting closely with fellow undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral associates.  We place a high degree of confidence in our undergraduate helpers, which provides them with a good deal of independence and responsibility.  Depending on their interests, various students prefer either field or lab work, and seasonal or year-long projects.

Some students enjoy taking on Independent projects for which they are in charge.  Over the years, dozens have taken advantage of this opportunity.  Some have done so through programs such as NSF REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates), HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute), Capstone ExperiencesHilldale Fellowships, and for-credit Independent Studies.  Often students work first as an undergraduate technician, and then approach me about doing an independent study.  Usually, such a student is paired with a graduate student or postdoctoral associate as a close partner.  And in some cases a student who knows they will soon be entering our lab as a grad student will first work as a summer technician to become acquainted with the system in which they will work, make preliminary observations, and locate study plots to get a head start on their own project.

If you are interested, please contact me at raffa@entomology.wisc.edu.  Send your cv (please name it yourname.cv.doc) that includes your pertinent course work, job experiences, and references with contact information.

Megan_Fork_Kat_Molter
Mike_Komp_Michelle_Jordan
 
Student Yr. Project Current or Next Position
Kristen Green 1999 Effects of Bt on nontarget Lepidopt. Physician
Nichole Broderick 1999 REU, bark beetle behavior Postdoctoral Associate
Adam Ray 1999 REU, bark beetle-fungal interactions Grad School, Univ. ID
Jaqueline Redmer 2000 REU, bark beetle pop. dynamics Physician
Greg Richards 2001 Fungal associates of bark beetles Ph.D, UW. Microbiol
Jason Ludden 2001 UW Intern: Invasive root weevils Instructor, Univ Nev-R
Rebecca Hoffman 2002 Capstone Exp: Public outreach WI Dept. Agriculture
Eva Lewandowski 2002 Reproductive biology of I. pini MS, Univ. Minn.
Kristina Hintz 2003 Capstone Exp: Chem. Ecology Grad. Sch., Biochem, Univ. Birm.
Ben Burwitz 2003 Microbial symbionts of I. pini MS, Univ. Minn
Jacob Frie 2003 Capstone Exp: Insect feeding beh Completed BS
Adam Ridley 2004 REU, Vegetation dynamics Completed BS
Katrien Werner 2004 REU, Insect biodiversity Completed BS
Robert Murphy 2004 Capstone Exp, Forest processes WI DNR
Michelle Preston 2004 Stat. analysis of lab choice assays Pharmacist
Matt Evans 2004 Responses to host semiochemicals Completed BS
Eric Vasquez 2004 Effect of host chemistry on Bt MS, UW-Milw
Evan Whalen 2005 Bark beetle-microbial interactions Scientific Protein Labs, Inc.
Nichole Johnson 2005 HHMI Gypsy Moth Microbial Community Completed BS
Charmaine Jacobe, 2005 HHMI Gut bacteria of emerald ash borer Completed BS
Elliot Saperstein 2005 HHMI Symbionts of spruce beetles Completed BS
Matt McMahon 2006 HHMI Role of gut bacteria in Bt toxicity Grad School, UW Micro.
Megan Fork 2007 Hilldale Fellowship Bark beetle-host interactions Completed BS
Katherine Molter 2007 Bark beetle-fire interactions Completed BS
Eric Wittall 2008 REU Bark beetle population dynamics Completing BS
Justin Berg 2008 REU Ticks in gaps created by bark beetles Completing BS
Michelle Jordan 2008 Hilldale Fellowship Invasive weevils Grad School, Oregon SU

Publications

A number of students who performed independent studies have published their work in scientific journals, either by itself or as part of a larger project.  They also give presentations at scientific meetings, before professional groups such as the US Forest Service or the Wisconsin Dept. Natural Resources, and at our own lab meetings.   This provides them with the visibility and networking that help open employment and graduate school opportunities.  Some examples where techs have been included in publications are below:

Raffa, K.F., & G.L. Lintereur.  1988.  New host record and developmental notes on the Pear Slug,Caliroa cerasi (L.), feeding on Cotoneaster and Chaenomeles species.  The Great Lakes Entomol.  21: 75-79.

Stavney, E.A., & K.F. Raffa.  1988.  Collection method of New York Weevil, Ithycerusnoveboracensis, adults.  Entomol. News.  99:164-166.

