Cascade Pest Control has established a scholarship for Washington State University (WSU) biology professor and alumna Dr. Laurel Hansen. Pest management specialist Hall of Fame (Class of 2015).
The Laurel Hansen Entomology Fund is used to support students and researchers in the Department of Entomology at the University.
The WSU Foundation of Snohomish, Wash., established the fund. after Kurt Treffs, founder and owner of Cascade Pest Control, received a $5,000 donation. The funds will be used for research in the fields of entomology, urban pest management and insect biology, particularly ants.
Dr. Hansen and Treffs have worked together for over 40 years.
“Dr. Laurel Hansen is one of the most influential people in our industry,” Treff said in a news release. She has become very dominant and friendly, and we are completely dependent on her.
Dr. Hansen, who has spent more than five decades working and teaching in the field of entomology, said she was surprised and impressed by the educational opportunity. She is currently an assistant professor at WSU and taught biology at Spokane Falls Community College for 51 years before retiring in 2020.
“The new funding will help bring the pest control industry up to date,” said Dr. Laura Levine, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology in WSU’s College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resources. Sciences. The department has received only four or five grants for urban entomology over the past 35 years, making this an “exceptionally rare grant,” according to a news release.
“There’s not a lot of money for research in urban integrated pest management, so this is a huge investment on the research side,” Dr Levine said. “Grants and scholarships like these ensure that work like this is done and not left behind.”
Dr. Hansen added, “I hope it will help someone pursue more urban interests in entomology.” The focus in entomology is on horticulture and agriculture, so urban areas are small.
Growing up as a farmer’s daughter near Davenport, Wash., agriculture has long been a part of Dr. Hanson’s life. She began her academic career at Eastern Washington University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences. She then received master’s and doctorate degrees in entomology from WSU in 1967 and 1985, respectively.
Recognizing her interest in social insects, Dr. Hansen plans to study termite behavior first for her Ph.D. However, after receiving some insect specimens from Treffs, he was encouraged by her mentor, Dr. Roger Acre, to turn to carpenter ants.
Over the years, Dr. Hansen’s teaching skills and her ability to make her research relevant have attracted the attention of those in the pest control industry. She has often witnessed in covers and boots, applying her studies on her own.
“I’ve been very successful with the industry because of two-way communication,” Dr. Hansen said. “I will go out on the field with them. I crawl under houses, I crawl on roofs, I go to investigate. I probably learned as much from them as they did from me. I like the interaction.”
The industry admires her down-to-earth nature and admires her willingness to do the dirty parts of the job, all with a sense of humor, Treifs said.
Dr. Hanson added how much she enjoys her teaching background and educational background that working with the pest control industry comes naturally.
She has written for several magazine and trade journals and co-edited three books on ants. She conducts seminars and ant identification workshops throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
“She is curious, open-minded, and genuinely cares about the needs of the citizens of Washington State when it comes to urban pest control. She took her information and knowledge and put it into action to educate others,” said Dr. Levin. “We all feel her influence. If you don’t have ants in your house, you can thank Dr. Laurel Hansen!”