Severin-McDaniel Insect Research Collection
Entomology had an auspicious beginning in 1888 with its first graduate, John M. Aldrich, from the then South Dakota Agricultural College. Aldrich became the foremost North American dipterist (fly specialist) of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He earned his M.S. from the University of Kansas in 1893 and then became the first entomologist, as a professor of zoology, on the faculty of the University of Idaho. The University of Idaho Department of Plant, Soils, and Entomological Sciences still has their entomology club named in Aldrich's honor. While on a sabbatical, he earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University. He subsequently worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in West Lafayette, Ind., and then was promoted and transferred to the Smithsonian Institution's U.S. Museum of Natural History as an associate curator and custodian of Diptera.
Since the times of John Aldrich, the Severin-McDaniel Insect Research Collection (SMIRC) has been a public-service facility that serves the citizens of South Dakota and the northern Great Plains region on natural heritage and biological-diversity issues related to insects and other arthropods. Under the guidance of Severin and his successors, the SMIRC became the largest insect collection in the northern Great Pains, with present estimated holdings of 1.2 million specimens.
The SMIRC provides taxonomic and systematics support to a broad spectrum of research, teaching, Extension, and service needs. The SMIRC is the sole site in South Dakota for documentation of the regional arthropod fauna, which is conducted through the Biological Diversity of the Dakotas project. Specimens vouchered in the SMIRC are used in research on insect taxonomy and systematics, scientific validation of research results, detection of invasive species, community analysis, and biodiversity projects in grasslands, wetlands, and forests. The SMIRC is funded by grants and contracts and by donation through the SDSU Foundation Burruss McDaniel Insect Collection Endowment.