Raffa, K.F., & R.J. Steffeck.  1988.  Computation of response factors for quantitative analysis of monoterpenes by gas liquid chromatography.  J. Chem. Ecol.  14:1385-1390.

Hunt, D.W.A., G. Lintereur, & K.F. Raffa.  1992.  Rearing methods for Hylobius radicis and Hylobiuspales (Coleoptera: Curculionidae).  J. Econ. Entomol.  85: 1873-1877.

Reich, P.B., M.B. Walters, S.C. Krause, D.W. Vanderklein, K.F. Raffa, & T. Tabone.  1993.  Gas exchange and growth of red pine seedlings and trees one year after defoliation.  Trees – Structure and Function.  7: 67-77.

Hunt, D.W.A., G. Lintereur, S. Salom, & K.F. Raffa.  1993. Performance and preference of Hylobiusradicis Buchanan, and H. pales (Herbst) (Coleoptera:Curculionidae) on various Pinus species.  Can. Entomol. 125: 1003-1010.

Redmer, J. S., K. F. Wallin, & K. F. Raffa. 2001. Effect of host tree seasonal phenology on substrate suitability for the pine engraver, Ips pini (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) Implications to population dynamics and enemy free space J. Econ. Entomol. 94: 844-849.

Erbilgin, N., A. Szele, K.D. Klepzig, & K.F. Raffa.  2001. Trap type, chirality of alpha-pinene, and geographic region affect sampling efficiency of root and lower stem insects in pine.  J. Econ. Entomol. 94:1113-1121.

Aukema, B.H., Richards, G.R., Krauth S.J. & K. F. Raffa. 2004. Species assemblage arriving at and emerging from trees colonized by Ips pini in the Great Lakes region: Partitioning by time since colonization, seasonal, and host species.  Ann Entomol. Soc. Amer. 97: 117-129.

McMahon, M.D., Aukema, B.H., Nordheim E. V. & K. F. Raffa. Proximity to attractive treatments in behavioral choice tests:  Testing a component of field assays with implications to statistical analysis. In prep.

Delalibera I., Jr., Vasanthakumar, A., Burwitz, BJ, Schloss, PD, Klepzig, KD, Handelsman J & K.F. Raffa, 2007. Composition of the bacterial community in the gut of the pine engraver beetle, Ips pini(Say) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae). Symbiosis.  47: 93-104.

Coyle, D, Jordan, M, Mattson, W, & KF Raffa. Host preferences on invasive root weevils impacting northern hardwood forests.  In prep.

Onward ….

Some students who have worked as undergraduate technicians have gone on to earn graduate and professional degrees, in my lab and elsewhere.  Some examples are below.

StromCodella300wBrian Strom worked mostly on induced responses to sawfly defoliation, and is one of our founding Hall of Famer’s.  He worked closely with Steve Krause among others, and was an all-around go-to guy.  Brian then earned a MS at NCSU with Fred Hain, and then worked on a Ph.D. at LSU with Rick Goyer while working for the US Forest Service.  He is now a Research Scientist with the US FS in Pineville, under the supervision of Kier Klepzig, another alum.

jenniferGroetz300wJennifer Groetz worked with us for several years, mostly helping me with resin flow assays, fungal inoculation, and beetle caging experiments in the lower crowns of red pine trees.  Our best tree climber, Jennifer then received her MS at the UW-Madison Dept. of Wildlife Ecology, where I had the pleasure of serving on her committee.

hoffsteterBarkBeetleCrewRichard Hofstetter worked with us for several years, mostly helping me in the field on pine engraver-clerid behavioral studies, and on devising methods for depleting tree defenses via mass inoculations.  He also worked extensively with Chip Codella with sawfly ovipositional studies, Lynne Rieske with thrips sampling, and Shahla Werner with ground beetle sampling.   Rich was remarkable both for remaining with me after I smashed the side view mirror backing up the truck on our first field outing, and for his ability to smell lanierone.  He then did his MS with me on host selection behavior of a gypsy moth egg parasite, Ooencyrtus kuvanae.  From there he worked for USDA in Washington State with Pete Landolt (a fellow Cougar), and then did a Ph.D. at Dartmouth with Matt Ayres and Kier Klepzig (a fellow alum).  He is now an Asst. Prof. at Northern Arizona University.

