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Brandon is snug as a bug in our lab

Posted: September 14, 2016

Brandon Wilt shares some thoughts on his summer working in the Tooker lab
The day Brandon got his lab coat was a good day!

The day Brandon got his lab coat was a good day!

It’s strange as we grow older how we find what interests us. A year ago I never would have thought that I would be an assistant in an entomology lab. At that time, I was still enrolled in the electrical engineering program. I found that electrical engineering wasn’t as interesting as I had previously thought, so I began to explore other STEM options. Even when I was young I had an interest in the environment, plants, animals and sustainability, and this interest encouraged me to decide that it was time for a change. The following semester, spring 2016, I began studying plant sciences and taking some entomology classes.

I never realized how interesting insects could be. They’re like tiny aliens with diverse behaviors having greater ecological significance than I initially believed. They can be quite unpleasant at times but always fascinating. During a lecture in one of my entomology classes Dr. Saunders advertised a job opening for an entomology internship. I thought that I may as well apply and see how it would go. It wasn’t long after I applied that I met Dr. Tooker.  He gave me a brief summary of some of the research projects taking place this summer and I was sold. Tooker Lab is a great environment with a very friendly atmosphere. I know I could go to anyone there with a problem and they’d be willing to help me.

Since I began I’ve been happy with the work I do and the environments in which it takes place. I find that I learn something new every day as well as find new perspectives on what I already know. Some of the work can be tiresome such as working in hot, humid weather on a sunny day sweeping alfalfa, counting slugs, and assessing corn plant damage. While other parts of the work can be monotonous such as data entry and some of the “arts and crafts” we do to prepare for experiments. I never knew there was so much work that went into these research projects. Regardless I enjoy it, and I find it extremely rewarding to be furthering knowledge in this field especially because it benefits the community by providing this knowledge to Penn State Extension. I have gained a great amount of hands on experience so far, and look forward to the experiences I have yet to encounter.