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Graduate Studies in Entomology: Solve Big Problems, Take Your Career Anywhere


January 27, 2021

Insects may be small organisms, but studies in entomology really can take you anywhere. At Michigan State University, faculty and students engage in basic and applied research on insects and related invertebrates in these focus areas:

  • Food, fuel, fiber
  • Natural resources and biodiversity
  • Human and veterinary health

These themes are applied across diverse systems including annual and perennial crops, forests and aquatic environments. Research occurs in-state, around the country and in international settings. We work on six continents.

Our students are passionate about gaining expertise and experiencing collaborations that will position them for careers where they can make a difference. They come to us from smaller colleges as well as large universities around the world. Learn more about the Entomology Department at: For a quick overview, don’t miss our video: Entomology: More Than Just Bugs.

Interested? Take these first steps to apply

First, find a professor working in an area that interests you and who agrees to accept you into their research program. Here’s how:

  • Visit the research section of our website, Click on the specialty areas, for example, natural resources and biodiversity. You will find a description, images of research underway and a list of professors working in that area. Click on a name to read more about their particular expertise.
  • After you identify the professors who most closely match your interests, email them to introduce yourself and ask if they are accepting students. We recommend attaching a resume and unofficial transcript. Don’t hesitate to contact professors and be persistent in learning if any have openings.
  • See the full application process at

If you have questions about applying, contact the Department’s graduate program director Anthony Cognato (517-432-2369 or or graduate secretary Heather Lenartson-Kluge (517-355-4665 or

“MSU’s Entomology program positioned me so I could excel at anything I wanted to do. MSU has a multidisciplinary approach to research. You learn to work in teams, which is incredibly important anywhere you might work. Team work is how you accomplish great things.” – Dan Lawson, retired executive at SC Johnson & Son.

Why study entomology? “Insects are the cornerstone of ecosystem functioning. If you care about nature, conservation, sustainability, food security, and all the implications these issues have for humans and society, you need to care about insects.” – Gabriela Quinlan, recent graduate, now post-doctoral scholar at Penn State.

“While working as an undergraduate summer research assistant in an Entomology lab, I did a lot of work in orchards with a pest of apples, and I experienced firsthand how our work impacts growers in a positive way. That experience inspired my interest in entomology and graduate school at MSU.” – Danielle Kirkpatrick, recent graduate, now post-doctoral research entomologist at USDA-ARS, Kearneysville, WV.

“Entomology allows you to be a highly marketable specialist but also have a flexible career path as it can be combined with and applied to so many fields of study.” – Osten Eschedor, MSU undergrad, major in entomology.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work in a genetics lab led by an entomologist, which has given me experience in many modern laboratory techniques that will be useful in my career.” – Brenna Kizer, MSU undergrad, minor in entomology.

“I came to MSU because I wanted a big university that would give me diverse experiences and training. My lead professor taught me so much about the full research process while I was a student and I continue to think, what would he do?” – Mary Gardiner, professor of entomology at Ohio State University.

“The faculty and resources are incredible. Entomologists are some of the most well rounded scientists out there because we study organisms that inhabit nearly every system on the planet.” – Adam Ingrao, MSU Extension specialist, veterans’ liaison/agricultural entomologist.

“I feel that my education at MSU really prepared me well, not just for a career in entomology, but for the type of college administration I do now. Entomology at MSU is very special because it is an interdisciplinary hub of biologists, economists, engineers and more.” – Jan Nyrop, CALS senior associate dean, Cornell University.

“I can’t say enough about the Department—the people were fabulous, particularly my professors. I have great memories of field seasons traveling all over Michigan and interacting with growers and the staff at the research stations.” – Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski, associate professor of entomology, University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center.


Tags: canr, canr graduate, department of entomology, graduate studies

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