IAm the Bug Whisperer. AMA!
Hi everyone! My name is Aaron Rodriques and I am a PhD student in Entomology at Purdue University. I'm doing this AMA with some help from Atlas Obscura, who's written about the live shows I do with my pet insects. I have both a Master’s degree in Biology and a Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from New York University. My research experiences include studying bee ecology, mosquito developmental biology, brown rat behavior, oncology and tobacco hornworm defense systems. I currently study proteins in German cockroaches that cause asthma in humans, and my long-term career goal is to create a vaccine against cockroach-derived asthma.
I’ve always had a passion for insects and other animals, dating back from when I was 2. They’re absolutely amazing in their diversity of appearances, abilities and the roles that they play in different ecosystems. In the spirit of celebrating animals I regularly do animal shows for art venues, elementary schools and universities. My presentation is an informal show-and-tell, a Q A session where guests can touch and hold the animals under my supervision while I inform them about the animals and answer whatever questions they may have.
My interview with the New York Times can be found here: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/29/nyregion/cockroaches-are-his-friends.html
EDIT: Signing off for now. Thanks for the questions!