Harper Adams University: Academic named as Royal Entomological Society’s first Early Career Trustee

A Harper Adams academic whose studies at the university helped set him on his path to a career in entomology has been named as the Royal Entomological Society’s first Early Career Trustee.

The role will mean that Dr Joe Roberts will now be working with the society to ensure academics and researchers – like him – who are at the start of their careers in the discipline are represented.

He said: “The RES does really important work around public engagement – especially around telling the public why people should care about insects. I have been involved for a few years – I was a Postgraduate Rep when I was doing my PhD here at Harper.

“The board of trustees expanded this year, and that is where my post came from. I am the first Early Career Trustee on the board, and my work will centre around looking to engage with early career academics and researchers.

“My goal is to try to help the society with its aim to be more inclusive.”

Joe is also keen to build on the public engagement work of the Society – with a recent survey, which described various insects and arachnids as ‘creepy crawlies’ and asked Britons to choose their least favourite, among the kinds of attitudes he wants to change.

He added: “The survey was really disappointing, as it was sending such a negative message. People shouldn’t class these creatures are pests – they are absolutely not!

“Without insects, nothing would be possible. For people to say that these creatures are just pests and a nuisance – well, some are of course, but in the grand scheme of things most are actually out there doing good things for the environment and ecosystems. They are incredibly useful to society, and I am sure people wouldn’t want to live in a world where they didn’t exist.”

That interest in insects – and the varied and valuable roles which they play – drew Joe himself to his current vocation.

He added: “I actually studied forensics at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

“I was doing a project on insects at crime scenes – and through that project I realised that I actually wanted a career in entomology. I saw a PhD come up at Harper Adams in 2013, applied – and the rest is history!

“As a student, Harper was an excellent place to study. We have some great facilities at the university, including our dedicated entomology facilities, and we had a dedicated group of entomologists.

“Very few universities can boast that, they may have one or two specialists – but not a dedicated group of entomologists or those dedicated facilities.”

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