Nichole Broderick worked in our lab on three projects, sampling Wisconsin gypsy moth populations for Entomophaga maimaiga and Nuclear polyhedrosis virus, bark beetle behavioral assays, and a joint study with Jo Handelsman (UW-Plant Path) on synergism of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) activity against gypsy moth.  The latter project became the basis for Nichole’s MS program, a joint project with myself in Ent and Jo Handelsman and Bob Goodman in Plant Path, on gut symbionts of the gypsy moth.  It further extended into her Ph.D. program, a joint project with myself in Ent and Jo Handelsman in Microbiology.  Nichole published a paradigm-shifting paper in the Proc. National Academy of Sciences on how enteric gut bacteria are essential for the toxicity of Bt.  She has also gone on to mentor a number of undergraduate students, including one on an HHMI  project, Matt McMahon who also started as a technician in our lab working on bark and root beetles.

Greg Richards worked on the chemical ecology of bark beetle – predator interactions with Brian Aukema on a dream-team field crew that also included Becky Hoffman Gray (below).  Greg also did a project on pathogens of spruce budworm.  He served as our lab director for two years and showed enormous organizational skills.  Greg was awarded a prestigious fellowship to attend graduate school in Bacteriology at UW-Madison.  He is now investigating bacteria-insect-nematode interactions under the direction of Heidi Goodrich Blair.

hoffmanRichardsLudden300wBecky Hoffman Gray started with us as a volunteer, helping Kirsten Haberkern make educational display cases of gypsy moth.  Based on her stellar performance, we quickly hired her, and she joined Brian’s dream-team on bark beetle – predator interactions.  She worked with Brian for three years.  After earning BS degrees in both Forest Ecology & Management and Entomology, including a Capstone Experience with our Extension Diagnostician Phil Pellitteri, Becky worked for a pheromone company in Oregon for one year.  She returned to Madison and did her MS with me on population dynamics of gypsy moth in pre-outbreak stands.  She now works for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture on their Invasive Insects program, including Emerald Ash Borer.  She continues to actively collaborate us and the US Forest Service on gypsy moth population dynamics, as part of a long-term project.

cardoza-group285wMatt McMahon worked for us both as a technician, sampling insects in declining red pine stands, and doing a special project on statistical analysis of behavioral choice test.  His special project involved a collaboration with Rick Nordheim in Statistics and Brian Aukema, then in my lab and now in BC.  He holds the lab record for most badly stuck-in-the-mud research vehicle, barely edging out grad student Shahla Werner.  Matt then started working as a student hourly on Nichole Broderick’s project on gypsy moth-Bt-gut bacteria interactions.  He became so enthused that he did an independent study as a HHMI student, working closely with Nichole and Jo Handelsman.  He demonstrated that the mechanism Nichole demonstrated with gypsy moth was actually widespread throughout Lepidoptera.  Based on his experiences in our Symbiosis collaboration, Matt decided to enter graduate school as a Bacteriology doctoral student at UW-Madison, which he has now completed.

Michelle_Jordan_Allyson_CzechowiczMichelle Jordan first worked as a student hourly in our lab on two projects, invasive root weevils affecting northern hardwood forests, and bacterial symbionts of bark beetles.  She then did an independent study funded by a Hilldale Fellowship, studying the relationship between host plant preference and seasonal phenology in invasive root weevils.  She presented this work in several venues.  Michelle then worked in our lab as a Research Intern, focusing mostly on tripartite interactions among bark beetles, fungi, and bacteria.  Michelle benefited from close mentorship by Dave Coyle and Aaron Adams.  She was clearly a ‘Hall of Famer’.  Michelle was offered graduate assistantships by several universities, and chose the program in aquatic microbiology at Oregon State University.

At least two of our alums have since become veterinarians.  Laura Kellner  helped me with root weevil assays in red pine stands.  Patty Ramirez worked year- ‘round on bark beetle host acceptance assays with Kimberly Wallin.  She generated an enormous data set that was characterized by both high replication and meticulous quality.

