Candidates for the Southeastern Branch Election

Elections will be held by electronic ballot and voting will open January 29, 2020 and close February 28, 2020 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time US. For additional information on voting, please refer to the ESA voting instructions

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President-Elect Candidates

Dr. Michelle Samuel-Foo joined Alabama State University (ASU)  in January 2018 as an assistant professor, where she is engaged in teaching and research. Dr. Foo graduated with a MS degree in Agronomy, and a PhD in Entomology from the University of Georgia. She also holds a B.A. in Biology (Summa Cum Laude) from Brewton Parker College, Mt Vernon, GA.

After graduate school, Dr. Samuel-Foo joined the University of Florida (UF) as a faculty member in IFAS. There, she spent ~10 years working in specialty crop pest management, and served as regional coordinator for the USDA-NIFA federally funded IR-4 minor use program. 

Dr. Samuel-Foo has served two terms as president of the International Association of Black Entomologists (IABE), and has served on several committees for the Southeastern Branch (SEB) of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) including the Education Committee, SEB Student Awards Committee, and she currently serves as the SEB branch representative to the Diversity and Inclusion National Committee. She has also judged student competitions at both, branch and national levels. 

Dr. Samuel-Foo’s current research program focuses on specialty crops and urban gardening. She recently spearheaded an initiative to develop an urban teaching garden on the campus to introduce minority students to entomology and sustainable agriculture. She is also working on developing an industrial hemp entomology research. Michelle is an avid fitness enthusiast. Outside of the University, when she isn’t mothering her 3 sons, she can be found at the gym or in the garden.

Dr. Jose Carlos Verle Rodrigues is a full Professor at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), San Juan, PR. He has been an active ESA member for the last 20 years. He directs a multi-agency project that established the first certified US offshore Center of Excellence in Quarantine & Invasive Species at UPR. Students from ten different countries received training in his laboratory facilities. Dr. Rodrigues is also an Adjunct Professor in three Graduate Programs (Crop Protection, Biology, and Natural Sciences) at UPR and at Brazilian Amazon - BioNorte (Amazon Biodiversity and Biotechnology Network). He teaches a graduate course in Plant Virology and undergraduate courses in Scientific Research, and Invasive Species. Over the last ten years, he had successfully advised students, published in entomology and acarology papers, secured research grants (>$18mi) in these areas. He also, coordinated several national and international symposia and has been invited-speaker in numerous international fora. He is an active member of several scientific societies, and among other roles, serving as Local Organizer for SEB-ESA 2011 and 2021 un PR. Because of his outstanding volunteer work, Dr. Rodrigues has twice been the recipient of the US President's Medal Award for Volunteer Services. He also served as President for The Acarological Society of America (2011 and 2017), and Puerto Rico Agricultural Sciences Society 2018-2019. Since 2007, he has been a Fellow Member of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology, and Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation.

Secretary-Treasurer Elect Candidate

Dr. Brett Blaauw received his PhD from Michigan State University, which is where he first became a member of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Over the past 11 years Dr. Blaauw has been an active member of the society. He has been to every national meeting since joining ESA. As a student he participated in the student competitions. Now as a faculty member he volunteers to judge the competitions and instills the importance of ESA to his students, encouraging them all to be active members in the society. Additionally, he was the chair of the site selection committee and is currently local arrangements chair for the 2020 Joint Eastern Branch and Southeastern Branch Meeting. Furthermore, he has reviewed numerous manuscripts for ESA journals.

Apart from the society, Dr. Blaauw is currently an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist of Peach Entomology for both the University of Georgia and Clemson University. Additionally, he has extension responsibilities for a variety of other fruits, including apples and grapes. Dr. Blaauw's research and extension programs directly address southeastern fruit grower needs, highlighting the importance of IPM and the support of insect natural enemies and pollinators for the sustainability of southeastern fruit production. The results from his research provide the groundwork for developing pest management recommendations, which are published in one of the eight management guides where Dr. Blaauw is a contributor and/or editor. 

Dr. Blaauw is a hardworking entomologist who continues to show notable support and dedication to the society.

Member-at-Large Candidates

Dr. Kaushalya Amarasekare received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 2007 and completed a postdoc at the Oregon State University. Her postdoctoral research on biological control was a collaborative project with the UC-Berkeley, WSU and the USDA-ARS funded by a SCRI grant. In 2015, Dr. Amarasekare joined Tennessee State University as an Assistant Professor of Entomology with state-wide Extension responsibilities. She teaches courses in Entomology, mentors graduate students, and conducts research on IPM of fruits, vegetables and field crops.  Dr. Amarasekare’s research focuses on herbivore-induced plant volatiles as an attraction tool for natural enemies and a trapping mechanism for pests. She is also interested in lethal and sublethal effects of newer insecticides on lacewings and hemipteran predators. The overall goal of her program is to promote IPM among growers, small farmers, backyard and community gardeners in Tennessee. For her achievements, Dr. Amarasekare was selected as the 2019 TSU’s College of Agriculture's Outstanding Young Researcher. Dr. Amarasekare has been a member of ESA since 2001. She has served ESA in the capacity of reviewer of research articles of ESA journals, and as a judge and moderator of student competitions at the national and branch levels. Dr. Amarasekare has published 21 peer-reviewed publications and presented more than 50 research presentations at professional meetings. She is an active member of the Tennessee Entomological Society, and served as its award committee chair in 2018. Dr. Amarasekare is currently the local arrangement committee chair and a member of the TES award committee.

Kevin Chase is a research entomologist with the Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory. He received his BSc from Shippensburg University in ecology, his MSc from Mississippi State University in forest entomology and his PhD from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand in ecology. He also did a post-doc at the University of Minnesota in Brian Aukema’s forest entomology lab. Kevin has worked at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center, for the United State Department of Agriculture – APHIS, and as a utility arborist.

Dr. Muhammad Haseeb is an Assistant Professor and Project Director in the Center for Biological Control and Entomology Program, Florida A&M University (FAMU). Haseeb received his BS and MS degrees in agricultural entomology from Gomal University, Pakistan, and Ph.D. (2001) in horticultural entomology from Chiba University, Japan. He has been serving the land-grant mission of FAMU since November 2001. His research assignments are part of the long-term cooperative program with the USDA, ARS, and USDA, APHIS, PPQ to develop biologically based, environmentally safe, and sustainable strategies to control invasive pests on specialty crops. He has been recognized for his research and teaching works and achieved research excellence award in 2019 (FAMU) and teacher of year award (Florida Entomological Society) last year. Haseeb has published 51 articles based on his scientific findings. Also, he has presented these findings (>100 presentations) in 21 countries and organized 11 symposia. He has trained/training 15 graduate and undergraduate students in his research area. Haseeb has been a member of the ESA and SEB sine 2003. He has been serving the Society as a student competition judge and has chaired student oral presentations. Also, he has organized several symposia on the IPM of invasive insect pests. Haseeb is a member of P-IE section and also active member of the International Branch of the ESA. He has collaborated with researchers nation-wide on research programs and interacts regularly with growers, industry and commodity groups to facilitate the adoption of effective and sustainable solutions by stakeholders and clientele.

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