Our question-and-answer session this month focuses on Ashari Zain, the 2018 recipient of Pest Management Professional’s (PMP’s) annual $1,000 scholarship. He was awarded the honor in January during the Purdue Pest Management Conference in West Lafayette, Ind.
1. What made you choose entomology as a field, and Purdue as the college to pursue your studies?
Growing up in Indonesia, I have always been curious about living things and nature. While pursuing my undergraduate degree in biology, I developed an interest in the field of entomology. I did my senior-year project on termite control by formulating effective baits. After graduation from the Institut Teknologi Bandung in 2014, I worked for a pest management company in Indonesia. I arrived at Purdue University in August 2016 to pursue my master’s degree in entomology.
2. What can you tell us about your master’s thesis project?
I’m currently studying insecticide resistance in German cockroaches. I’m interested in this because they’re more than just a nuisance pest; they also produce allergens that can trigger asthma attacks in humans. Historical data suggest cockroaches can quickly develop resistance to any insecticide that is used for their control for a prolonged period. In my research, I am looking at the insecticide resistance profile, genetic inheritance patterns, and the mechanisms of insecticide resistance in three German cockroach field strains collected from the Midwest.
3. It’s our understanding you are involved in other aspects of entomology at Purdue. What does that entail?
I am involved in industry-sponsored projects at Purdue that are related to insecticide product development for urban pest management. I am also an active member of the Purdue Entomology Graduate Organization (EGO), particularly the Linnaean Games team. (Editor’s Note: See box below for details.)
4. Do you have non-entomological pursuits, as well?
I am also interested in teaching, and have been volunteering at local schools to teach students about science. Additionally, I serve as a judge for the regional science and engineering competition held for high school students in Indiana.
5. What are your plans once you earn your master’s degree in May?
I hope to pursue a doctoral degree, and continue to deepen my knowledge about urban entomology.
What are the Linnaean Games?
The Linnaean Games are a longstanding tradition at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America (next taking place Nov. 11-14 in Vancouver, British Columbia). Four-person, university-sponsored teams answer entomology questions, college bowl style. First place earns a gold medal for each team member and a plaque for the team’s department. Second place garners a silver medal for each member and a plaque for their department. To place in the national competition, the ESA Branches conduct their own Linnaean matchups at their annual meetings. The winning branch team goes on to the national competition. Some branches send runners-up as well.