Learning has always been a passion for Erick Martinez Rodriguez. He grew up in rural San Antonio de Oriente, Honduras, and traveled two hours a day to attend grade school. His passion led him to graduate from the Pan-American Agriculture School, El Zamorano, in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture sciences and production.
In 2018, Erick studied the invasive Japanese beetle along with soybean and sugarcane aphids as a visiting scholar at the University of Missouri. From Missouri, he moved to The Ohio State University, where he researched greenhouse, field, and urban pests as a visiting scholar.
Erick began pursuing a master’s degree in entomology at OSU in 2022, and he was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi the same year. He is currently researching plant extracts as repellents and insecticides against mosquitos.
Erick has volunteered as an English tutor for many orphanages and low-resourced schools in his native Honduras and served as a member of Operation Smile. He has also volunteered with local animal shelters and recreational sports leagues in Ohio.
Let’s get to know Erick!
What does Phi Kappa Phi mean to you?
Phi Kappa Phi is a community of elite members joined by the desire to continue growing in all aspects of life—professionally, academically, socially, and personally. I was very honored to be invited and was drawn in by all the benefits, opportunities, and interactions you can obtain from being a member.
Why did you choose your field of study?
The concept of biological control has always fascinated me. I’ve always been intrigued by insects that feed or parasitize other insects, most of which destroy our food. This fascination led me to study agriculture and urban pests. As an intern at OSU, I had the opportunity to study both mosquitos and agriculture pests, which opened the door for me to study Entomology.
Where was your first job?
When I was around fourteen, I broke my wrist on the last day of school while attempting a spectacular save as a goalie in a soccer match. It was not the best way to start my summer vacation! I spent most of my days in bed watching TV and fighting with my siblings, all habits my parents did not appreciate. One day I was bored and shaved my head. That did it for my mom. She sent me to work at a local store for the rest of the summer and, get this, for free! In the end, it wasn’t really that bad. I got to know the store workers and frequent customers and enjoyed a lot of free snacks! I did learn my lesson, however. It’s not a good idea to test mom’s patience on a warm summer afternoon.
Do you travel back to Honduras often?
The last time I visited Honduras was in December 2021; however, the time before that was May 2018. I never stop thinking of my family. My sister is currently enrolled in college, and my brother is attending high school, and I feel like I’m missing the opportunity to guide them and help them mature.
What is your favorite TV series?
This is a tough question because I consider myself a TV aficionado. I’m into all types of shows, and I would have to say my favorite is between Netflix’s Mindhunter and HBO’s Game of Thrones.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
All my life, I’ve wanted to be a chef. My favorite movie growing up was Disney’s Ratatouille, and I spent many afternoons watching cooking shows with my grandmother. This was back when it took a whole hour to see the meal cooked from start to finish, not as efficiently as the 30-second TikTok videos available nowadays. Haha! My dream is to retire and manage my own restaurant as a hobby.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My undergraduate studies required me to prepare and defend a thesis during my senior year. It was challenging to conduct research and write a complete thesis while managing other responsibilities, and it required a lot of time. However, I really enjoyed the process, and it paid off. My thesis was selected as one of the best-graduating theses, and I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Entomological Society of America meeting held in Denver. It is very unusual for a student from my college to give a presentation abroad, so the university volunteered to cover all my expenses. Attending that meeting changed my plans and led me to where I am right now. Hard work does pay off!
What’s your favorite sports team?
I enjoy many sports, but my favorite sport to watch is soccer. I’m a huge fan of Italy’s AC Milan, and my dream is to attend an AC Milan versus Inter De Milan game.
How do you stay motivated?
I’m a very active person and work out at 6 a.m. every morning. I think it gives me the energy I need for my day. If you make yourself get out of bed and sweat for one hour, let me tell you, nothing will stop you during the day. By 8 a.m., your mind will be focused on what your next move is, while others are just waking up. You will gain two or three extra hours in your day and exercise your body and mind, so you are ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
What travel destination has been your favorite?
I’m Honduran and half-Ecuadorian on my mother’s side. I’ve lived in Ecuador and try to visit at least every four years. Let me tell you, it’s just amazing! There are many things to love about Ecuador, from beautiful beaches to volcanoes and jungles. However, I enjoy the food the most! The diversity and richness of their meals are incomparable to other countries I’ve been to.
To learn more about Erick and connect, visit his profile within our online member community here.
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