Our new Freshers have now found their feet and most now no longer have to ask directions to buildings and lecture theatres. It came as a bit of a shock to me to suddenly realise that this time forty years ago I was in a similar position at Leeds University, although probably feeling somewhat more lost than our first year students because even then, Leeds was a big university (10 000 students; small compared with most universities now, but the biggest outside London then). Two weeks into term and I was experiencing my first ever entomology lectures – my degree was in a now extinct subject, Agricultural Zoology, which was essentially entomology and parasitology, with a strong agricultural slant. I still have the books that I bought in those first stumbling days (as Agrics we drank rather a lot) towards my career as a professional entomologist. I note that I did not buy the two Entomological bibles of our day, Imms (A General Textbook of Entomology) and Wigglesworth (The Principles of Insect Physiology) until the following year; actually during the summer vacation so I must have been very keen and feeling quite rich 😉 I drank and read my way through undergraduate life managing to fit in an entomological expedition to Trinidad in 1975 where I reacquainted myself with the Caribbean insects that had first sparked my interest in entomology as a child in Jamaica. I also discovered that, to quote the advertising posters all over the island, “in Trinidad a beer is a Carib”!
Despite the beer, the sunshine and the exotic flora and fauna, 1975 was the year that I decided aphids were the most fascinating of all insects and what I wanted to work on when I graduated. I also realised that you didn’t need to travel to exotic places to do interesting fieldwork and make new discoveries. Even with all the distractions of student life, I did graduate and went on to do a PhD working on cereal aphid ecology.
PhD work – A good job Health & Safety hadn’t been invented 😉
I had some great entomological lecturers as an undergraduate, all of whom helped me get to where I am today; Brian Whittington, Noel Gibson, Edward Broadhead, Steve Sutton and the somewhat eccentric Dick Loxton who took us on our field course and introduced us to extreme sweep netting, something I still do to do this day! References
Barnes, R.D. (1974) Invertebrate Zoology, 3rd Edition, W B Saunders & Co. Philadelphia
Barrington, E.J.W. (1967) Invertebrate Structure & Function, Nelson, London
Cox, F.E.G., Morton, J.E., Phillips Dale, R., Nichols, D., Green, J. & Wakelin, D. (1969) Practical Invertebrate Zoology, Sidgwick & Jackson, London
Grove, A.J. & Newell, G.E. (1969) Animal Biology, 8th Edition, University Tutorial Press Ltd. London Imms, A.D. (1947) Insect Natural History, Collins, London