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    Ten years of Entomology and IPM - Katy and Dave's stories

    5 January 2023

    In 2022, we marked ten years of entomology and IPM courses at Harper Adams.

    To mark the decade, Reader in Entomology Dr Tom Pope – part of the original team of entomologists who joined Harper Adams when a suite of dedicated Masters courses launched in 2012 - decided to ask some of the many alumni of the courses about their memories of Harper Adams, their course – and what they are doing now.

    The response was overwhelming, with alumni from across their globe wanting to take part.

    Many spoke warmly of both their studies at Harper Adams, our campus, and in particular their lecturers – with many citing the impact, influence and knowledge of the late  Professor Emeritus – and leading entomologist -  Simon Leather.

    Many are now applying their knowledge in industry or pursuing their interests through further study in all corners of the globe.

    Following our introductory piece in our Advent calendar in December, we continue with our series of pieces catching up with some of our alumni and where they are now – with this second blog catching up with our alumni.



    Katy Dainton – who began studying in the 2013/14 academic year


    What was it like studying at Harper?

    My year studying at Harper was an enjoyable, but intense, experience.

    I had taken a year’s unpaid leave from my National Trust collections care job to do an MSc in entomological Integrated Pest Management. This was my first time studying science at university level, having previously undertaken a BA in Fine Art.

    I felt completely out of my depth for the first few weeks, but this was countered by the support I received from peers, lecturers and university staff.

    Studying entomology and IPM was eye-opening, I had no idea these tiny creatures were so varied and so fascinating! By Christmas I was hooked on entomology and had decided to change career, so it was also a life-changing year. 

    What is it like doing what you’re doing now?

    For the last seven years I have worked as a Research Entomologist at Forest Research’s Northern Research Station near Edinburgh.

    My job entails developing and testing monitoring and control methods for various insect pests that impact tree and forest health. My time is split between the office, lab and field depending on the focus of the work and the time of year – the summer months being busier with fieldwork.

    Although a lot of the research I do is based in Scotland or the UK more widely, I have also worked with European and north American colleagues. Research with overseas colleagues has tended to focus on understanding and mitigating potential threats to UK forests, such as the bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius).

    The role is busy, sometimes bordering on hectic, as I have multiple projects to juggle, although the variation also keeps it interesting.

    I really enjoy working in Scotland, in an applied pest management role that centres on the development of environmentally friendly approaches.

    How did the first prepare you for the second?

    Studying an MSc in Integrated Pest Management at Harper gave me a broad knowledge of entomology and provided me with the skills set required to successfully apply for an early career research post.

    During the MSc I gained valuable experience such as conducting literature reviews, statistically analysing data, scientific writing, knowledge and practical application of biological and chemical control methods, and insect identification and taxonomy.

    Undertaking a self-led Research Project was probably the most instrumental aspect of my MSc in terms of successfully finding a job in the sector. The opportunity to choose the topic of my Research Project meant I could tailor it towards my career aspirations.

    As such, I investigated the feeding preferences of a forest pest (the large pine weevil, Hylobius abietis), which proved invaluable in my subsequent career. The support I received from my Research Project supervisor, Professor Simon Leather, and the wider Harper team throughout my MSc helped me achieve an overall distinction and enabled me to embark on a career in forest entomology.


    Dave Stanford-Beale – who began studying in the 2014/15 academic year


    What was it like studying Entomology at Harper Adams?

    Studying entomology at Harper Adams was a blast; exciting and fast! It’s hard to believe that a one year course could fit in such a wide syllabus and such amazing quality content.

    What is it like doing what you’re doing now?

    I am a postdoc continuing in entomology, investigating thrips evolution and ecology.

    Every second is spent thinking about the many questions still left in our field and how we might be able to answer them. I have been teaching introductory entomology courses and try to channel the infectious ento-enthusiasm that Simon Leather and Tom Pope brought to teaching in 2014.

    How did the first prepare you for the second?

    The Harper Adams entomology course is unique.

    There is no other course that crams such a workload into the syllabus without crushing students. I, and many others, have tried to replicate this elsewhere but without the Harper Adams team it is quite impossible.

    Harper Adams University’s entomology team fostered a level of dedication and enthusiasm for entomology that has made my career a joy. The foundations taught by the entomology team have held true and supported me during my industry roles and PhD program abroad.

    Entomology at Harper Adams has a great reputation internationally, and whenever I say I did the course I get smiles and recognition.



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