Life Science Faculty Establish a Long-Term Research Plot for BC Students to Study Integrated Pest Management
This month, lily beds on campus will become a living long-term research plot for students here at Bellevue College (BC). Little red lily leaf beetles (LLB), Lilioceris lilli, will be released onto the lilies and they will decimate them within weeks. Summer quarter students in plant biology will assess the damage, ask questions about beetle behavior, and develop experiments to evaluate strategies to control this invasive pest.
In the fall, T. setifer wasps, rice grain-sized, stingerless natural predators of the beetles, will be released and will parasitize the beetles while students monitor these dynamics and ask questions about how we can biologically control the growth and spread of these beetle populations across Washington State.
In 2010, the LLB was recorded in Bellevue, Washington for the first time. To date, it has not been recorded outside of King County but is expected to spread given the climatic and habitat suitability of this region. This region is thus ground zero for the spread of this pest throughout the Western U.S—unless we can figure out how to stop it. This student research opportunity was discovered by Bellevue faculty Roshni Tewari who leveraged her contacts and BC’s community to bring it to fruition.
Roshni, a Life Sciences faculty member at BC, met Chris Looney, of the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), at a garden show. He told her about a graduate student at Washington State University, Maggie Freeman, about their collaborative project, and how they need lily beds in Bellevue to become release sites and study plots. Roshni immediately thought of the opportunity for BC students in her plant biology courses to work alongside professional scientists and to become part of an authentic research experience. Roshni, along with Jason Fuller, the Assistant Chair of Life Sciences, approached RISE to help secure a plot of land and BC administrative approval. Dexter Johnson, the Executive Director of Campus Operations and Nate Yates, Building and Grounds Supervisor, graciously authorized the use of a piece of land on BC’s campus. One plot will be for Maggie and Chris to use as a multi-year experimental plot, and the other plot will be supplied with lilies, beetles and wasps, courtesy of the WSDA, and will be used for student-designed research experiments. Students will have the opportunity to study topics such as the LLB life cycle, parasitism rates, or conduct host plant trials while contributing to solving a pressing real world problem in this region.
This story demonstrates the critical role of faculty and staff at Bellevue College in identifying these opportunities as well as the innovative learning these types of collaborations can produce for students. This is exactly the type of meaningful, research-based educational opportunities that RISE supports.
Last Updated January 5, 2021