On the road with CFANS

April 4, 2024

Sujaya Rao informed and delighted audiences with entomophagy at “University of Minnesota in Arizona” events

Sujaya Rao in Arizona.

Talk about deep and expansive science! Four U of M faculty members, including CFANS Department of Entomology Professor and Head Sujaya Rao, recently visited the Grand Canyon State to share some of our University’s wide-ranging efforts to create a more climate-resilient world through research, education, and advocacy.

At the “University of Minnesota in Arizona” event in Scottsdale — hosted by the U of M Foundation and attended by Interim President Jeff Ettinger  — Arizona-based alumni, donors, and friends were treated to a panel discussion focused on sustainability and how the U of M is innovating to achieve it. The invited faculty included Rao, Jessica Hellman from the Institute on the Environment, Paige Novak from the College of Science and Engineering, and Marek Oziewicz from the College of Education and Human Development.

Sujaya Rao and U of M Interim President Jeff Ettinger in Arizona.
Sujaya Rao and U of M Interim President Jeff Ettinger 

At the event, Rao participated in a panel discussion moderated by Hellman, and welcomed guests to an 18-by-8-foot entomology “discovery station” where they had the opportunity to sample food products made with insect protein and learn about entomophagy, the practice of eating insects as food. Entomophagy is common in many cultures around the world, with bugs on the menu as a delicacy or just a regular part of an everyday diet. Rao is an esteemed entomophagist who frequently speaks about the topic, including a recent TEDx Minneapolis event titled “Why We Should All Eat Bugs.”

Rao was joined by aerospace engineer and current Bell Museum planetarium education assistant Andrew Surine, who demonstrated his mechanical, self-automated box that can farm crickets for astronauts’ food on spaceships, which have strict limits on resources, size, and weight. Because crickets meet these standards, Andrew explored their use as food for astronauts, either raw or ground up into meal, for his UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) with Rao as his mentor. Surine majored in aerospace engineering and mechanics at the U of M with minors in astrophysics and insect science.

Following the event in Scottsdale, Rao and Surine traveled on to Tucson, where the pair brought their insect innovations to even more U of M alumni, donors, and friends.

Andrew Surine talks with guests at the Arizona event.
Andrew Surine discusses entomophagy with U of M alumni, donors, and friends 

If you are interested in having CFANS faculty come to your town for an engaging and educational science-themed event, please contact Mary Buschette — we’d love to discuss the possibilities!

Great Minnsect show 2024 logo.

And, don't miss the Great Minnsect Show 2024 on the Twin Cities St. Paul campus on April 20! It's a free public event showcasing the wondrous world of insects. Activities and fun for all ages, including live insects, insect games, insect food, insect crafts, and interactions with entomologists from academia, industry, government, and non-profits, and more!