Articles

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A new home for an old Blog

Welcome to the new home of the ESC Blog!

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Nearly 350 million years ago, insects evolved the ability to totally transform themselves, and proceeded to take over the planet in a way that no other group of organisms has since. These new holometabolous species had stumbled upon the process of complete metamorphosis, a complex physiological process that is controlled by hormonal regulation, connected to outside stimuli, and constrained by natural selection, and which provided them the opportunity to further divide and conquer ecological niches while avoiding having adults compete directly with larvae for resources and space.

Today, insects with the ability to rearrange and reassign the majority of their cells into a new phenotypic expression are considered by many to represent a perfect allegory for rebirth, a new chance to make a difference, and a new opportunity to take on the world in ways they couldn’t before. While we here at the ESC Blog aren’t immune to allusions of grandeur and promises of world-changing impact, for now we’ll happily settle for a metamorphosis that results in a new look and home on the newly redesigned Entomological Society of Canada website, while we continue to provide a means for entomologists to share their passion, interests, and ideas in a public forum.

The ESC Blog debuted in June, 2012 at escsecblog.com, primarily because the old ESC website predated the very concept of a blog, and wasn’t technologically capable of hosting one. Now that the ESC homepage has been redesigned and updated thanks to Jordan Bannerman and the ESC Web Content committee, it only makes sense for us to make like a monarch and migrate, allowing us to better integrate with all of the other endeavours and efforts associated with the Entomological Society of Canada, and provide our authors and community better access to the ESC membership-at-large.

If this is your first introduction to the ESC Blog, thanks for joining us! While we work to continue bringing new content to the blog, why not poke through our archives (which we’ve fully migrated over to our new home) and see what we’ve been up to the last 5 years? Originally founded by Chris Buddle, Crystal Ernst, and Morgan Jackson as a means for entomologists with an interest in Canadian entomology to share what they were up to, the ESC Blog has provided an opportunity for entomologists and insect enthusiasts to contribute to a global conversation. Since 2012, we’ve welcomed Sean McCann as an additional editor, and published more than 200 articles that have been widely shared and read online, and we look forward to continuing to bring the inside scoop on insect research for years to come. We’ve covered everything from the pluralization of thrips, to an entomologist’s Nobel connection, and are thrilled to share new research from the next generation of entomologists.

If you’re interested in contributing to the ESC Blog, don’t hesitate to get in touch! We’re always looking for stories from the lab or field, updates on new and emerging research that you’re involved with (or that you just admire!), and the ways in which insects intersect with our lives. If you have photos, videos, or observations you’d like to share, graduate student or employment opportunities you need to recruit, or resources for your research that you need to find, we’re more than happy to help you share them with the entomological community in a timely manner. And if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow @CanEntomologist for up-to-the-minute updates from your society, as well as its members, editors, and publications.

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BugsR4Girls – Applied entomology with a twist

By B. Staffan Lindgren (@bslindgren)

I have always thought of myself as extremely fortunate and blessed to have made a career in entomology. The main reason is that 99.9% of all entomologists I have met and come to know over the years have been extremely nice people. Like most entomologists, I was interested in animals (which in my case included insects and spiders) at a young age. Many of my friends probably considered me a bit odd, but that’s as far as it went as far as I recall. Unfortunately, that is not always the case as this story reveals.

The other day I (along with a large number of people on Twitter) got to witness this kindness in action in a way that warms my heart. Nicole Spencer, a concerned mother, sent a request to the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC) regarding her young daughter, Sophia, who happens to love insects and wants to become an entomologist when she grows up. Sophia’s interest has somehow led to teasing and outright bullying in school, however. Fortunately Sophia’s mom understands the importance of nurturing her daughter’s interest, as did my mother even though I kept spiders in jars in my bedroom. Nicole’s and Sophia’s heartfelt letter was passed on to Morgan Jackson (@BioInFocus), who promptly posted a tweet on behalf of the ESC (@CanEntomologist) asking entomologists to help out. This tweet, which displayed the letter, included the hashtag #BugsR4Girls, and it quickly went viral.

facebook-shareWithin a very short period, Morgan had amassed a list of 100+ people willing to assist, along with a number of additional offers from non-entomologists. An offer even came from celebrity Dominic Monaghan, British actor and host of the television program Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan. You can get the gist of it all from the Storify that Morgan put together. The huge response led to interest from media, and Sophia and her mom were featured on Buzzfeed Canada, where the whole story is revealed. It hasn’t ended there. Another media story came from LFPress, and Sophia’s story even made the front page of the Toronto Star! In addition, numerous tweets have been posted with or without the hashtag, and above I have reproduced 3 (but there are so many more that you really need to look for yourself). I also posted about this on my Facebook Page, and the story was shared by others there. The comments from this one really says it all!

I mentioned non-entomologists. Here is an open letter to Sophia (called Beatrix in the letter because the author didn’t know her name at the time) from a science communicator.bug-chicks

On the one hand this is a story about a little girl who has big dreams. On the other hand it is a story about the future of women in STEM. Sophia has dreams about becoming a scientist, but both she and her mother are uncertain of what possibilities are out there. Many other young children are in the same boat, I’m sure. But the journey starts at home with parents encouraging children to believe that they can be or do whatever they set their minds to. Last Friday I listened to a CBC Radio show with Maria Issa, a Canadian scientist who started in life just like Sophia by daydreaming and watching lady bugs. In spite of the odds being stacked high against her success, she made it, but many are discouraged, which later affects their self-confidence. My experience is that there is no gender difference in ability – in fact women mature sooner and are more focused than men IMHO. And the increasing number of brilliant female scientists in entomology is a case in point. Luckily for Sophia, she has an encouraging mother. Whether or not she becomes an entomologist is not the point. The point is that she believes in the possibility.

llavanerasFor me, Sophia’s story is a wonderful, multifaceted teachable moment. With all her new friends, Sophia will do just fine. I wish her all the luck in the world.

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