Nicole Wonderlin is an entomology graduate student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Much of the following content was originally published on the CANR website.
I have always loved animals and conservation. Studying insects, especially pollinators, has allowed me to bridge these two interests. Pollinators are an abundant group of animals and they are the center of a myriad of conservation efforts. My summer roughing it in Missouri prairies, studying native bees with Alexandra Harmon-Threatt at the University of Illinois solidified my interest in pursuing pollinator research.
Currently, I am studying how moths contribute to pollination networks in urban environments. But I have always loved carpenter bees. They come in so many unique colors and patterns and their body size makes them easy to spot even from a distance. I especially love the Eastern carpenter bee because its hairs make it look like its wearing a little yellow vest.
There are more than a million species of insects, and they make up about 40 percent of all known species on Earth. Insects can be found in the snow, desert, underground and under water. Basically, they’re extremely abundant and all around us, so why not get to know them?
I have found volunteering with the MSU Bug House so rewarding. I love seeing visitors both young and old conquering their fears of cockroaches and spiders while learning about the fascinating world of insects.
My teaching assistantship, through Lyman Briggs College, emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and diverse representation in STEM fields, which is very important to me. Also, I love working with students who have a genuine interest in science and are motivated to learn as much as possible during their time at MSU.
As a naturally shy person, standing up in front of a group of students each week has definitely forced me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to deal with stage fright.
In a way, my love for the very things that often make others uncomfortable helped me overcome a fear I have experienced.
Research, teaching STEM and bugs. Three things I love.