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Research Member Highlight: Hannah Bodmer

By Hope Chappuis, University of Minnesota undergraduate

Hannah Bodmer, an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota and member of the Bugs Below Zero team, has been recognized as a Goldwater Scholar. This prestigious scholarship was awarded to only two University of Minnesota undergraduates in 2021, and it will help support Hannah’s education, research, and ultimately, her pursuit of a Ph.D. in entomology.

Thanks to her insect-friendly parents, Hannah was able to care for insects from a young age, and she can’t remember a time in her life when she “didn’t love bugs.” Her early collection included madagascar hissing cockroaches and cecropia moths. These interests ultimately led her to the University of Minnesota, where Hannah began work with Dr. Leonard Ferrington, connected with other researchers in the Chironomidae Research Group, and started her own research project with Diamesa mendotae and nivoriunda. She hopes to continue building upon her early passion for insects and apply the research skills she has gained at UMN in a graduate school program. Hannah also worked in Germany during the summer of 2021 with a research scholarship to further explore aquatic insects.

Hannah’s research has resulted in a published short paper in the journal Chironomus titled: Nematodes infest winter-active chironomids in Minnesota trout streams, which focused on parasitization of nematodes (small roundworms) in winter-active midges. She also has a second, full-length paper accepted for publication and in preparation for printing in Aquatic Insects titled: Exposure of cold-adapted Diamesa mendotae Muttkowski, 1915 (Diptera: Chironomidae) to short-term high temperature reduces longevity and reproduction.

I chatted with Hannah to find out more about her background and interests.

You are an extremely driven and successful undergraduate. How do you stay calm and on track when you encounter a roadblock or bump in your path or research?

“I think at first a change in research can be frustrating. Maybe it isn't what you planned to study or you don’t know if you are doing it right. At the same time, it is exciting to collect all of this data, even if I'm not the one to analyze it (which I hope I will be the one to analyze it all, eventually). I like knowing this data is out there, helping prepare it, and knowing it is supplementing greater research in this field. All of these bumps are just fun new data.”

How did you first connect with Dr. Len Ferrington?

“I am in the College of Biological Sciences Honors program, and we have to write an honors thesis. There are required courses you have to take to set up your thesis, including “Exploring Research in the Biological Sciences” which helps you write a research proposal. As part of the course, you reach out to faculty members that you’re interested in working with. I talked to Dr. Ferrington, and he brought me into the lab group and Bugs Below Zero project, and said ‘I think you might be interested in working on this.’ And I was. I was able to continue with the actual research, and a hypothetical project turned into my real research for my honors thesis.”

Do you want a career in entomology?

“I definitely want a career in entomology. I want to stick with aquatic insects, but I also want to branch out a little broader from chironomids. In Germany, there is a lot of research about declines in insect populations, and I think connecting that to aquatic insects is interesting.”

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