In November 2023, I traveled to National Harbor, Maryland to present my research at the Entomological Society of America’s Annual meeting. This travel was made possible with the FLMNH Student Travel Awards and Gapenski Endowment.

This was my first time receiving this award and it allowed me to attend my second annual conference giving my first 10-minute talk on my research. Being my first 10-minute talk, I was able to learn more about scientific communication and was able to teach others about my phylogenetic analysis of Acentropinae (Lepidoptera: Pyraloidea: Crambidae). My research was the first molecular phylogeny of acentropines, which are the largest subfamily of aquatic moths. This is an understudied group and not many people know about these moths, receiving interesting questions and multiple people reaching out after to learn more. I was also able to attend other presentations by other UF and FLMNH students and network with many different scientists.

One of my favorite aspects of these meetings is the chance to network. I’ve been able to meet scientists from different backgrounds, interests, and countries that I would not have been able to meet if I did not have this opportunity. The discussions that I have had taught me about different aspects of entomology and organisms I would normally not learn about. This has also led to discussions of various projects and ideas for our future careers.

After the meeting, I then went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (NMNH). There I met with Alma Solis, a curator, to look at some specimens and discuss research. She had already loaned some specimens and I thought it would be beneficial to see the collection of Crambids and Acentropines to think of ideas for future projects and collaborations.

I am so grateful for this opportunity that was only possible with the FLMNH travel award and the Gapenski Endowment. This award allowed me to do my first presentation at a conference, network with peers, and help reinforce my desire to do more research and share my findings with others.

The 2023 Fall Student Travel Awards are supported by the FLMNH Department of Natural History, including funds from the Gapenski Endowment. If you would like to help support this fund for future student awards, please go to:

Louis C. and Jane Gapenski Endowed Fellowship