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June 18, 2014

SVSU Professor Searching for Unknown Insects

Stephen Taber Earns Braun Fellowship

By Justin Engel

It's not uncommon this time of year to see Stephen Taber walking outside. He doesn't spend time outside for exercise. He is looking for something unusual. Unusual as in insects that have not been discovered. This research has resulted in Taber being awarded the Braun Fellowship to pursue his discovery of insects previously unknown to science.

The associate professor of biology will receive research support grants totaling up to $37,500 over the next three years to further his scholarly and professional activities.  Funds may be used for research expenses, equipment, travel and/or other related support.

Taber's project involves teaming with SVSU students in the search for insect species. He has discovered 20 new species unknown to science since joining SVSU in 2004. Taber maintains one laboratory at SVSU focused on insect studies; he has a second lab in the Manistee National Forest. Taber and his students will search for insects in the forest from spring to fall. His findings are expected to be published in journal articles that document new discoveries.

Taber is an award-winning faculty member. He received SVSU’s Warrick Award for Excellence in Research in 2013.

Taber has authored two books, The World of Harvester Ants and Fire Ants, both published by Texas A&M University Press, and co-authored three other books on plant and animal life in his native Texas. He also has written nearly 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, including 30 that have been written during his tenure at SVSU. Three of these have included SVSU students as named authors.

A resident of Saginaw, Taber completed a bachelor's degree at Texas A&M University, a master's degree at Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining SVSU, he received teaching excellence awards from the University of Texas at Austin and St. Edward's University.

Established in 2005, the Braun Fellowship program was created through a $1.5 million endowment from the Saginaw-based Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation.  Administered by the Saginaw Community Foundation, the program’s purpose is to recognize the exceptional accomplishments and potential of select SVSU faculty and staff.  It is named in honor of Ruth and Ted Braun of Saginaw.