Joe Kaser - Ph.D. Candidate

Personal Website

Joe KaserAdvisor

George Heimpel
Lab Website


Roseburg, Oregon

Research Topic

I’m widely interested in insect ecology. In particular, I’m interested in the ecological interactions of introduced populations, like invasive species, classical biological control agents, and genetically engineered insects. My PhD research centers on invasive species management, biological control, and ecological risk-benefit analysis. I’m studying how traits that we use to predict safety of classical biological control agents may also influence, and at times conflict with, how successful the agents are at causing our desired outcome (i.e. the reduction in harm caused by the target invasive species).

Previous Education

B.A. Zoology - University of Wisconsin, Madison
M.S. Entomology - Oregon State University

Why Insects?

Virtually any interesting question I can think of in ecology or evolution could be studied by looking at an insect system because insects have such amazing diversity.

Why University of Minnesota?

I was attracted to the diversity of expertise among faculty and students in the Entomology department and in other departments on campus (e.g. Ecology, Evolution and Behavior). I was impressed by the level of personal interaction among researchers and, in particular, among the Entomology graduate students. I think it is incredibly important in science to work in an environment with strong and frequent intellectual discourse, which certainly occurs at UMN. The opportunity to work with my advisor, George Heimpel, and the other members of his lab, was also a key factor in making my decision to attend UMN.


I would like a research position in insect ecology and evolution at a major university or government agency.

Favorite Insect

I don't have a favorite. An insect that is cool, which I just learned about, is Helaeomyia petrolei(Diptera: Ephydridae), the oil fly. Its larvae are found in crude petroleum fields where they submerge themselves and feed on other invertebrates that become trapped in the oil.

Other interests/hobbies

I like playing music poorly and listening to music well. I also dry-cured salami once and read a book on charcuterie, but I don't think it qualifies as a hobby, yet.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. I like tea, too.