The central focal point for research in the Young Lab relates to addressing two of the most fundamental questions people have when confronted by an unknown insect: “What is it” … and …” What does it do?” Our research objectives relating to the first question involve the disciplines of taxonomy and systematics. Here, our research is focused on creating the descriptive and nomenclatorial infrastructure upon which all other biological research is based. Our work may include immature as well as adult developmental stages, basic ecology and natural history, biogeography, and phenology. We call upon traditional insect anatomy and comparative morphology as well as modern phylogenetic methods of cladistic analysis. We have interfaced with colleagues both on the UW campus as well as at other institutions to employ molecular and population genetics methods.
Taxonomically, research in the Young Lab has concentrated largely – but not exclusively – on the immensely diverse order, Coleoptera: the beetles. Research projects have broadly addressed coleopteran taxonomy from statewide subfamilial, familial, and superfamilial surveys to worldwide, holistic taxon revisions; from descriptions of individual species new to science, to cladistic generic analyses of tribes. Many of our research projects have established linkages with other colleagues in the Department of Entomology, across the UW campus (e.g., Botany, Zoology, and the UW Arboretum), and state of Wisconsin (e.g., the Agricultural Research Stations, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin chapter of The Nature Conservancy). We have also actively collaborated with fellow insect taxonomists and institutions around the region, the country, and the world.