Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Local News

January 1, 2014

Wente to intern at Disney

Jan. 1, 2014 — Rebecca Wente of Grayson will be taking agricultural lessons learned in University of Kentucky laboratories to Walt Disney World’s Land Pavilion in Epcot for six months as she interns in the park’s pest management program in Orlando, Fla.

The senior agricultural biotechnology underwent a competitive application process to land the coveted internship, a success only one other undergraduate entomology student can share.

As an intern in entomology, Wente will be responsible for rearing and maintaining insect colonies, releasing beneficial insects and predators into the greenhouses and assisting with pest monitoring and greenhouse IPM programs, according to a press release.

In addition to those duties, she will also lead informative and interactive guest tours through the greenhouses, labs and aquaculture facility and staff the Behind the Seeds Tour desk.

Wente said her acceptance into the program further solidifies her destiny as an entomolgist.

“I’ve been working hard in the lab for two years, and this is a signal to me to continue to pursue a career in entomology and that I can succeed at a higher level in this field,” she said.

As part of her time in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, she has worked in the lab of UK Associate Professor of Entomolgy James Harwood with doctoral student Jessica Knowles, working on the insect-based project that earned her, Knowles and Harwood first place in the President's Prize competition for undergraduate students at UK.

“Rebecca has a good foundation of biological control knowledge and agricultural knowledge to be successful in this internship,” Knowles said.

For the project, the group examined pests to determine what ate them using molecular gut content analysis, using cutting-edge technology to extract and analyze DNA of prey found in a predator’s digestive tract, helping them better understand food chains.

They also presented the research at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America in Austin, Texas, during the summer.

Harwood said, “This internship will help Rebecca build upon what she’s been trained on in the lab and afford her the opportunity to advance her career in entomology.”

Lana Bellamy can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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