Marsh Award for Early Career Entomologist

This Award was run in partnership with the Royal Entomological Society and recognised an individual who has made an outstanding early career contribution to entomological science which has a single or ongoing impact to the field.

The Award was open to all those working in the field, recognising their dedication, hard work and creativity.

Dr Jessica Gillung 2019

Jessica’s research, “Systematics and Phylogenomics of Spider Flies (Diptera, Acroceridae)” focused on the evolution, conservation , biology, and taxonomy of spider flies, a group of spider natural enemies. Jessica received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in December 2018 and is now a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University in the Bryan Danforth lab, where she is researching Apoidea (stinging wasps and bees) phylogenomics, evolution and diversification.

Jessica’s cutting-edge work has increased our understanding of the biological patterns and processes that have shaped our planet’s biodiversity. In studying evolutionary origins and patterns of biological diversity, she uses state-of-the-art scientific methods, including genomics, phylogenetics, systematics, and comparative analyses. She investigates how to best use genomic sequences to infer evolutionary history and to understand how evolution has shaped biodiversity in our planet.

Jessica uses modern techniques of cybertaxonomy – the application of the internet, digital technologies, and computer resources to increase and speed up the discovery and cataloguing of new species. Using cybertaxonomic tools, Jessica described 25 new spider fly species herself and in collaboration with fellow entomologists, three fossil species from Baltic amber.

Jessica has dedicated herself not only to her ground-breaking research but to teaching, mentoring and outreach activities such as open houses, off-site programs, science presentations, UC Davies Picnic Days, summer camps, classroom activities, agriculture days, and fairs and festivals.

Previous Winners

Dr Dara Stanley

Dara’s research focuses on the biodiversity, ecology and conservation of insects, with a special focus on insects and their interactions with plants. After completing a PhD on pollinators and pollination in agricultural landscapes, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in both London and South Africa. Dara is currently a Lecturer in Plant Ecology at the National University of Ireland Galway. Her work focuses on questions around rare bumblebee conservation, crop pollination, and pesticide effects on bees. She has authored over 15 peer-reviewed scientific publications and is also actively committed to science communication and outreach. She regularly runs training workshops in the identification of pollinating insects and provides walks and talks on insects and plants to the general public.

Dr John P Simaika

John has worked on the study of dragonflies since his undergraduate years, having been published early on in his career on the taxonomy and ecology of dragonflies. His work has mainly focused on using dragonflies as tools for biomonitoring and aquatic conservation and has had high and continued impact. John has also extensively explored the impact of flower density and diversity on pollinator diversity.

During his MSc, John started work on the Dragonfly Biotic Index (DBI) and continued this work for his PhD research. The DBI is a habitat integrity measure, which is valuable for stream conservation and complementary to the South African Scoring System, a rapid biomonitoring method for streams and rivers. John’s MSc thesis also explored the controversial topic of challenging the way IUCN defines the concepts of ‘area of occupancy’ and ‘extent of occurrence’, and he clearly showed the impact that the large-scale mapping approach can have on aquatic invertebrate species mapping and spatial analysis, and ultimately the conservation of freshwater invertebrates.

John has authored and co-authored a number of publications and journals, including a practical freshwater assessment handbook, using the DBI, which was published by the South African National Botanical Institute. His work has had local, national and international impact, both academically and on a practical level. His papers which focus on the DBI have had a national and an international impact as they challenge the way that ‘traditional’ aquatic biomonitoring is done and thought about.



Dr Christopher Hassall

Dr Christopher Hassall’s research focuses mainly on the ecology and evolution of insect mimicry, using a network of experimental sites in the UK and Canada to evaluate the evolutionary consequences of ecological decoupling of mimicry systems in time and space. To aid the science communication aspect of his work, Dr Hassall ran a series of events for schools as part of the Leeds Festival of Science.

Dr Hassall’s work also explores the link between biodiversity and environmental attitudes, something he is currently exploring in a new collaboration with a health cohort study in Bradford. The collaboration explores the contributions of school ground biodiversity to perceptions of nature, with a particular focus on insects, to quantify the benefits that school-based green space can have for children.

Dr David George

Dr David George has contributed a great deal to entomological science, in particular the fields of veterinary and agricultural pest management, and the promotion of beneficial insects on farmland. He is Director of Entomology & Sustainable Agriculture at Stockbridge Technology Centre, and is heavily involved with the Royal Entomological Society, including as co-editor of the Society’s bulletin, Antenna.

David’s work has contributed directly to commercial pest control, through the registration of a number of products for professional use and research that has informed the development of pesticides. He has been involved in collaborative research in the UK and overseas, publishing over 35 papers in peer-reviewed journals and having his work presented at more than 70 entomological meetings around the word.

Dr Donald A'Bear

Donald A’Bear has completed some novel work on the role of soil invertebrates in the ecosystem processes of woodland habitats. He is widely published and has delivered a number of well-received talks, including at the International Conference on Entomology in 2012 where he was approached by the editor of Biological Control to write a review on his research field.

Donald has received considerable attention through his publications. His Global Change Biology paper, which showed that springtail (Collembola) grazing in woodland soils can mitigate the impacts of climate-induced mineralisation and decomposition of fungal communities, received positive UK media attention.  He is committed to encouraging other in their learning and has shown a great deal of support to young researchers.

Dr Tom Oliver

Dr Tom Oliver has quickly become an internationally renowned entomologist and researcher as a result of his work on insect conservation and land ecology. He completed his PhD on ant-aphid interactions in 2007, and since then has worked on a number of insect species and focused on the landscape-level ecological processes that drive species to respond to environmental change.

Dr Oliver aims to provide novel scientific evidence and discussion about the ecology that should inform conservation decisions. Over the last few years he has made a number of collaborations and published over twenty articles in high impact ecology and entomology journals. His research has been presented at a wide range of scientific conferences and he has presented a number of public lectures. There has been much media attraction to his work and Dr Oliver continues to increase public understanding of the value of biodiversity, especially insects.

Dr Jenni Stockan

Jenni Stockan studied entomology at Aberdeen University, before moving on to work as a Research Assistant for the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute in 2002. She began a part-time PhD in 2008, focusing on the effect of conservation management strategies of riparian vegetation on insect communities. Her research addresses the pros and cons for biodiversity, and that of beetles in particular, of buffering lowland waterways, an issue of some controversy amongst conservationists.

Jenni is particularly involved with wood-ant conservation. She has been successful in securing funding for a BTCV Natural Talent Apprentice on pinewood invertebrates for the Wood Ant Steering Group and has organised a Wood Ant Symposium in Aberdeen that was attended by specialists from all over the UK and Europe. Jenni is widely published and has trained and supported European placement students, showing great determination and enthusiasm in her work.