The University of Wisconsin Insect Research Collection (WIRC) plays an integral role in educational programs both within and outside the Department of Entomology. The WIRC provides direct support to all the general and systematics/taxonomy courses offered to undergraduates and graduate students by housing (in the instructional laboratories) and maintaining the WIRC Instructional Collections. These collections support courses such as Introductory Entomology (ENT/ZOL 302), Taxonomy of Adult Insects (ENT 331), Economic Entomology (ENT 351), Medical Entomology (ENT371), Taxonomy and Bionomics if Immature Insects (ENT 432), Studies in Field Entomology (ENT 468), and the Advanced Taxonomy series (ENT 701).
Along with the Zoology Museum and other natural history collections on campus, the Insect Research Collection serves as co-host of Zoology 405: Museum Studies. This course provides a general background of natural history museum work including, history, collections, field collecting, specimen preparation, ethics, laws and education. It also introduces students to a variety of natural science, humanities (as they apply to natural science), and library collections located on the UW-campus. Students in this course are required to serve an Internship in one of the collections and the WIRC usually accommodates 1-3 such students, providing a unique experiential, “hands-on” learning environment in entomological curatorial methods.
Some of the Museum Studies students typically stay on and join other entomology and non-entomology undergraduate majors to volunteer in the WIRC or enroll for college credit in our Special Problems & Directed Studies courses.
At any given moment, 4-6 graduate students are pursuing advanced degrees in systematic entomology here at the UW-Madison with projects directly related to investigating and documenting historical WIRC holdings, as well as augmenting the research collection with newly collected and curated material from research projects around the state, country, and world.