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Women in Entomology
Jessica Linton

Today’s Women in Entomology Q&A features Jessica Linton, a terrestrial and wetland biologist with Natural Resource Solutions Inc.


Q: What are you studying or working on right now?

JL: I am the founder and coordinator of the Ontario Butterfly Species at Risk Recovery and Implementation Team, so a large proportion of my time right now is focused on developing and implementing recovery activities for butterfly species at risk in Ontario. This includes coordinating things like finding and applying for funding, permitting,  working with researchers to develop specific research projects, working with land managers to inform habitat restoration and management, and conducting field work. I am currently coordinating the proposed reintroduction of an endangered butterfly (Mottled Duskywing) to Pinery Provincial Park.

 

Q: What led you to your specific field of study or work?

JL: Since childhood, I have always been fascinated by butterfly biology and ecology. A job as an interpreter at the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory and two undergraduate co-op terms in Costa Rica at a butterfly education centre solidified my career direction for me.

Q: When did you first become interested in science and entomology?

JL: It’s been in my blood for as long as I can remember! I spent a lot of my days as a kid just being outside.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your research or work?

JL: I enjoy the flexibility and diversity that working as a consultant in the private sector affords. I bid on many contracts related to species at risk assessment and recovery planning, and work with academic collaborators on research and monitoring projects.

Q: What are your interests outside of academic life or work?

JL: Butterflies definitely cross over to my personal interests, and I enjoy observing and photographing them in the field. My children and I enjoy spending time outdoors, hiking, etc.

Q: What are your future plans or goals?

JL: To continue to build a tailor-made career that feeds my interests and keeps me engaged in my work. I would like to make a meaningful impact on butterfly species at risk recovery in Canada.

Q: Do you have any advice for young students that may be interested in science and/or entomology?

JL: If the job doesn’t exist, find a way to make it happen! Never underestimate the power of your enthusiasm for what you’re passionate about, and make an effort to network and build connections!

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Women in Entomology Series
Heather Coatsworth

This post is the first in a new series featuring interviews with Canadian women working in or studying entomology.


Left: Heather looking through one of their lab’s colony cages, which hold around 200 mosquitoes. Right: Heather blood feeding their lab’s mosquito colony. Since Aedes aegypti are extremely anthropophilic, the colony remains much healthier if fed human blood!

Q: What are you studying or working on right now?

HC: I am currently finishing up my PhD at Simon Fraser University. I use a mixture of molecular biology, bioinformatics and ecology to tease apart virus transmission dynamics in mosquitoes. Specifically, I am attempting to identify, characterize and mimic dengue refractory mechanisms in Aedes aegypti, with the ultimate goal of creating genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the burden of dengue.

Q: What led you to your specific field of study or work?

Heather solution solving with a good friend, Dr. Ramírez Martínez, from Universidad de Guadalajara.

HC: Growing up, I was curious about medical careers and had (still do!) an extreme interest in and fondness for animals. During that time, I also suffered from an irrational fear of blood (haemophobia), which put a large damper on continuing in a medical field. Sticking with my love for animals, I completed my BSc at the University of Guelph in Zoology and gained indispensable research experience in Dr. Alex Smith’s molecular ecology lab. I took some time off after completing my undergraduate degree and found myself drawn to the field of medical entomology. This led me to my current position at Simon Fraser University under the supervision of Dr. Carl Lowenberger, an entomologist and parasitologist with a keen interest in insect immunity.

Q: When did you first become interested in science and entomology?

HC: As a child I loved collecting insects and keeping them as short-term friends and pets. I loved how interconnected science was with nature and how my curiosity was rewarded and encouraged in science classes. My analytical, detail-oriented mind enjoyed the consistent process by which science was often conducted. Although I knew by the end of high school that I wanted to pursue a career in science, it took me many more years to fully realize my interest and passion for the field of entomology.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your research or work?

HC: I love the multidisciplinary nature of my work, the international collaborations it has spawned, and its larger connectivity to the public.

First meet and greet with the lab mascot, Acorn, Heather’s dapple wiener dog.

Q: What are your interests outside of academic life or work?

HC: I’m a sports enthusiast, both watching (I’m an obsessive Detroit Red Wings fan) and playing (ice hockey, tennis, and soccer). I love being in nature in any form possible – walking, hiking, camping, lounging etc. I also enjoy training my wiener dog, Acorn; listening to rap and hip-hop music; and drinking all the craft beers Vancouver has to offer.

Q: What are your future plans or goals?

HC: I would love to continue arbovirus genomics research in an academic environment and learn more about computer science and bioinformatics. I would also love to build and live in my own portable tiny house.

Q: Do you have any advice for young students that may be interested in science and/or entomology?

HC: Never stop exploring, reading, and asking questions. Join clubs and forums that interest you, and reach out to people who are doing things you think are cool and interesting. Keep an open mind, and take some time to get to know the insects around you.

A rare sighting of a formal mosquito.

 

All photos supplied by Heather Coatsworth.