Two of our alums have since become physicians or are in medical school.  Jackie Redmer worked on a variety of our bark beetle projects.  She then undertook an independent study on how the host nutritional quality of red pine phloem tissue for pine engravers varies phonologically. She worked especially closely with Kimberly Wallin on this.  This led to a first-authored paper.  After graduation, Jackie joined the Peace Corps, and worked in a former Soviet Republic.  She then rejoined Kimberly Wallin in Utah, where she worked for the USDA Forest Service in Barb Bentz’s program.  She continued working with Barb after Kimberly moved to Oregon.  After finishing their project on how fungus-bark beetle-lipid interactions interact with cold hardiness, Jackie entered the UW-Madison medical School.  Kristen Green worked on non-target effects of Bacillus thuringiesis.  This provided very valuable data for the Wisconsin Dept. Agriculture and Wisconsin Dept. Natural Resources for their gypsy moth suppression program.  Kirsten then worked in a pharmacy, and entered UW-Medical School where she earned her MD.

At least two of our alums have since become veterinarians.  Laura Kellner  helped me with root weevil assays in red pine stands.  Patty Ramirez worked year- ‘round on bark beetle host acceptance assays with Kimberly Wallin.  She generated an enormous data set that was characterized by both high replication and meticulous quality.

Two of our alums have since become physicians or are in medical school.  Jackie Redmer worked on a variety of our bark beetle projects.  She then undertook an independent study on how the host nutritional quality of red pine phloem tissue for pine engravers varies phonologically. She worked especially closely with Kimberly Wallin on this.  This led to a first-authored paper.  After graduation, Jackie joined the Peace Corps, and worked in a former Soviet Republic.  She then rejoined Kimberly Wallin in Utah, where she worked for the USDA Forest Service in Barb Bentz’s program.  She continued working with Barb after Kimberly moved to Oregon.  After finishing their project on how fungus-bark beetle-lipid interactions interact with cold hardiness, Jackie entered the UW-Madison Medical School, from which she is now a graduate.  Kristen Green worked on non-target effects of Bacillus thuringiesis.  This provided very valuable data for the Wisconsin Dept. Agriculture and Wisconsin Dept. Natural Resources for their gypsy moth suppression program.  Kirsten then worked in a pharmacy, and entered UW-Medical School where she earned her MD. Laura Kellner helped me with root weevil assays in red pine stands. She then went to vet school. Patty Ramirez worked year- ‘round on bark beetle host acceptance assays with Kimberly Wallin. She generated an enormous data set that was characterized by both high replication and meticulous quality. Like Laura, Patty then went on to vet school. Eric Withall worked on the biodiversity of beetles in declining red pine stands. He worked closely with Prof. Dan Young. He was a unique individual in being both a biology and pre-law major. He’s now a law student at John Marshall Law School.

  Boland_KellyKyle_Buecker
 

Selected Awards to Undergraduate Students under my Supervision

  • Fork, Megan. 2007.  Hilldale Fellowship. $4000.
  • Green, Kristen 1998. UW Biology Center Independent Research. $2,000. Nontarget effects of Btk
  • Jacobe, Charmaine. 2005. Howard Hughes Medical Inst. Gut bacteria Emerald Ash borer
  • Johnson , Nichole. 2005. Howard Hughes Medical Inst. Gypsy moth gut bacteria
  • Jordan, Michelle. 2008. Hilldale Fellowship. $4000.
  • McMahon, Matt. 2006. Howard Hughes Medical Ins. Lepidoptera gut bacteria – Bt interactions.
  • Ray, Adam 2000. NSF REU
  • Saperstein, Elliot. 2005. Howard Hughes Medical Inst. Nematodes /spruce beetles
  • Szele, Alex, Howard Hughes Scholars Fellowship. 1996. $4000. Chemical ecology of root herbivores
  • Vershay, Robyn . 2006. NSF REU

Undergraduate Worker Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame Criteria:
  • Worked in Lab as an Undergrad
  • Left Lab at least 2 field seasons ago
  • In Top 10% of all Workers (Current Total) = @200

Brian Strom worked mostly on induced responses to sawfly defoliation, and is one of our founding Hall of Famer’s.  He worked closely with Steve Krause among others, and was an all-around go-to guy.  Brian then earned a MS at NCSU with Fred Hain, and then worked on a Ph.D. at LSU with Rick Goyer while working for the US Forest Service.  He is now a Research Scientist with the US FS in Pineville, under the supervision of Kier Klepzig, another alum.

