The 2023 North Central Branch officer elections, conducted via electronic ballot, will open January 9, 2023, and close February 8, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time.
To see candidates, click to expand the categories below:
Bio: Mark Asplen is a Professor of Applied Ecology at Metropolitan State University, an urban comprehensive university in Saint Paul, MN. He earned his Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Arizona in 2007, under the tutelage of Dr. David Byrne. He then did a post-doc with Dr. George Heimpel at the University of Minnesota, during which time he earned the 2009 Postdoctoral Scholar of the Year award. Mark’s research interests lie in the integration of basic knowledge in evolutionary and behavioral ecology with past management practices. Specific foci include: (1) dispersal and migration, (2) life history evolution in parasitoid wasps, (3) invasion biology of spotted-wing drosophila, and (4) defensive endosymbiosis in aphids.
Candidate statement: As a professor at an urban comprehensive university, I feel that I would bring a different but complementary perspective to the presidency. As much of my workload involves teaching, I would strive for increased emphasis on effective pedagogy practices within the Branch, with the goal of making NCB a leader in this area. As one of the organizers of the 2022 meeting, I helped plan and execute the successful graduate student workshop in ground beetle taxonomy. This is a model I would bring to future meetings. Finally, my research interests in both basic and applied entomology are quite broad; as such, I would aspire to help build a meeting program that both builds on our strengths and broadens our scope.
Bio: Boris A. Castro has an agronomy degree from Honduras, B.S. from the Univ. of Florida, M.S. and Ph.D. in Entomology/Ag. Econ. from LSU and an MBA from California State. He worked in academia in IPM at Zamorano College, Honduras, and as Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist at LSU and Texas A&M. He joined Corteva Agriscience in 2008 with roles in CPR&D as Research Center Leader in California, Insect Traits Leader in South America, and sabbatical scientist in New Zealand. In his current role as Global Technical Educator, he works across disciplines to create e-courses, bulletins, podcasts, infographics, and animated videos for which he received five global interactive media awards. He has co-authored 23 refereed and +90 non-refereed publications, and +300 scientific and extension talks. His interests include advancing new solutions and developing learning strategies.
Candidate statement: I am a strong believer in science and technology to help overcome food production challenges while safeguarding environmental sustainability. I also believe science and new proven technologies should be communicated responsibly in a manner easy to understand. Modern communication tools and entomological advances generated within our Branch put us in a unique position to empower everyone with knowledge and technology and a stronger appreciation for sustainability. The North Central Branch is dynamic, its leadership is strong, its members are enthusiastic, diverse, and talented. These are key elements that allow our Branch to contribute and lead across disciplines. I am committed to creating new cross-disciplinary opportunities to nurture leadership within our Branch, promote collaboration, drive and diversify engagement, and communicate sustainable solutions.
Early Career Professional Committee Chair-Elect
- Sarah Elzay, Fort Hays State University
- Sajjan Grover, Bayer Crop Science
- Adrian J. Pekarcik, USDA-ARS
Bio: Sarah Elzay is a first-year assistant professor at Fort Hays State University in western Kansas. She moved to FHSU after completing a post-doc at Oklahoma State where she studied urban land cover and pathogen load in honey bees. She received her PhD from OSU where she studied the effects of mass flowering crops and land uses on native bees in the southern Great Plains. She recently received a grant to study efficacy of rangeland restoration on pollinator community recovery at the Smokey Valley Ranch, a restored ranch owned by The Nature Conservancy. Additionally she leads several student organizations and mentors undergraduate and graduate researchers.
Candidate statement: Serving in ESA has rewarded me with connections to students, academics, and professionals across the country and abroad. I have also found areas where, I believe, ESA can improve service to its members and the broader community. As an ECP committee chair, my goal would be to elevate the voices of ECPs working across diverse positions. Particularly, I hope to increase the representation of those that are working in teaching-based institutions and agency jobs with an emphasis on teaching and outreach. I also want to advocate for the recognition of ECPs, students, and professionals in awards and honors by increasing nominations and information on awards and honors for NCB members.
Bio: Sajjan Grover is currently employed as Scientist-II (Hemipteran discovery) in Bayer Crop Science. He did his Masters in Entomology from Punjab Agricultural University, India and finished his PhD in Entomology at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in 2021. During his PhD, Sajjan worked on molecular plant-insect interactions with Dr. Joe Louis. He has published 13 papers from his graduate work and few others in pipeline. His career goal is to contribute to the development of novel and sustainable pest management strategies. Sajjan has been heavily involved in organizing and participating in outreach events, department, and ESA service. Sajjan is currently an NCB representative to ESA Diversity & Inclusion committee, PBT representative to ESA science policy committee, and a ECP representative to ECP awards committee.
