Alumni Newsletter | Winter 2010



Team Truman: Gary Bennett and former students taking on the task of updating the Pest Management industry’s textbook


In the blustery cold confines of West Lafayette, Indiana, Gary Bennett gets but a moment of rest. The annual Purdue Pest Management Conference - Bennett's baby for the past 39 years - has just wrapped up and the PMP Hall of Famer quickly shifts his attention to a new labor-intensive project.

[Full Story]


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2009 Outstanding Service Award


Charles Bacon received the 2009 Entomology Outstanding Service Award. An immigrant from Cuba, Charles has been with the department since September 2004 and became a U.S citizen in 2008. As a laboratory assistant for three programs, he rears cockroaches for Kurt Saltzmann, cultivates Hessian flies for Jeff Stuart, and maintains cowpea bouchid cultures for Larry Murdock. “Charles is an exemplary laboratory assistant, a fine human being, and an outstanding employee of the department.” The award was presented at the annual Entomology Awards and Recognition Reception in December.


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Service Recognition Program 2010


The 2010 Annual Service Recognition Program, hosted by the Provost’s office, was held in January. Congratulations to the following entomology employees who were honored for their years of service:


30 Years - Tammy Luck, Extension Administrative Assistant and Building Deputy
25 Years - Joe Hegarty, CERIS, EXCERPT Project Manager
25 Years - Zakia Kazem - CERIS, Programmer/Analyst
15 Years - Susan Schechter, CERIS, Senior NAPIS User Services Administrator
10 Years - Bill Kielhorn, Computer Assistant

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New Staff


Venu Margam (PhD ’09) began as a new Postdoc in January 2010. He is working with Larry Murdock on the aspects of respiratory physiology of bruchids in hermetic storage. He is also assisting African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in planning and implementation of insect resistant cowpea field evaluation trials in Nigeria this fall. Margam and his wife, Swapna, have one son, Srihith, who will be one year old in April.


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Births and Marriages


Kristi (Zurawski) Bugajski and new husband Brian

Kristi (Zurawski) Bugajski married Brian Bugajski on September 5, 2009 at Saint Joseph’s College Chapel in Rensselaer, Indiana with a reception at the Crown Point Courthouse in Crown Point, Indiana. Kristi is a PhD candidate in Forensic Science with Ralph Williams.

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FROM THE HEAD BUG by Steve Yaninek


Purdue Entomology Beyond the Borders: The Early Years


Steve Yaninek
Steve Yaninek

I’m sitting in the airport at Chicago O’Hare waiting for a flight to Beijing, China as I put the finishing touches on this article about Purdue Entomology overseas. There is no doubt about our interest and commitment to international cooperation and development as a department. We have been involved in scientific exchanges, engaged in international development, recruited international students and staff, and promoted and led study abroad programs for decades. About a third of our undergraduates get overseas at least once while at Purdue – among the highest rates in the College. We have trained graduate students from most continents and seen waves of representatives from Europe, Africa, Central and South America, and Asia in the past 50 years. Currently a third of our graduate students come from outside the US from such destinations as Brazil (2), China (2), Colombia (2), Ecuador (1), Egypt (2), France (1), Guatemala (1), Honduras (1), India (2), Iran (1), and Ireland (1). Even our staff is cosmopolitan in make-up and origin with representatives from Afghanistan (1), Australia (1), Steve Yaninek Canada (3), Cuba (1), Egypt (1), Iran (1), and Japan (1).

[Full Story]

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Insectaganza 2009


Last October, the Department of Entomology held its thirteenth annual program Science on Six Legs: An Insectaganza of Education. The event was attended by 786 fifth graders from 12 schools in the Greater Lafayette/Tippecanoe County area. The four components of the program, Insect Lecture, Insect Dissection, Insect Theater, and Quiz Bowl were designed to promote awareness of science (especially insect science), cultivate critical thinking skills, provide lessons on basic insect biology, taxonomy and morphology, and expose fifth graders to life on a university campus and the possibility of higher education.

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Bilsland Fellowship


Marissa McDonough was selected to receive Bilsland Fellowship funding for the 2010-2011 academic year. The fellowship, a University program in honor of Winifred Beatrice Bilsland, provides support to outstanding PhD candidates in their final year of doctoral degree completion. Marissa works with Linda Mason in the area of Stored Foods & Grains.

