A West Virginia State University (WVSU) administrator has been immortalized as an insect. A newly discovered species of beetle has been named in honor of Dr. Orlando F. McMeans, WVSU’s vice president for research and public service.
The beetle, named Pachybrachis mcmeansi Barney, was discovered by Dr. Robert J. Barney, professor emeritus at WVSU. Barney served in a variety of administrative roles at WVSU before retiring in 2015, including interim assistant vice president for research and public service and associate dean and associate director of WVSU’s Agricultural and Environmental Research Station.
“I wanted to name this beetle in honor of Dr. McMeans’ unwavering support of my research and professional advancement,” said Barney, who has named 20 new species of beetles throughout his career.
McMeans was notified of the discovery this month when he received an official plaque in the mail signifying the naming.
“When I opened up the package and saw ‘mcmeansi,’ I was a little bit overwhelmed,” McMeans said. “It’s exciting as a research scientist and a professional to sort of live on forever in name.”
McMeans joked that his family didn’t believe him when he told them about the beetle.
“My aunt looked up the name online,” he said. “She thought I was pulling her leg.”
The discovery was made during Barney’s comprehensive study of the beetles in genus Pachybrachis. It is black and yellow in color, reminiscent of WVSU’s school colors, and has been found in scattered distribution from Maine to Arkansas.
Upon realizing the species was unnamed, Barney’s process included thoroughly describing the new species, submitting to a journal for peer review and publication, and submitting a single specimen to an established museum for future reference. The Pachybrachis mcmeansi Barney will be in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.
(From Jack Bailey for West Virginia State University Communications and Marketing. Photo courtesy of West Virginia State University.)