Candidate statement: I am interested in advocating for the next generation of scientists with much enthusiasm who are the future of entomology. Science is transforming every day and I strongly believe that the foundation of next generation scientists needs to be strengthened more than ever. Through interactions and feedback with ECPs, I will continuously strive to improve professional development opportunities for graduate student and ECPs that are crucial for their career growth. As a recent graduate and new hire in industry, I hope to identify the gaps, create, and participate in the much-needed career related opportunities in collaboration with ECP committee members while promoting diverse and inclusive space for everyone. I am excited to contribute to the success of the North Central Branch by promoting the careers of next generation scientists and foster interactions that span disciplines.
Bio: Dr. Adrian J. Pekarcik started as a Research Entomologist with USDA-ARS at the North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, SD, in May 2022. His research program focuses on the impacts of sustainable agricultural practices on soil invertebrate communities. He earned Bachelors of Arts degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2014. He briefly worked for National Park Service at Cuyahoga Valley National Park before pursuing his Master’s in Entomology from Auburn University in 2016. He earned his Doctorate in Entomology from The Ohio State University in May 2022 where he studied the ecology and management of the Asiatic garden beetle, a pest of corn in Ohio. He has won 12 awards related to entomology for speaking, debate, service, and outreach during his graduate studies, including OSU’s Graduate Associate Leadership Award.
Candidate statement: I want to serve as the North Central Branch Early Career Professional Committee Chair-Elect. Early career professionals (ECPs) are at a unique crossroads; we are freed from the requirements and deadlines of graduate school, but now must seek job opportunities, deal with financial uncertainty, and establish ourselves as entomologists. I recently joined the NCB ECP committee in August 2022 to learn more about the problems faced by ECPs and to increase opportunities for personal and professional development. As the NCB ECP Committee Chair-Elect, I will work closely with the current Chair to build upon current endeavors and identify the specific interests and needs of current and future ECPs. I will prioritize finalizing the NCB ECP bylaws, increasing opportunities for ECPs (e.g., symposia, webinars, networking), and communicating with student transition members.
Student Affairs Committee Chair-Elect
Bio: Jeff’s interest in insects began with his High School Garden. From here, he acquired his bachelor’s in Organic Crop Production from the University of Florida (UF). Afterward, he earned his master’s in entomology from UF, where he focused on thrips species in strawberry. This included studying the effect of insecticides on species composition and the production of simple dichotomous keys for species identification. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Panhandle Research and Extension Center (PHREC) in Scottsbluff, NE, focusing on various aspects of western bean cutworm management.
Candidate statement: Jeff is well-rounded with a background in the taxonomic, pest management, and social science aspects of entomology. He has previously served as the representative to the Graduate Student Assembly at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Furthermore, he was instrumental in organizing the first-ever student research fair at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. These experiences properly equip him to address the concerns of students. He is well-qualified and wishes to serve the students of the North Central Branch. His ultimate goal is to help foster networks that will be an essential part of the future careers of students.
Bio: Bethany Roberton is a current graduate research assistant at North Dakota State University (NDSU) pursuing her PhD in Entomology. Before attending NDSU, Bethany graduated with her MS degree in Biology from Emporia State University in 2021 and her BS degree in Biology and Wildlife Conservation & Management from Missouri Western State University in 2017. Bethany specifically researches pollinator conservation practices in managed landscapes as well as floral resource quality and the influence of decaying matter on insect communities. Bethany has presented her research at several conferences and meetings including the ESA North Central Branch Meeting, the Natural Areas Association Meeting, and the North Dakota Chapter of the Wildlife Society Meeting. Additionally, Bethany has received the Beatty-Munro Award in Entomology from NDSU and the Knipling Scholarship Enhancement Award.
Candidate statement: I am interested in serving in this position because I am passionate about student involvement within professional organizations and, I believe this position would allow me to facilitate connections with other students while also giving me leadership experience. If elected, I would like to establish set meetings for the Student Affairs Committee, delegate clear roles to student officers, promote activities that members are interested in both within the NCB annual meeting and outside of it, and advertise the annual meeting to entomology students. I want the SAC to create a welcoming experience that supports the NCB as well as creates connections amongst different universities and research projects.