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    Ten years of Entomology and IPM - Sam and Simona's stories

    3 August 2023

    Throughout 2023, we have been marking more than a decade of Entomology and IPM courses at Harper Adams University.

    Our blogs were the brainchild of one of the first entomologists to join Harper Adams when a suite of dedicated Masters courses launched in 2012 -  Reader in Entomology, Dr Tom Pope.

    To mark a full decade of Entomology courses at the University, Tom decided to get in touch with some of their alumni to see where they are now – and what their studies have led to.

    Dozens of replies came in from across the globe, with alumni reminiscing fondly about their courses, the Harper Adams campus, and the University’s staff.

    Many cited the guidance of the late  Professor Emeritus – and leading entomologist -  Simon Leather.

    In the latest of our series of pieces, we catch up with Sam, who is applying his skills as an agronomist in Ireland, and Simona, currently working on her PhD in Kentucky in the United States.


    Sam Deane, who began his studies in the 2015/6 academic year


    Ten years of Entomology and IPM - Sam and Simona's stories


    What was it like studying at Harper Adams?

    I very much enjoyed studying at Harper Adams and have many fond memories of the university and the countryside of Shropshire around it -  I recall Professor Leather warning me when I accepted my place on the IPM course that it would be very rural - but to me that was one of the advantages of Harper Adams!

    Having studied agriculture in Ireland in Dublin, I found the diversity of people and backgrounds on the IPM and entomology masters helped open me up to other viewpoints, this has stood for me since then.

    The relationship between teaching staff and students at Harper Adams, even observing undergrads, is something that has also stuck with me. There is a great mutual respect and a back and forth that allows for greater student development. This may be to do with the size of Harper Adams and the ratio of staff to students: it is a great benefit.

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

    Since Harper, I have worked a variety of roles including an agronomist at Premium Crops in the UK where the skills learnt on the course really stood me in good stead. I found myself building and modifying agronomy programmes for a range of niche crops like linseed and canary seed. Currently I am working in Ireland as an agronomist in the biostimulant/crop nutrition area. Outside of work I am involved in the family farm where we are starting a new enterprise of hazelnut production.

    How did the first prepare you for the second?

    While pest control is not a major part of my job, occasionally I will come across issues which on the surface are pests or diseases - but the underlying issues is nutrition. The principles taught to me on the course help me get to the bottom of these issues. Hazelnut agronomy is almost unknown in Ireland so again the skills taught in Harper Adams  come into play as we try and build a program that works for us both economically and environmentally.


    Simona Principato - who began her studies in the 2018/9 academic year



    What was it like studying at Harper Adams?

    I did a Master in Entomology at Harper Adams and studying there was a wonderful experience under all points of view.

    Academically, the professors were extremely prepared, always available, and ready to help. The courses were well structured, with practical classes where we were able to readily apply the theory that we had learned in class, which helped me to learn even better. The study material given to us was very well made and so useful that I currently often look back at it when I need it.

    Socially, Harper Adams was a great environment. The social activities and events organized on campus gave me the chance to make lots of friends to whom I am still in contact with. While I was studying at Harper Adams, I also worked in the Canteen and in the café on campus.

    Studying, while also having to work, made me learn to manage my time very well to be able to successfully do everything with no stress at all, not even during the exams.  Also, the staff I used to work with was amazing which made the overall experience even nicer.

    At Harper Adams I also had the opportunity to volunteer in the farms on campus. I did milking cows, lambing, feeding calves. All these activities were new to me because I came from a city life in Italy and having these hands on experiences was very unique. I learned a lot!  Overall, studying at Harper was a fantastic experience that enriched my life so much.

    What is like doing what you're doing now?

    I’m currently a second year PhD student in Entomology at the University of Kentucky (USA).

    Here, I am fully immersed in research that is mainly focused on bed bugs and histamine production. I spend a lot of time in the lab doing experiments for my projects, writing up for publications, mentoring, and preparing presentations on the progress of my research in lab meetings, departmental poster sessions and conferences in the US and abroad.

    How did the first prepare you for the second?

    Harper Adams provided me with the skills and opportunity to be where I am now. During my Masters  in Entomology at Harper Adams, I was able to carry out my MS research project on bed bugs as a Visiting Scholar at The Pennsylvania State University (USA).

    Although I was distant, I was fully supported by my advisor at Harper  throughout the entire project until I graduated at my return to Harper. I believe that successfully completing my Masters, while also having the experience in a US university, helped me a lot to obtain the Research Assistantship for my PhD, especially because I already had experience with bed bugs which is the field I have been working on here in the US.

    Moreover, the courses I took at Harper provided me with a strong entomological background, knowledge in the field, research and writing skills that have been incredibly helpful for what I am doing now.

    Taking those courses also allowed me to waive half of the required credits for the PhD, which is now allowing me to focus most of my time on research.




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