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MSU students win spot at national insect trivia bowl

MSU students place second in the Linnaean Games, an insect trivia competition.

A team of Mississippi State University students knows their insects and has thesecond place win to prove it.

Four students from MSU’s Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology recently participated in the Linnaean Games, an insect trivia competition, at the Southeastern Branch of the Entomological Society of America’s annual meeting in Baton Rouge, La.

The Linnaean Games is a tournament of ten university teams competing to answer questions about entomology and bug-related topics. The top team is determined in a bracket-style playoff; each round of the tournament consists of 16 questions.

MSU’s team included undergraduate student Breanna Lyle and graduate students Andrew Adams, Arun Babu and David Plotkin. The team defeated Georgia, last year's national champions, to take second place behind North Carolina State. The MSU team will advance to the national trivia bowl this fall in Austin, Tex.

Doctoral candidate John Formby --who will serve as the team’s alternate at the national event -- coached the team’s biweekly practices and supplied them with questions from previous tournaments.

Team members said they learned much of the information in class, but faculty members also prepared the group for the games.

“Dr. Richard Brown gave us recommendations for certain subjects to study,” said Plotkin. “Dr. John Riggins, who has competed in the games, knew about general strategies and told us to always be fast on the buzzer.”

Riggins said this year's success was a grassroots effort led by the students; MSU had not competed in the games for several years.

“I think our students did great in the regional tournament and could win national,” Riggins said. “We have a well-rounded team of students with diverse backgrounds.” 

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