Grace Hodges profile

Grace Hodges has a bug on the brain.

The invasive insect in question is the spotted lanternfly, which she has been studying in depth with the Temple Ambler Field Station supported by a Temple University Creative Arts, Research And Scholarship (CARAS) Program grant.

"I've particularly enjoyed the invasive species research I've been involved with the Field Station. I'm working with Dr. (Brent) Sewall on the Field Station's ongoing spotted lanternfly project along with my own research," said Hodges, who recently graduated with a degree in Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity (EEB) from the College of Science and Technology. "I applied to the CARAS grant program that Temple offers. I was awarded funding and I became a Field Station Research Intern, which is a great opportunity. I  had access to the professional development and the feedback that all of the interns receive while also conducting my own research."

The Temple University Office of the Provost and the Deans of Temple University's Schools and Colleges provide the CARAS funding opportunity "to encourage and support undergraduate students engaged in scholarly, creative, and research projects that contribute to advancing their field of study." Research/Creative Project Grants provide undergraduate students grants of up to $4,000 in support of scholarly, research or creative arts projects undertaken with the supervision of a Temple faculty mentor.

"With funding from the CARAS grant, I'm looking at the impact of the application of the insecticide dinotefuran  to the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and how it affects the spotted lanternfly populations that we are collecting from those trees," said Hodges, who is continuing her research with the Field Station this summer. "The goal is to see if there are any differences between male and female spotted lanternflies. We're most worried about the female spotted lanternflies because they are the ones that continue to reproduce and lay eggs. Determining whether or not the insecticide has an effect on those populations, will allow us to consider if that is still a good method to continue with."

The CARAS grant, Hodges said, "is a huge accomplishment for me."

"It's great to be recognized as a potential researcher and it will be really terrific to complete that project and have a written manuscript and poster presentations," she said. "It's all just wonderful professional experience that I may not have had elsewhere."

According to Hodges, her interest in nature and the world around her came at an early age.  

"I grew up really enjoying nature and being very curious about it; how diverse it was and why things were the way they were," said Hodges, who transferred to Temple from the College of Wooster in Ohio. "I think the ecology track of my major really attracted me because I love learning about all of the systems that contribute to and interact with each other — how bugs influence plants and how those influence the environment. Those big system connections were something I really enjoyed discovering more about."

Hodges arrived at Temple Ambler, she said, "after Dr. Sewall had advertised a summer course that took place at the Ambler Campus."

She subsequently reached out to Field Station Acting Director Mariana Bonfim "and ended up becoming a field technician for the spotted lanternfly project and then a Field Station Research Intern," she said.

"Temple Ambler has been a wonderful resource for me. I have a huge connection to nature and the resources of the Field Station and Temple Ambler's Library — I've taken the bus up the Ambler Campus Library during finals week and studied for a few hours; it's a wonderfully comfortable and engaging environment," she said. "I get so much out the hands-on research I'm involved with through the Field Station — I get a lot of practice within field observation and data collection skills, which are very important. I will likely continue to be either a field technician or possibly pursue a graduate degree. Having that experience and those skills — the understanding of not only field work but also data analysis and working with that in the lab — is essential for being able to continue and move forward with my career."

While at Temple, Hodges has also taken the time to help other students who are just beginning to experience the research possibilities at Temple.

"I also work with the Undergraduate Research Peer Mentor Program. I was paired with a freshman during the spring 2024 semester," she said. "Through the program, I have the opportunity to give other students some guidance and help them determine what interests they would like to pursue at Temple. It's a nice check-in for them and it's great for me to offer up some opportunities that are available and help them to create those connections."

Degree in hand, "I plan to work for a year or two to continue to build on my professional experiences after years devoted to schoolwork."

"Eventually I'd like to pursue either a master's or a PhD — I have so many different interests, I need to narrow down my field of study before applying to a specific program," she said. "I think taking advantage of the opportunities available to students like the Field Station is a great way to get yourself experience and build technical, research, and field-oriented skills as you continue forward toward your career. I would say to other students that they should explore a little bit with their classes — I've stumbled upon some interests that might not specifically connect to my degree but were very cool to study!"  

Students gain advanced training by engaging in hands-on research internships that bring alive the excitement of science through an inquiry-based experience. Student interns work alongside researchers in the field to support ongoing projects and can develop investigations of their own.

Students interested in becoming a Field Station Research Intern, should reach out to the Temple Ambler Field Station at with their name, why they are interested in working with the Field Station, current transcripts, and current resumé.  

Learn more about the Temple Ambler Field Station at