James Miksanek, Ph.D. Student

James MiksanekAdvisor(s) George Heimpel

Previous Education

B.S. in Ecology & Field Biology, St. Cloud State University


Rochester, MN

Research Topic

Parasitoid ecology/biological control of the soybean aphid and impact on native communities

Why Insects?

Insects are beautiful, stunning, intricate organisms, and the group is so expansive virtually any ecological concept can be studied with them. I especially love solitary wasps, which have fascinating life histories, behavioral patterns, and reproductive mechanisms.

Why University of Minnesota?

I came to the University of Minnesota because I was interested in working with both agricultural and native ecosystems. It's also great to be at an institution with such a great extension program—UMN is an incredible resource for communities all over Minnesota (my home state!), and I'm happy to be a part of that.


I'm interested in working in entomology as it's related to agricultural systems and conversation ecology, probably in a research position through a university (although I'd like to teach a class or two as well). I'm also considering a role as an entomologist with the USDA or Forest Service.

Favorite Insect

Definitely the praying mantis. I recently found drawings of oothecae and hatchlings I made when I was about ten years old, so apparently this one's a long-standing favorite. I also love Ammophila spp. (thread-waisted wasps). They're beautiful little creatures to watch, and apparently pretty smart, too—one once was observed using a tool. 

Other interests/hobbies

I enjoy playing guitar and mandolin—I have a bit of a background in classical violin and jazz guitar, but I typically write folk/bluegrass music.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee, please. Or tea in the winter.