College of Ag Student Featured in National Pest Magazine

UNIVERSITY PARK – A student in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences was recently featured in a national trade magazine after receiving the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) Minorities in Pest Management scholarship.

Alexis Barbarin, a doctoral degree candidate in the college’s entomology department, was featured in the June issue of Pest Management Professional as a pest management professional “Worth Watching” in the industry. Pest Management Professional is a trade publication geared toward the pest control specialist and is designed to educate them in pest detection and identification, treatment, and control methods. The magazine became aware of Barbarin and her research after she won the NPMA scholarship, which benefits minority students studying urban pest management, entomology, or related fields and who plan to enter the pest management industry.

Barbarin’s research focuses on bed bugs and their recent resurgence in urban areas. A native of New Orleans, Barbarin knew she wanted to do research on a pest whose control would help urban residents. “I stumbled upon bed bugs after realizing there hadn’t been much dedicated research conducted since the 1950’s,” she explained. Her goals include developing an urban integrated pest management curriculum for urban youth; developing a standard bed bug feeding protocol utilizing alternative blood sources; and identifying environmental cues that alert bed bugs to the presence of a host.

Barbarin chose Penn State due to its diverse faculty and research areas. “When I visited Penn State during a recruiting weekend, I got the impression the entomology department is very close knit, almost like it was one big family,” Barbarin said. “I felt very welcomed by both the faculty and the graduate students.”

Barbarin’s future plans include teaching general biology, ecology, and entomology at a small university or college or becoming an extension educator at a land grant institution. To accomplish her goals she is simultaneously pursuing a Masters of Extension Education in addition to an entomology doctoral degree. Her adviser, Ed Rajotte, noted that the entomology department tries to accommodate student goals by tailoring graduate education. Double degrees and dual degrees are becoming more common as students strive for credentials that will set them apart in the job market.

Established in 1963, Penn State’s Department of Entomology has grown into a well-balanced department providing undergraduate education, graduate student training and extension outreach education focusing on both domestic and international issues. Twenty faculty and more than 40 graduate students work on a variety of research topics providing insights into insect ecology, behavior and molecular biology as well as integrated pest management. The department is part of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. For more information about solving insect problems, de scri ptions of research and education programs or admission to the graduate program, visit Web site at or contact the department at (814) 865-1895.

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