In entomological knowledge, N.C. State is number one

Date posted: April 11, 2011

Picture of members of the Linnaean Games winning teamPhoto by Dave CaldwellMembers of N.C. State’s Linnaean Games-winning team are, from left front, Kelly Oten and Stephanie Gorski; from left rear, Jonathan Cammack, Virna Saenz and Keith Bayless.

Media Contact: Dr. Hannah Burrack, assistant professor of entomology, North Carolina State University, 919.513.4344 or Hannah_burrack@ncsu.edu

March didn’t hold much madness for North Carolina State University basketball fans, but when it comes to entomological knowledge, well, N.C. State students can wave oversize foam hands with extended forefingers.

In late March, a five-person team made up of N.C. State entomology graduate students won the southeastern branch, or regional, competition of the Linnaean Games. The Linnaean Games, sponsored by the Entomological Society of America, is an annual event that tests students’ knowledge of insects in a tournament-style competition, said Dr. Hannah Burrack, an N.C. State assistant professor of entomology and the team advisor.

Each Linnaean Games match involves 16 questions worth 10 points each, Burrack said. The team with the most points wins. Typical question: A caterpillar-like larva is technically known as what? Answer: a eruciform worm.

There were seven teams in the branch competition, which was held in Puerto Rico during the annual meeting of the southeastern branch of the Entomological Society of America.

The N.C. State team, made up of students Jonathan Cammack, Kelly Oten, Virna Saenz, Stephanie Gorski and Keith Bayless, beat Auburn University and the universities of Florida and Arkansas to win the title. Winning the regional title qualifies the team to compete in the national event, which will be held in November in Reno, Nevada, during the national Entomological Society of America meeting.

N.C. State is something of a historical Linnaean Games power. Burrack said N.C. State has won the southeastern branch competition 12 of the 28 times the competition has been held. N.C. State has been so successful, in fact, that when the entomological society decided a few years ago to retire the large traveling trophy that used to go to the branch winner, they gave it permanently to N.C. State.

Written by: Dave Caldwell, 919.513.3127 or dave_caldwell@ncsu.edu

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