Former biology student is paper author after describing new species

Former biology student is paper author after describing new species

A University of Iowa student’s efforts to distinguish a new species has netted her authorship on a journal manuscript.

Hannah Ericson was a student in an Entomology class taught by Andrew Forbes, associate professor in the Department of Biology, when she became involved in a project to characterize a parasitic wasp that preys on the juniper maggot fly that itself is a parasite of Eastern red cedar trees in the United States.

Ericson was able describe the new parasitic wasp species, called Coptera tonic, and define what makes it unique from its relatives. She even coined its tongue-in-cheek name.

“It was the wasp’s association with the juniper trees that led to the name ‘tonic,’” says Ericson, who graduated from Iowa last May with a bachelor of science degree in biology. “Gin is made from juniper berries, so we were riffing off the drink gin and tonic.”

Forbes and Ericson earlier this month published a paper describing the new species in the journal Zookeys.

“I think it’s really cool that I can say that I helped to name a new species,” says Ericson, who’s pursuing her doctorate at the University of Georgia. “It was also really great to be able to publish my first paper!”

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