Bugs Under Glass

By Katie Clark

Among other things, Drexel University is known for its co-op programs, or opportunities where students take what they learn in the classroom, and apply it in a professional setting.

Environmental Science major Vaughn Shirey is one of many fortunate Drexel students who’ve done just that. Shirey spoke to Drexel Magazine about his co-op experience in the Academy’s Entomology Department, insects, and more.

Shirey completed a co-op in the Academy’s Entomology Department.

THE CO-OP: I worked in historical collections in the Entomology Department at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University as a research assistant. I was tasked with creating a specimen-level database for a portion of the collection, collected at Franklin Parker Preserve in New Jersey.

THE OBJECT: I chose a framed collection of Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) wings because I think it’s important for people to connect to the insect world. Insects can be beautiful, they can be destructive, or even beneficial, but we don’t often think about them unless we run into a particularly infamous variety, like cockroaches. There’s also the element of curiosity that natural history collections are born from — being able to understand the natural world and why these beautiful wing patterns and colors evolved, for instance.

THE TAKEAWAY: My co-op inspired me to discover beauty and seek understanding in the insect world around us. I was able to see a project from initial stages through to completion and was even kept on as a staff member in the Entomology Department. I gained a lot of confidence in project management and development and a greater appreciation of natural history collections. It definitely steered my career interests toward similar work.

This post first appeared in Drexel Magazine.

To learn more about the Entomology Collection, visit ansp.org.

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