The Iowa State Entomology Department

Above: Department of Entomology, August 2013. Click here to view historic images.

About the Department

The ISU Entomology Department has a long history of responsiveness, excellence, training students for leadership roles and developing innovative and practical solutions to insect-based challenges in public health and agriculture.

Entomologists at Iowa State University have engaged in teaching, research, and extension for more than a century. Professor Herbert Osborn taught the nation's first entomology course in 1880, beginning a tradition of excellence in basic and applied entomology. The Department of Entomology faculty work to provide an excellent education, develop innovative research programs and supply a creative, highly visible problem-solving extension program. The department is part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State, which is Iowa's land-grant university.


The mission of the Department of Entomology is to educate Iowans about insects and the science of entomology in order to improve the quality of life in our State. We:

  • Train outstanding students that are tomorrow’s leaders that successfully reach career goals
  • Discover new knowledge/relationships that provides novel solutions to emerging and future problems
  • Deliver recognized outreach programs that improve the lives of Iowa’s residents.


The Department is governed by the Department of Entomology Governance Document.

Guiding Principles, Learner Outcomes

  • Collegial environment
  • Dedication to undergraduate and graduate education
  • Strong relationships with collaborators, public agencies and private industry
  • Commitment to outreach/extension
  • Interdisciplinary applied and basic research
  • Use of web-based delivery/outreach

Read our Strategic Vision Statement, discover our Learner Outcomes.

Physical facilities

The picturesque campus of Iowa State University is located in Ames. The university has an enrollment of more than 25,000 students. The campus is comprised of an abundance of high-quality buildings and facilities that are easily accessible and available, ranging from libraries, fine arts performance venues, athletics, meeting and conference centers, to molecular biology and other support research facilities.

The collection of entomology literature in the university's Parks Library is the third largest in the country, after Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley.

The main entomology office is located in the Insectary. Teaching facilities, research laboratories and the Iowa State Insect Collection are located in the Science II building. Newly installed computer teaching laboratories, available on a walk-in basis for both Macintosh and Windows users, are conveniently located on second and fourth floors of Science II. The Insectary provides offices for extension and research personnel and additional laboratories. A research and teaching state-of-the-art greenhouse has recently replaced the greenhouse facility next to the Insectary. Entomology faculty of the USDA-ARS Corn Insects Research Unit are located in the Genetics Laboratory near the Insectary. The USDA-ARS Plant Introduction Station in Ames also houses research facilities and faculty.

Degrees available

The department offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Our undergraduate minor options provide a strong program in the biological sciences. The graduate program confers majors in entomology or toxicology. Graduate students may choose from the following areas of emphasis: behavior, biological control, ecology, economic entomology, forest entomology, insect genetics, insecticide toxicology, medical/veterinary entomology, molecular entomology, morphology, pathology, pest management, physiology, plant resistance, and systematics. Entomology participates in the interdepartmental majors in ecology and evolutionary biologygenetics, and interdepartmental major and minor in toxicology. The department also serves as the administrative home for the interdepartmental curriculum in pest management leading to a B.S. degree. For application information, see Iowa State University Admissions.

Faculty contributions

The department teaches entomology courses spanning undergraduate and graduate curricula. Entomology faculty members also teach in the undergraduate biology program.

The department's research productivity, based on publications per faculty member, is the highest in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Faculty members have earned numerous local, regional, and national awards for their accomplishments in entomology.

Researchers collaborate with several affiliated groups on and near the campus. They include: USDA Corn Insects Research Unit, North Central Plant Introduction Station, The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the Center for Crop Utilization Research, and other departments in the Colleges of Agriculture and Life SciencesEngineeringHuman Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine.

Extracurricular opportunities

An entomology graduate student organization supports the department's activities. Financial aid for graduate study is available as research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and extension assistantships.

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