Turpin, Tom 1943- (Frank Thomas Turpin)

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Turpin, Tom 1943- (Frank Thomas Turpin)


Born June 4, 1943. Education: Washburn University, B.S., 1965; Iowa State University, Ph.D., 1971.


Office—Purdue University, Department of Entomology, 901 W. State St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2089. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, entomologist, and educator. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, professor of entomology and instruction development specialist, Center for Instructional Excellence. Guest on entomology radio program, WBAA radio.


Flies in the Face of Fashion, Mites Make Right, and Other Bugdacious Tales, Purdue University Press (West Lafayette, IN), 2006.

Author of biweekly newspaper column on entomology.


Writer and educator Tom Turpin is an entomologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He serves as a professor of entomology and an instruction development specialist at Purdue's Center for Instructional Excellence. He teaches a variety of classes on insects for both freshmen level and more advanced students. Turpin's classes cover topics such as insects in prose and poetry, agricultural history, beekeeping and honeybee life, and the management of insect pests in field crops. He writes a biweekly newspaper column on general entomology, participates in a monthly radio call-in show on insects, and conducts some thirty programs a year for county extension offices covering entomological issues in agriculture and family life, according to a biographer on the Purdue University Department of Entomology Web site.

Among his other accomplishments at Purdue, Turpin is the creator of the university's annual "Bug Bowl," an educational event that celebrates and highlights all manner of bugs, insects, and crawling creatures. The Bug Bowl attracts attendees of all ages, and offers educational programs as well as hands-on activities and contests. In addition to learning about both beneficial and invasive species of insects, participants in the Bug Bowl can participate in a cricket-spitting contest, examine insects under a microscope, watch cockroach races, get hands-on experience at an insect petting zoo, and learn about the use of insects as food. Though many people may look on insects with distaste, bugs and humans have long coexisted and continue to have deeply interconnected lifestyles. "While they're here, people can pick up good information on the role of insects in nature and entomology," Turpin stated on the Purdue University News Web site. In another article on the Web site, Turpin makes sure that readers realize that insects are not just distasteful creatures, but have genuine benefits and, in some cases, an indispensable role to play in agriculture. "Insects benefit people because of products like honey and silk. They pollinate our crops and help clean up the environment by getting rid of dead stuff," Turpin stated.

Turpin is the author of Flies in the Face of Fashion, Mites Make Right, and Other Bugdacious Tales, a breezy history and appreciation of insect life on Earth. Offering a "chatty and pun-filled narrative, Turpin imparts quite a bit of entomological knowledge and makes learning about insects fun," commented Nancy Bent in a Booklist review. Turpin's appreciation for insects ranges over a wide variety of subjects. He notes that insects have been on the earth much longer than humans—as much as 350 times longer. Ancient Egyptians worshipped the scarab, otherwise known as the dung beetle, because they thought it represented the creation of life. He describes the use of insects in medicine, noting such facts that maggots have been used to prevent infection and to safely eat away dead tissue in wounds. Ants were probably used as the first medical sutures, he notes, when they were beheaded and their strong jaws used to hold shut the edges of wounds. He relates the profound contributions to science that have been made by fruit flies. He notes a number of facts about bugs: the horsefly can fly without a head; ants have warlike tendencies and will sometimes attack and conquer other ant groups, taking the defeated ones as slaves; only female bees have the capacity to sting; and butterflies use their elaborate markings and colors not as simple aesthetic decoration, but as a warning to predators to avoid them because they taste horrible.

"This book is a good place to start if you want to learn all about the tiny creatures of the world," remarked Amelia Briggs, writing in Odyssey. A Children's Bookwatch reviewer called the book "a most enjoyable and educational browse for readers of all ages," while a SciTech Book News contributor named it "accessible, informative, and just slightly crunchy."



Booklist, May 1, 2006, Nancy Bent, review of Flies in the Face of Fashion, Mites Make Right, and Other Bugdacious Tales, p. 59.

Children's Bookwatch, November, 2006, review of Flies in the Face of Fashion, Mites Make Right, and Other Bugdacious Tales.

Odyssey, April, 2007, Amelia Briggs, review of Flies in the Face of Fashion, Mites Make Right, and Other Bugdacious Tales, p. 48.

SciTech Book News, September, 2006, review of Flies in the Face of Fashion, Mites Make Right, and Other Bugdacious Tales.


Bug Bowl Web site,http://www.entm.purdue.edu/bugbowl/ (March 17, 2008).

Purdue University Department of Entomology Web site,http://www.entm.purdue.edu/ (March 17, 2008), author's curriculum vitae.

Purdue University News Web site,http://news.uns.purdue.edu/ (March 16, 2001), Mindy Reef, "Purdue Bug Bowl Draws Folks Like Flies to Honey"; (March 27, 2008), "Purdue Bug Bowl."