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Entomological essays secure RES prizes for Harper Adams students

Posted 29 April

“I am incredibly pleased to see two of our entomology students secure top three positions in the prestigious Royal Entomology Society essay competition."

a composite picture of Ashley Dear, left, and Amy Farrow, right, who have each won prizes in this year’s RES Student Awards.

Ashley Dear, left, and Amy Farrow, right, have each won prizes in this year’s RES Student Awards.

Students from Harper Adams are celebrating after securing two of the top three places in The Royal Entomological Society’s 2021 RES Student Awards.

The annual competition challenges students to write an 800-word essay in English, on an insect-related topic of interest to the general public – and this year, Harper Adams Masters students Ashley Dear and Amy Farrow secured second and third place for their work.

MSc Entomology student Ashley, who won a £300 prize, wrote about how bio-mimicry of insects is transforming human approaches to medical injections, post-pandemic parcel delivery, and LED bulbs in his essay - 'Bio’-Mimicry Is the Highest Form of Flattery.

He said: "I really enjoyed taking part in this competition, it was a fun and different way of being able to talk about a subject I find very interesting. To have been selected for second place is so exciting - and has given me the confidence to share my work with anyone who will read it."

Meanwhile fellow MSc Entomology student Amy’s third-placed essay - ‘Choose your own evolutionary pathway’ – a brief exploration of the evolution and diversity of four major insect orders -  mimicked ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books to take its reader on a whistle-stop tour of insect evolution.

Amy, who wins a £200 prize for her work, said: "I entered this competition just for fun, so placing even third was excellent news. I think this competition is a great way for people to explore communicating science for a wide range of audiences aside from academia and I really enjoyed composing my piece!"

Professor Adam Hart, RES Trustee and Chair of the RES Outreach Committee, and Dr Victoria Burton, Outreach Committee member, oversaw the judging of entries.

Professor Hart said: "As usual the standard was very high, giving us a real judging challenge. This year, lots of entries explored different ways to present "essays", and there were some very imaginative approaches that were able to combine solid scientific material with inspired science communication.

“It is reassuring to see such up and coming talent for entomological communication!"

And Dr Burton added: "I appreciated how many drew on their own experiences with insects in nature and related that to their personal wellbeing.”

The students have also been praised by staff at Harper Adams.

Dr Joe Roberts, Lecturer in Entomology and Integrated Pest Management, said: “I am incredibly pleased to see two of our entomology students secure top three positions in the prestigious Royal Entomology Society essay competition.

“As always, the standard is very high and the students should be very proud of their efforts!”

Simon Ward, RES CEO said "The Royal Entomological Society has been very impressed by the 2021 Student Award submissions.  The Society is keen to support the students either studying entomology or who have an interest in insect science.  We now offer free full membership to students and for their first year and then offer significant reductions in subsequent years. 

“Members receive our quarterly magazine Antenna, have the opportunity to attend our ENTO conference at no charge and can take part in a number of events with valuable opportunity to network. 

The three essays will be published in the Society's membership bulletin Antenna later this year.

The 2022 writing competition is open for entries from students anywhere in the world, the closing date for the Student Award is December 31.

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