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See also: About Tucson and the surrounding environment

Center for Insect Science

The Center for Insect Science (CIS) is a unique organization at the University of Arizona for funding interdisciplinary research on insects. Its beginning was a grant proposal to NSF written by six insect researchers in four different departments.

The CIS was established in 1988 and involves researchers from around the State of Arizona including the departments of biochemistry, ecology and evolutionary biology, entomology, molecular and cellular biology, neurobiology, pathology, at the University of Arizona, the Department of Zoology at Arizona State University, the Department of Biology at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and three USDA facilities.

Regular events aim to get insect researchers together from different disciplines and encourage exchange of knowledge and ideas that foster interdisciplinary research.

Additional activities include expansion of basic insect knowledge through educational outreach, communication, and technology transfer. The CIS supports graduate initiatives and works cooperatively with national and international collaborators.

The Director of CIS is Dr. Nicholas J. Strausfeld, Regents' Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. Further information is available from Teresa Kudrna, the Senior Program Coordinator.

The University of Arizona

The University of Arizona was founded in 1885. From the six initial faculty and thirty-two students, it has grown to a University with over 2,000 faculty and 35,000 students. In recent years it has made a commitment toward excellence in teaching and research, especially in the life sciences, and it is now one of the top 20 research universities in the country with a first class science library. Insect research is a major focus.

The Entomology Department office and some of its facilities occupy the north wing of the top floor of the Forbes Building (map). This is one of the grand old buildings erected in 1915, with a handsome pillared front entrance and a grassy courtyard and rose garden on the back side. The new Agriculture Building has allowed us to expand to suit our growing needs.

The University of Arizona encourages interdisciplinary research. The increasing complexity of biological knowledge and the limitations on individual endeavor are seen as a particular reason for combining research efforts in different laboratories and for increased interactions among scientists with different disciplines. This approach makes the working environment particularly stimulating.

University of Arizona Campus Departments

The Department of Entomology is within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and includes faculty with research focuses on fundamental insect biology as well as on pest management.

The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) in the College of Science has currently four faculty whose research uses insect models for their study of the nature and principles underlying ecological and evolutionary systems. Several courses are co-listed between EEB and Entomology. Also in the College of Science, many of the faculty in the Department of Neuroscience use insects as model systems for their work in the study of nervous systems.

The Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology are campus-wide departments serving the College of Science. Among seventeen faculty in Biochemistry, five are particularly involved with insects, in particular, lipid metabolism, insect hormones and pheromones, and protein chemistry. In Molecular and Cell Biology the main insect focus concerns developmental biology of Drosophila. The Department of Immunobiology in the School of Medicine includes work on molecular evolution of defense molecules.

Within the College of Agriculture, the Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology has faculty involved with insects that transmit diseases, and the Department of Plant Sciences has faculty involved in plant-insect interactions.

In addition to regular departments within the Colleges of the University, the Arizona Research Laboratories (ARL) is an interdisciplinary research unit established to provide a mechanism for administering and fostering interdisciplinary research. It forms research groups to initiate new programs of high priority. Its divisions include

The Institute for Environment and Society works across the University of Arizona campus to provide both disciplinary and interdisciplinary research relating to the environment of the Earth, from local to global scales, and how this environment is likely to change in coming seasons, years, and decades. IES encourages multidisciplinary action on and off campus, as well as with users of environmental knowledge and information. One of their main goals is to forge new paradigms in University partnership with society's decision-makers.

University of Arizona Resources for Research

University Agricultural Centers:

Besides the main campus, the university has agricultural centers where work on agriculturally important insects is carried out.

The Campus Agricultural Center is located about three miles north of campus and is situated in and around the USDA facilities serving many of the departments within the College. Two research laboratories plus several greenhouses are located on the farm that specifically serve agriculturally-oriented research by several faculty and their graduate students. Farm land is available for specialized small-plot field research.

The Maricopa Agricultural Center (MAC) is located about 75 miles northwest of Tucson and comprises the largest and most modern research facility among the off-campus farms. The entire farm of 2550 acres is divided for both large-scale demonstrations and large-plot research. Numerous agricultural and horticultural crops can be grown for the researcher upon request. Excellent modern laboratory and greenhouse facilities are also located at this station.

The Yuma Agricultural Center (YAC) is in Yuma, Arizona, about 250 miles west of Tucson. The YAC has two sites: a Valley farm four miles west of Yuma and a Mesa Farm four miles south of the city. The 274-acre Valley Farm includes a diversified range of crops, including cotton, small grains, and such vegetables as lettuce and broccoli. The 240-acre Mesa Farm is focused on citrus production.

Other University Reserves:

In addition there are special reserves where insect ecology in natural habitats may be conveniently studied:

The Santa Rita Experimental Range (40 minutes southwest of Tucson) was recently acquired by the University of Arizona. The range encompasses a large acreage on the western slopes of the Santa Rita Mountain range. The Range is the site of current research especially on termite ecology and the biology of range insects. The Florida Canyon Work Station (a biological field station) provides laboratory space and accommodations for University of Arizona and visiting biologists. Florida Canyon is an excellent example of an interrupted canyon stream and mountain canyon riparian habitat where research on native cotton insects, gall forming insects, and the ecology and behavior of aquatic insects is currently being conducted.

The Desert Laboratory was established at the turn of the century by the Carnegie Foundation for the study of desert plants. Saguaro cacti and other dominant perennial Sonoran Desert species have been monitored on site for over 80 years. There are laboratory facilities for personnel at the University of Arizona and for visiting researchers on site.

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum, north of Tucson at Superior, has an excellent facility for research with arid land plants.

The Sonoran Desert Station for Arthropod Research now being established in the Tucson Mountains will provide a natural preserve for research and instruction very close at hand. The Sonoran Desert Station for Arthropod Research consists of about 300 acres of pristine lower Sonoran Desert land of variable relief and exposure in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains. The reserve is bounded on the south and west by county park land and by the Saguaro National Monument. Desert Station is administered by the Department of Entomology. This is a restricted access site for long term ecological studies and approved non-destructive, minimally intrusive biological research. No facilities are currently available on site, but the location is only 20 minutes from the University of Arizona campus.

Non-University Facilities

Apart from the University, there are several organizations in southern Arizona where research on insects is carried out and where there are useful facilities. For example, the Southwestern Research Station at Portal is an excellent field station in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona run by the American Museum of Natural History. This spectacular site and the good laboratory facilities and accommodations are about a four-hour drive southeast of Tucson. The Audubon Society's Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch, in Elgin, Arizona, is primarily grassland at about 5,000 ft. This area provides research opportunities in grassland and riparian habitats with housing and laboratory space for field researchers and is about a one hour drive southeast of Tucson.

The National Park Service administration actively encourages and has sometimes funded arthropod ecological research and surveys on its numerous sites in southern Arizona. The Nature Conservancy has many unique holdings in southern Arizona where approved research on the ecology of rare, endangered, or indigenous species may be conducted. All of the above listed holdings can restrict and control public access thus insuring minimal disturbance of intermediate and long term study areas. The extensive National Forests in the mountain ranges of southern Arizona offer opportunities for forest insect research.

Arizona Universities

Arizona has three universities with a shared Board of Regents. Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona State University in Tempe near Phoenix and the University of Arizona in Tucson. The University of Arizona is the land grant university with a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a research program that includes, besides basic work, studies of particular importance to agriculture, urban problems, and the community at large. Only the University of Arizona has an Entomology Department.


Last updated 17 Feb 2020