Frost Newbie: Caitlin Mroz

La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica, 2015. Taken by Stacy Koperna

Hi everyone! My name is Cait Mroz, I’m working at the Frost Entomological Museum digitizing specimens of the vast collection we have here. I’m originally from the coast of New Jersey, so growing up I spent a lot of time both at the beach and the Pine Barrens.

I am a Biology major with a focus in Ecology, minoring in Forest Ecosystem Management. I have a passion for all things nature, with a special interest in conservation and restoration. I am fortunate to have been able to study abroad in Panama and  twice in Costa Rica; working with leaf-cutter ants, macro invertebrates in river habitats, scarlet macaws, plankton, and leather back sea turtles.

Prior to moving to University Park, I attended Penn State’s Schuylkill Haven campus for two years. There I was involved in biology and chemistry research labs regarding effects the Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) seeds have on native competitors and the cyclization of a benzothiazinone, respectively. Here at University Park, I work in the Shea Lab with invasive thistle and native weevil population ecology.

I enjoy studying and learning about all living things, but am particularly interested in relationships between insects and plant species (especially if one of those two is invasive!). While most people try to avoid things that are creepy and/or crawly, I really enjoy working at the Frost and being around all of the specimens. Some specimens here are from the late 1800s—holding that bit of history is just amazing, and seeing associated plant taxa that comes with a given species really piques my interest.

Working at the Frost has opened my mind to the wonderful world of Entomology, I have already learned so much from my time here—can’t wait to see what the next few weeks have in store!

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