Here at Western Exterminator, we believe that knowledge is power. Our founder, Carl Strom, was very enthusiastic about education, using the latest techniques and most effective products for pest removal. Because of his belief in higher education, Carl developed some of the early pesticides that the company would use later on. Keeping true to this principle, he believed that keeping an educated team and continued training in pest control would make his team the best by supporting entomology research and investing in top of the line training.
For many years, Western Exterminator had been a proud sponsor of the Western Exterminator Company/Carl Strom Scholarship, which recognizes the hard work of graduate and undergraduate students at the University of California Riverside studying entomology. Established in 1999, the scholarship is awarded to students working on projects that help the urban pest control industry in California.
This year we announced the winners of this scholarship to at the 26th annual University of California Riverside Urban Pest Management
Conference. We would like to congratulate this year’s recipients of the Western Exterminator Company/Carl Strom scholarship, Kevin Welzel, Levi Zahn, Mark Dery, and Shao Hung Lee (“Dennis” Lee). Read below to learn more about the recipients.
Kevin F. Welzel is a Ph.D. candidate in Dong-Hwan Choe’s laboratory at the University of California, Riverside and is will be graduating this year. He specializes in urban entomology, focusing on Argentine ant biology and pest management innovations. He received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for his ongoing work in developing innovative pest management strategies. He has patented and published a study on a pheromone-assisted baiting technique for Argentine ant pest management and is currently developing a new baiting technique utilizing RNAi to combat the Argentine ant. He was invited by The Walt Disney Studios to participate on the red carpet for Marvel’s Ant-Man movie premier where he assisted in the construction of a giant ant farm and answered questions about ants. Prior to his graduate career, he received a BA in Environmental Science from the University of California, Berkeley and worked 2 years in Napa Valley Ca and Parlier Ca, where he did biological control and pest management strategies in wine vineyards. He is an outdoor enthusiast, avid runner, and ultimate frisbee player.
Levi Zahn is currently a fourth-year graduate student at the University of California Riverside and is working towards a Ph.D. in veterinary entomology. His current focus is in the management of house flies, with focuses in house fly behavior, control, and surveillance methods. Through his research, he hopes to implement more targeted approaches for controlling pestiferous flies commonly found at the urban/rural interface.
Mark Dery attended Riverside Community College, where he received an associate degree prior to transferring to California State University, San Bernardino. Mark Dery completed an undergraduate degree in biology there while working in the lab of Dr. James Ferrari, where he studied the genetics basis of insecticide resistance in mosquito populations. Mark Dery is currently a first year entomology PhD student at the University of
California, Riverside working in the lab of Dr. Dong-Hwan Choe. His current research focuses on how bed bugs may interact with pathogenic fungi in their microhabitats.
Shao Hung Lee (“Dennis” Lee)
Shao Hung Lee is an undergraduate at UCR. He has researched the behavioral effects of Argentine ants’ (Linepithema humile) defensive chemicals. During his time spent in Dr. Choe’s lab, Shao Hung has explored various Argentine ant control methods, including bait improvement with gaster extract and RNA interference.
We are very proud of these students and are more than excited to see the next generation of entomology enthusiasts, who will no doubt shape the future of pest control in California and beyond. For more information about how you can keep pests out of your home or business, please contact Western Exterminator today!