UF Online Student Researches Environmental Management Through Insects

In August of 2020, Kassandra Coulsey began her B.S. in Environmental Management at UF Online and joined the University of Florida’s Hayslip Biological Control Research and Containment Laboratory in Fort Pierce as a lab technician. Her passion for researching biological controls guided her to UF Online’s newly-available Minor in Entomology and Nematology, which focuses on the study of insects, mites, ticks, spiders, and nematodes. As UF Online’s first student to minor in entomology and nematology, Kassandra is forging new paths for online students in environmental sciences.


When Kassandra first explored her career options, she considered several scientific fields. “I was initially going to work in the medical field, but I found that I really resonated with my environmental management and chemistry classes,” she said. “When I found out about the fantastic UF Online program, I immediately connected with it.” She soon enrolled in UF Online’s environmental management program to study sustainability and natural disciplines, including entomology and nematology.

“I really resonated with the connections to sustainability and inclusion that UF has,” Kassandra said. “That stuck with me.”

Kassandra felt right at home both studying and working in environmental management at the University of Florida. “The field holds a wide breadth of interest for me, but biological control is truly my passion,” she said. “I love sustainability and getting things to be as holistic and natural as possible. Biological control is one of those great mechanisms that allow us to do that, but we first have to understand how everything works and how species interact with each other.”


UF Online’s flexible scheduling helped Kassandra balance multiple pursuits and passions. “I’m someone who’s always bouncing between different activities. There is always something to do, whether it’s studying, collecting insects, painting, gardening, or some other thing. UF Online’s flexibility has been amazing and crucial to my success,” she said. “I was able to complete the lab courses online and the professors made course completion a very attainable goal. You would think you’d have to be in a lab, but I was able to submit a lot of pictures, documentation, and samples by sending things up to the main campus instead of driving several hours from South Florida.”

“I started taking some entomology electives and was able to apply for the minor, which I was never expecting to do,” Kassandra described how it felt to be the first UF Online student to minor in entomology and nematology. “It’s been a fantastic experience.”

At UF Online, Kassandra found the support she needed to excel in her desired field of entomology. “Dr. Rebecca Baldwin (Associate Professor for Entomology and Nematology) has been the bee’s knees with advising me through the application process and coursework,” she said. “My boss, Dr. Carey Minteer (Assistant Professor, Weed Biological Control) has been a phenomenal resource, answering all of my questions and being pivotal support. Everyone I have had the pleasure to work with and learn from so far has been amazing and has helped me along this journey. I want to be able to help other people along their journeys in the future.”


Kassandra currently works to study different insect biological controls as a lab technician at the University of Florida’s Hayslip Biological Control Research and Containment Laboratory in Fort Pierce. “What I do for work really translates into my classes. Researching how different species interact and understanding the different food webs really got me into entomology,” she said. “While in the Arthropod Biological Control Lab, I researched Asian Citrus Psyllids and their known biological controls. In the Weed Biological Control Lab, I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects to control Brazilian peppertree and Earleaf acacia. I want to continue studying biological control. Currently, I’m particularly interested in citrus.” Working in the entomology field while simultaneously studying the discipline has been a dream come true for Kassandra.

“I have an amazing job as an aspiring entomologist,” Kassandra said. “How many people get to work with bugs in paradise?”

After graduating from the University of Florida this August, Kassandra is preparing for her future in the field. “I will continue working at the Biological Control Lab, although in a new position,” she said. “I feel incredibly lucky, as I was recently accepted to the UF Entomology & Nematology Master’s Program. It’s my next step in being an entomologist.”

UF Online celebrates Kassandra’s dedication to environmental management and sustainability while both studying and working at the University of Florida. As the first UF Online student to minor in entomology and nematology, she helped expand access and opportunities for other students interested in the field. We wish her luck in all her future endeavors!


With an online environmental management degree, you can make an impact on the well-being and health of our planet and its people. Learn from UF faculty in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and begin shaping a sustainable future. As a top-ranked undergraduate program in the nation, UF Online offers a variety of majors and minors ranging from Liberal Arts, STEM, Business, and more. To learn more about UF Online’s environmental management program, visit the degree page or attend an upcoming virtual information session. To learn more about minoring in entomology and nematology through UF Online, please visit its minor page.