UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With the hopes of accelerating consciousness and curiosity in public well being and medical entomology, Penn State alumna Alexis Barbarin created an annual award for graduate college students pursuing analysis and levels in that area. The BEDBUGS Award is being funded by yearly royalties Barbarin receives from a patent for a bedbug pesticide she helped analysis whereas pursuing her doctorate.
Consideration for The BEDBUGS Award, which stands for Broadening Entomological Variety by Unearthing Graduate Research, shall be given to full-time graduate college students pursuing a level in entomology within the School of Agricultural Sciences who show excellence within the areas of city or public well being entomology. The awards shall be for one educational yr, however recipients shall be thought of for the award in subsequent years in the event that they show additional accomplishments. Recipients could use the award to fund a analysis mission of their selecting, attend a convention or purchase provides, amongst different choices.
“Alexis excelled in our program — her Ph.D. work has had an awesome affect on bedbug management,” mentioned Gary Felton, professor and head of the Division of Entomology. “This award she’s created will assist make sure that we will recruit and help college students working within the necessary space of public well being and concrete pest administration.”
Barbarin, who graduated in 2012 with a doctorate in entomology, is a local of New Orleans, Louisiana. She and her household have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina, however Barbarin was capable of full her undergraduate diploma from Xavier College of Louisiana. After getting accepted to Penn State, she was to pursue analysis on spongy moths. Nevertheless, having grown up in an city atmosphere and with a need to make a distinction for these coping with pests in city areas, she struggled to really feel related to the work she was doing on the forest pest.
“I made a decision I wished to work on bedbugs, however I didn’t have the funding,” mentioned Barbarin. “Fortunately, I used to be honored as each a Bunton-Waller Fellow and a Sloan Scholar. The Sloan Basis afforded me the chance to have monetary freedom, which is paramount as a graduate scholar! And, it finally offered the funding I wanted to do analysis on bedbugs.”
Towards the top of her program, Barbarin was approached about pursuing analysis with Dr. Nina Jenkins, an entomology analysis professor, on a possible bedbug pesticide. The experiment proved profitable, and with the help of a RAIN (Analysis Purposes for Innovation) Grant via the faculty, Jenkins based ConidioTec and filed for a patent to commercialize the analysis.
As we speak, Barbarin is one among two public well being entomologists for the state of North Carolina, specializing in ticks and tick-borne diseases. She can be an adjunct professor at North Carolina State College, the place she accomplished her second post-doctoral place. By her success, she appears to be like again on her time at Penn State with immense gratitude.
“I’m simply so grateful that the division took an opportunity on this lady from New Orleans who was basically homeless and displaced by Katrina,” mentioned Barbarin. “I needed to study a lot, however I’m so grateful they took an opportunity on me and it labored out. I knew I wanted to do one thing to offer again.”
Since 2017, Barbarin has been receiving royalties from the patent for the bedbug pesticide. After saving all of the checks initially to assist her buy her first dwelling, she knew she wished to create an award to assist graduate college students at Penn State.
“I wished to assist graduate college students pursue their very own initiatives and fill wants that they’ve,” she mentioned. “I additionally hope it brings extra consciousness and curiosity to public well being and medical entomology and can assist college students who need to do analysis in these areas. I had my probability due to monetary help, and now I hope this may be another person’s probability.”
Whereas Barbarin is funding the award yearly for now, she hopes sooner or later to endow it. She additionally hopes it evokes different graduates to offer again.
“My hope is that different graduates will see the worth in creating a present and that college students who get an award now will keep in mind that and be impressed to create items sooner or later. There are usually not loads of departmental awards in entomology so there’s a restrict to how a lot the division may also help. My award isn’t massive, nevertheless it’s a great place to begin.”
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