Faculty Spotlight: Jeff Bradshaw

Jeff Bradshaw
Meet Jeff Bradshaw, Professor of Entomology and Director of the Doctor of Plant Health program.
July 2, 2024

Lincoln, Neb. —

What is your background before coming to the University of Nebraska Lincoln?

I grew up in Peoria, Illinois, and have been told that since 3 years of age I’ve said, “I want to be an entomologist.” So, saying that I enjoy being an entomologist would be an understatement – this is my dream job! Despite growing up in a big city, I was heavily engaged in 4-H insect collections through a local 4-H club, collecting my first insect (a golden tortoise beetle) on June 8, 1984 – 40 years ago! I earned an undergraduate degree at Southern Illinois University in wildlife biology and a master's at that same institution in zoology with a specialization in invertebrate biology. There I studied the biology and ecology of a group of insects called assassin bugs with one of the world experts. From there I was accepted as a doctoral student at Iowa State University where I earned two doctoral degrees – one in Entomology and one in Plant Pathology – studying the bean leaf beetle and a virus it transmits in soybean called bean pod mottle virus. Following graduation, I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois with the Energy Biosciences Institute where I worked with a team of scientists studying the potential pests of biofuel feedstock grasses such as switchgrass and miscanthus grass. From there I accepted an opportunity to join the faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in January 2010 at the Panhandle Research, Extension, and Education Center as an Extension Specialists where I worked until 2023 when I moved to Lincoln and accepted an additional role as Director of the Doctor of Plant Health program.

What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

I am Professor of Entomology and Director of the Doctor of Plant Health program! I conduct research on the Integrated Pest Management of insects in semi-arid agricultural systems. I also teach “Pest Management Systems.”

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

As I indicated, I’ve wanted to be an entomologist for a very long time. Although there are many ways to serve society as an entomologist, for me, “being an entomologist” has always meant being a Professor of Entomology. I applied and interviewed for faculty positions in 2008-2009 and UNL was one of the institutions that provided me with an opportunity. The opportunity to serve as an Extension Specialist working on the diverse crops and cropping systems in western Nebraska (at PREEC in Scottsbluff) certainly drew me here. However, what kept me here has been the opportunity to work with some truly wonderful faculty and staff both at PREEC and in the Department of Entomology.  

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

Since moving to Lincoln in 2023 and taking on the additional role of Director of the Doctor of Plant Health program (https://dph.unl.edu/), I have really enjoyed working with our DPH graduate students. I really enjoy thinking strategically with our students about how to grow their futures in plant health and working with them on their learning objectives while in our program. They are all so creative and passionate about making a difference for a sustainable future for plant health in agriculture and natural resources. Additionally, our DPH alumni are some of the most amazing champions for our program and they help keep me motivated to grow our program in creative ways. I just feel so fortunate to have this special role.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My greatest professional achievement thus far would probably be earning the rank of full professor at UNL. However, being elected to Branch and Section President roles for the Entomological Society of America ranks pretty high up on my list as well.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I’ve been involved in percussion and set drums for most of my life. I’ve played in private drum core, orchestra, symphony, and small jazz ensemble. I played a drum kit in a rock band and a community jazz band throughout my undergraduate years. I played in a 20-piece big band jazz orchestra, “High Society Big Band” throughout my graduate studies at Iowa State University.

What is your life like outside of work?

Life outside of work has changed a lot for me this year as my wife and I continue to adapt and enjoy our new life and home in Lincoln. We are frequently looking for opportunities to get out and bike the trails around Lincoln. This spring I’ve been focusing on projects around the house, such as building and installing several raised garden beds in our yard and completing my woodworking shop so that I can start constructing my own insect collection cases once again. 

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Entomology | plant science