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RESEARCH INTEREST AND EXPERIENCE
I have interest in both basic and applied insect pest management specifically in fruit, vegetable and field crops integrated pest management (IPM). My other interests are insect behavior and chemical ecology, pesticide science, high tunnel pest management, development of attractants for pest monitoring, thresholds, biological control, evolution and systematics and sustainable/organic agriculture.
My basic research focuses on integrated pest management, insect behavior and chemical ecology in the context of evolution. Some of the basic questions my research is asking are: 1) why have some insects evolved to utilize certain plants but not others (generalist and specialist); 2) why some insects (natural enemies) are able to use volatiles produced by plants to locate their host (tritrophic interactions). My applied research goals is to develop and evaluate ecologically based management programs for insect pests and delivering these programs to growers.
Currently, I am working on several projects with my mentor at AU focusing on the development and implementation of IPM programs that will substantially reduce growers’ reliance on conventional pesticides, and ultimately decrease non-target effects and occurrence of toxic residues on fresh market fruit and vegetable crops. I have been conducting research (lab, greenhouse and field) on management of key pests of specialty crops in Alabama. Examples of my research projects include identification and evaluation of attractants, trap crops, biological control, insecticides, thresholds, and integration of tactics for the major pests of fruit crops such as leaf-footed bugs, brown, green and brown marmorated stink bugs, plum curculio and plum curculio. I am also looking at the suitability of certain farm-scaping plants as nectar source for a generalist (Cotesia marginiventris) and a specialist (Micropletis croceipes) parasitoid.
My training has helped me to acquire pertinent research skills in cutting-edge research techniques such as gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, electroantennogram, and behavioral techniques, which are useful in answering basic and applied questions in entomology. I have very strong statistical skills to design, conduct, analyze and interpret research results.
I am employed as a Research and Extension Associate (officially referred to as Research Fellow), Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, College of Agriculture, Auburn University. This position is a 60% research and 40% extension split. The responsibilities involve, but not limited to, assisting with the development, evaluation and delivery of IPM strategies and tools to support specialty crop production in Alabama. The focal commodities are peaches and Satsuma mandarin. Also, it involves assisting the State IPM Coordinator in the delivery and communication of IPM information to stakeholders in Alabama. Although I do not have a formal teaching appointment, I help some professors to teach courses in Economic Entomology and IPM at Auburn University.