Entomology: A Discipline's Metamorphosis

TUCSON—Karen Saucier’s first glimpse of her new workplace—the insect molecular genetics laboratory at South Carolina’s Clemson University—came as a shocking disappointment. “I almost cried,” recalls Saucier, who had just left a high-powered postdoctoral fellowship at a human genetics laboratory at the University of Miami and was eager to apply those techniques to insects. What confronted her upon arriving at Clemson last year was a huge storage room

Elizabeth Pennisi
Nov 26, 1989

TUCSON—Karen Saucier’s first glimpse of her new workplace—the insect molecular genetics laboratory at South Carolina’s Clemson University—came as a shocking disappointment. “I almost cried,” recalls Saucier, who had just left a high-powered postdoctoral fellowship at a human genetics laboratory at the University of Miami and was eager to apply those techniques to insects. What confronted her upon arriving at Clemson last year was a huge storage room filled with desks and dusty insect cages.

It took her a month to empty the room, and even longer to get some stratup money—$40,OOO from Clemson’s biotechnology program. As the only person on the 27-person entomology faculty who was trained in molecular biology, she was referred to as the biotechnology freak. “They didn’t think I had much purpose,” she recalls.

Slowly, she is proving them wrong. For years, Clemson taxonomist John Morse has struggled to develop the means to identify caddisfly larvae, but...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?