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Nibbles & Poisons: A Marriage

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 1, 2012

Jameson and Friend

This is a nice press release from Wichita State, and with a decent punch line:

Deep in the corridors of Wichita State University’s Hubbard Hall, two Biological Sciences faculty are intertwined in a sometimes contentious relationship.

Associate professor Mary Liz Jameson is a biodiversity scientist. Her research focuses on the science of insects, specifically beetles.

Associate professor Leland Russell is a plant population and community ecologist. His research focuses on the effects that herbivores, such as beetles, have on plants.

Jameson and Russell are married. One studies beetles. The other studies plants.

Beetles eat plants. Plants can poison beetles.

Can this relationship be saved?

O.k., I’m going to skip all the cutesy marital sweet talk, and probably antagonize botanists by omitting much further discussion of Russell and his plants.  (If you truly insist, you can find all that stuff here.)  But I like what it says about Jameson and of course also her beetles, as well as her husband’s anxieties that she might name a new species after him (you can also check out her full bio here) :

She has discovered and named 37 new species of scarab beetles through her research in places such as Sumatra, Peru, Honduras, the Soloman Islands and Thailand. Jameson has also had several species actually named in her honor.

“Species are the pieces of the puzzle that help us to understand how all of the components of life on Earth work together,” she said. “Scientists have named about 1.8 million species on Earth, but millions more remain to be described.”

She has yet to name a newly discovered species after Russell, but said she’s working on it.

“I haven’t found just the right one to name after Leland,” she said. “It’s gotta be from someplace he loves. Or it’s gotta have a nice smile. Or it’s gotta be something that strikes me as, like, him.”

Russell jokes that he’d prefer not to be named after a dung beetle.

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