LSU graduate student receives entomology fellowship

Tobie Blanchard  |  11/14/2016 9:30:23 PM

(11/14/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – Alana Russell, a graduate student in the LSU College of Agriculture Department of Entomology, was recognized for receiving the John and Grace Roussel Graduate Fellowship in Entomology at a ceremony on Nov. 4.

Russell’s research is on the salvinia weevil, an insect that effectively controls the aquatic weed giant salvinia. She explained her research to the Roussel family and told them how she is working to establish cold-tolerant weevils that can survive winters in north Louisiana.

“Giant salvinia can completely cover a body of water, which has ecological and economic impacts,” Russell said. “It can alter water quality, disrupt native plants and limit access for commercial and recreational boating while also reducing habitat for economically important game birds.”

Russell traveled to South America to collect weevils for her research.

“This is farther south than our original population of salvinia weevils is from. We actually collected a different population with the hypothesis that they were more cold tolerant,” she said.

John and Grace Roussel’s five children attended the reception. The family started the fellowship as a way give entomology students an opportunity to pursue their research goals and to keep their parents’ legacy alive, Keith Roussel said.

“Our parents taught us that education is very important, and we wanted to repay them in name for all they did for us,” Roussel said.

John Roussel was a cotton entomologist at LSU in the mid-1950s and worked on a team that discovered boll weevil resistance to the insecticide DDT.

Mike Stout, head of the Department of Entomology, thanked the Roussel family for their support of the department.

“It means a lot to our department and our students,” Stout said.

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Alana Russell moves giant salvinia from a research pond in St. Gabriel into bins to take back to her lab. Russell received the John and Grace Roussel Graduate Fellowship in Entomology. She is working on cold-tolerant salvinia weevils to control the aquatic weed giant salvinia. Photo by Tobie Blanchard

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The Roussel family with students who have received the John and Grace Roussel Graduate Fellowship. Back: Jane Roussel; John Roussel; Keith Roussel; Chinmay Tikhe, who received the fellowship in 2014; Tommy Peters. Front: Gwen Roussel Emick; Sheika Russell; Alana Roussel; Lina Bernaola, who received the fellowship in 2015; Cheryl Roussel Peters; Les Roussel. Photo by Tobie Blanchard

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