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Outstanding Entomology Graduate Student Awards


Venu Margam (PhD '09) - Outstanding Student, Doctoral Program
Katie England (MS '09) - Outstanding Student, Masters Program
Alex Murphy - Outstanding Student Service Award

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New Students – Spring 2010


Kyle Pluchar, CODO, from Carmel, Indiana
Daniel Martin, Double major in Biology from Rockville, IN

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Winter Graduations


Katherine Wells (BS ’09)
Katie England (MS ’09)
Venu Margam (PhD ’09)

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Frederick W. (Rick) Kutz (PhD ’72)
Rick Kutz retired from the EPA in 2002. He has spent the last several years researching geospatial approaches to characterizing agriculture. For the past two years Rick has served as adjunct professor at Towson University in the Department of Geography and Environmental Planning. He still has an appreciation for the superb educational opportunities at Purdue and stays in touch with several fellow grad students of that time. Rick has celebrated 46 years of marriage, has 2 children and 4 grandsons, and continues to be involved in professional volunteer activities.


Rick L. Brandenburg (BS ’77)
Rick Brandenburg, Wm. Neal Reynolds Professor of Distinction, is the Co-Director of the Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education. Among his career highlights are the NC State turfgrass program being ranked number 1 by Turfnet Magazine in 2007, the success of USAID Peanut CRSP project in West Africa with increased yields and profits for farmers, and receiving the 2007 Lawn and Landscape and Bayer Environmental Science National Leadership Award. Rick remembers aggravating Al York, although “Al did a lot for me during my time at Purdue and I am indebted to him.” Al first connected Rick with George Kennedy at North Carolina State which has significantly impacted his professional life. Rick has 3 kids, none interested in entomology and his parents, big Purdue basketball fans, still live on the farm in Wabash County.


John Owens (MS ’77, PhD ’80)
I continue to work at SC Johnson & Son, Inc. of Racine, Wisconsin, primarily as a Product Compliance Audit Program Manager. In this role I travel all around the world to audit SC Johnson subsidiaries for their product safety, regulatory and environmental compliance, and I've visited over 25 countries in last several years. My other professional news is that I now have responsibilities as a Sustainability Program Manager for SC Johnson. If our Dept. alums see an SCJ advertisement on TV about how we are assisting pyrethrum growers (subsistence farmers) in Rwanda to become more productive and contribute significantly to the world's supply of natural pyrethrins insecticide, I am the SCJ Manager leading the day-to-day implementation of that program. We are working through an international agriculture program at Texas A&M's Borlaug Institute, called the SPREAD Project (, and partnering with US AID as co-sponsor. I visited Rwanda last August, and will do so again this May. On another Sustainability project I am working with the Global Business Coalition (GBC) for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to develop some new and improved malaria educational (IEC) materials for use by local public health educators to inform people about the basics of malaria biology and transmission, and how to protect (or treat) yourself and family members from malaria. This came out of some work that I did for SCJ several years ago to produce such educational materials for use in South Africa, Mozambique and Ghana, and those materials are now being upgraded with the help of GBC experts. Later in 2010 they will be made available through GBC's website to whomever wants to use them, and we will also be partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to promote the use of these new IEC materials.


John Owens and wife Jan

My wife, Jan, and I enjoy opportunities to travel and vacation to places around the world we never would have thought we would visit. The photo of us is in Hong Kong during July 2009). Jan is a Marketing Professor at Carthage College, in nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin. Thinking about travel, I still recall the first time I ever took an airplane flight, which was when Gary Bennett and Eldon Ortman, and a couple of us grad students, flew from Indy to Milwaukee back in 1976 or so to visit SC Johnson's Entomology Research Center and present and share some research results. At that time I would not have thought that I might someday work for SCJ, but I have been enjoying my work here for 27+ years now. Final bit of news- Gary Bennett, Bobby Corrigan and I are just wrapping up the revisions to the Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations ("the blue book"), which will be published as the 7th Edition later this spring!



Department of Entomology, 901 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4554

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