USM Faculty, Graduate Student Recognized by the Entomological Society of America
Fri, 12/01/2023 - 01:21pm | By: Ivonne Kawas
More than 3,600 attendees gathered at the Entomological Society of America’s (ESA) 2023 annual meeting in National Harbor, Md., held this month to discuss the latest research in insect science and to interact with experts in the entomological community.
A University of Southern Mississippi (USM) faculty member and Ph.D. candidate in the School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences (BEES) were recognized for their research on Tick-borne diseases and understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying ticks' immune response to tick-borne pathogens.
Dr. Shahid Karim, professor of cell and molecular biology, was honored with a Physiology, Biochemistry, & Toxicology (PBT) Section Award.
“I’m very honored and grateful to be recognized with the ESA’s PBT section award,” said Dr. Karim. “Research is a team effort, and this is a recognition of my laboratory's amazing past and current trainees. Additionally, this award encourages innovative research in the areas of insect physiology, biochemistry, and toxicology in the broad sense.”
Abdulsalam Adegoke, a native of Ibadan, Nigeria and Ph.D. candidate in biological sciences, was honored with the Graduate PBT: Physiology President's Prize and Graduate Student Travel Award.
At the annual meeting, every student's dream is to receive the prestigious President’s Prize after presenting their research. Adegoke, presented a research poster titled “Investigating the interplay between tick hemocytes and tick-borne rickettsiae.”
Furthermore, the Graduate Student Travel Award aims to enhance the diversity of PBT section membership by supporting the travel of graduate students from under-represented groups who are presenting a talk or poster.
“Being honored with the President’s Prize attests to the depth of my graduate research conducted under the guidance of my advisor, Dr. Karim,” said Adegoke. “I believe it also underscores the research opportunities available to graduate students at USM, particularly within the School of BEES.”
Adegoke’s research aims to gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex interactions involving ticks, tick-borne pathogens, and tick immune cells, with the ultimate goal of advancing the knowledge of tick-borne disease transmission dynamics.
“My research presentation focused on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the intricate interplay between the tick immune responses to tick-borne pathogens, explicitly focusing on the role of tick hemocytes (immune cells) in the establishment and persistence of infection within the tick vector,” explained Adegoke.
During the annual meeting, as part of ESA’s Professional Advancement Career Training (PACT) Initiative, Adegoke was paired with a mentor, Dr. Carlos Esquivel, a research entomologist at Bayer Crop Science.
“One highlight of my attendance at the annual meeting was participating in the ESA’s PACT Initiative, aimed at developing graduate students' leadership capacity and soft skills while pairing them with professional mentors,” said Adegoke. “My mentor, Dr. Esquivel, facilitated my networking experience with non-academic entomologists. I eagerly anticipate the professional growth that will come under his mentorship.”
At USM, Dr. Karim has spearheaded the application of modern high-throughput methodologies to analyze genome, transcriptome, and proteomic dynamics in the Gulf Coast and lone-star tick species. He and his team have completed sequencing, assembly, and annotation of the Gulf-Coast tick genome, a resource that has opened up new avenues of multidisciplinary research. Additionally, he has identified the tick saliva antigens responsible for inducing alpha-gal syndrome (red meat allergy).
A testament of the success and recognition of Dr. Karim’s work is his record of successful competitive grants. He is currently the Principal Investigator or co-principal investigator on several active grants, including the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Agriculture. A continuous stream of competitive extramural funding of his research program demonstrates his commitment to providing opportunities for postdoctoral fellows, graduate, and undergraduate student researchers and expanding the range and impact of research at USM.
“The impact of my advisor and mentor, Dr. Karim, on my academic, scientific, and professional development cannot be overstated,” said Adegoke. “Since my first day in his lab, he has encouraged my participation in activities aimed at enhancing my professional growth. Additionally, he has supported and motivated my active involvement in several regional and national scientific meetings.”
About the Entomological Society of America
ESA is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, the Society stands ready as a non-partisan scientific and educational resource for all insect-related topics. For more information, visit entsoc.org.