Jennifer Groetz worked with us for several years, mostly helping me with resin flow assays, fungal inoculation, and beetle caging experiments in the lower crowns of red pine trees.  Our best tree climber, Jennifer then received her MS at the UW-Madison Dept. of Wildlife Ecology, where I had the pleasure of serving on her committee.

Richard Hofstetter worked with us for several years, mostly helping me in the field on pine engraver-clerid behavioral studies, and on devising methods for depleting tree defenses via mass inoculations.  He also worked extensively with Chip Codella with sawfly ovipositional studies, Lynne Rieske with thrips sampling, and Shahla Werner with ground beetle sampling.   Rich was remarkable both for remaining with me after I smashed the side view mirror backing up the truck on our first field outing, and for his ability to smell lanierone.  He then did his MS with me on host selection behavior of a gypsy moth egg parasite, Ooencyrtus kuvanae.  From there he worked for USDA in Washington State with Pete Landolt (a fellow Cougar), and then did a Ph.D. at Dartmouth with Matt Ayres and Kier Klepzig (a fellow alum).  He is now an Asst. Prof. at Northern Arizona University.

Patty Ramirez worked year- ‘round on bark beetle host acceptance assays with Kimberly Wallin.  She generated an enormous data set that was characterized by both high replication and meticulous quality.  She is now a veterinarian in her native Texas.

Jackie Redmer worked on a variety of our bark beetle projects.  She then undertook an independent study on how the host nutritional quality of red pine phloem tissue for pine engravers varies phonologically. She worked especially closely with Kimberly Wallin on this.  This led to a first-authored paper.  After graduation, Jackie joined the Peace Corps, and worked in a former Soviet Republic.  She then rejoined Kimberly Wallin in Utah, where she worked for the USDA Forest Service in Barb Bentz’s program.  She continued working with Barb after Kimberly moved to Oregon.  After finishing their project on how fungus-bark beetle-lipid interactions interact with cold hardiness, Jackie is now a MD.

Nichole Broderick worked in our lab on three projects, sampling Wisconsin gypsy moth populations for Entomophaga maimaiga and Nuclear polyhedrosis virus, bark beetle behavioral assays, and a joint study with Jo Handelsman (UW-Plant Path) on synergism of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) activity against gypsy moth.  The latter project became the basis for Nichole’s MS program, a joint project with myself in Ent and Jo Handelsman and Bob Goodman in Plant Path, on gut symbionts of the gypsy moth.  It further extended into her Ph.D. program, a joint project with myself in Ent and Jo Handelsman in Microbiology.  Nichole published a paradigm-shifting paper in the Proc. National Academy of Sciences on how enteric gut bacteria are essential for the toxicity of Bt.  She has also gone on to mentor a number of undergraduate students, including one on an HHMI  project, Matt McMahon who also started as a technician in our lab working on bark and root beetles.

Greg Richards worked on the chemical ecology of bark beetle – predator interactions with Brian Aukema on a dream-team field crew that also included Becky Hoffman Gray (below).  Greg also did a project on pathogens of spruce budworm.  He served as our lab director for two years and showed enormous organizational skills.  Greg was awarded a prestigious fellowship to attend graduate school in Bacteriology at UW-Madison.  He completed his Ph.D. on bacteria-insect-nematode interactions under the direction of Heidi Goodrich Blair.

Becky Hoffman Gray started with us as a volunteer, helping Kirsten Haberkern make educational display cases of gypsy moth.  Based on her stellar performance, we quickly hired her, and she joined Brian’s dream-team on bark beetle – predator interactions.  She worked with Brian for three years.  After earning BS degrees in both Forest Ecology & Management and Entomology, including a Capstone Experience with our Extension Diagnostician Phil Pellitteri, Becky worked for a pheromone company in Oregon for one year.  She returned to Madison and did her MS with me on population dynamics of gypsy moth in pre-outbreak stands.  She now works for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture on their Invasive Insects program, including Emerald Ash Borer.  She continues to actively collaborate us and the US Forest Service on gypsy moth population dynamics, as part of a long-term project.

Michelle Jordan worked on two projects, invasive root weevils affecting northern hardwood forests and microbial symbionts of bark beetles. She did it all, from feeding assays to molecular analyses to assisting whoever needed a hand. Michelle won a prestigious Hilldale Undergraduate Fellowship, working closely with Dave Coyle. She is now a graduate student studying aquatic parasitology at Oregon State University.