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ARSX 2020

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Latest News

May 28, 2020 - Congratulations ARSX 2020 Winners! Three teams won! If you missed it, you can still watch the final event.


Handheld Device for Assessing Plant Health - This innovation is a handheld device to be used in the field for early detection of Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, which is spread by an insect present in most citrus-producing areas of the US. - Cheryl Armstrong, Joseph Capabianco, Yongping Duan, Wan Shih, Wei-Heng Shih

Novel Feed-Based Therapeutics for Honey Bees - The goal of this innovation is to develop novel Single Cell Protein (SCP) for commercial bee keepers to incorporate into bee feeds for the distribution of feed-based therapeutics to large numbers of bee colonies. - Vincent Ricigliano, Michael Simone-Finstrom, Kate Ihle, James Thomson, Tyler Williams

Delivering Real-Time Crop Pest/Pathogen Immunity - This innovation is a real-time immunization method to modify plant traits including, but not limited to, those to fight pest or pathogen attacks. - Robert Shatters, Rodney Cooper, Michelle Heck, Jim Thomson, Cindy McKenzie, Randy Niedz, Cristina Pisani, Marco Pitino, Ed Stover






Accelerating Production of New Biological Control Agents of Weeds

Lincoln Smith, Ikju Park, Thomas Coudron, Franklin Arthur, William Morrison, George Yocum

Pacific West, Plains

Delivering Real-TIme Crop Pest/Pathogen Immunity

Robert Shatters, Rodney Cooper, Michelle Heck, Jim Thomson, Cindy McKenzie, Randy Niedz, Cristina Pisani, Marco Pitino, Ed Stover

Southeast, Pacific West, Northeast

Novel feed-based therapeutics for honey bees

Vincent Ricigliano, Michael Simone-Finstrom, Kate Ihle, James Thomson, Tyler Williams

Southeast, Pacific West  

Emerging Pathogen and Pest Toolbox

Niklaus Grunwald, Rex Nelson, Minica Poelchau, Gerard Lazo, Frank Martin, Matt Rouse, Surya Saha, Jeff Chang, Melodie Putnam

Pacific West, Midwest, Northeast

Enhancing Plant Immunity to Necrotrophic Pathogens

Weidong Chen, William Underwood

Pacific West, Plains 

Eradication of the cattle fever pathogen, Babesia bovis

Brian Rector, Glen Scoles

Pacific West, Northeast

Handheld Device for Assessing Plant Health

Cheryl Armstrong, Joseph Capabianco, Yongping Duan, Wan Shih, Wei-Heng Shih

Northeast, Southeast

Receptor interference technology for novel insecticide discovery

Man-yeon Choi, Jana Lee, Bob Vander Meer

Pacific West, Southeast

Reversible Biocides

William Hart-Cooper, Paul Pratt, Jennifer Wilson-Welder, Jong Kim, Xiaohua He,  Kaj Johnson, Erica Schapiro, James McManus, Luisa Cheng

Pacific West, Midwest

Topical application of double-stranded RNA for weed suppression

Matthew Tancos, Michelle Heck


April 2, 2020 - We had an outstanding response to the ARSX2020 challenge on Disruptive Species with 69 completed applications. Proposals are currently being reviewed, and 10 finalists will be announced the week of April 6, 2020. Finalists will participate in the ARSX2020 Hackathon on May 27, 2020. During this virtual event, finalists will be afforded the opportunity to further develop their ideas and pitch their proposals to a panel of judges, who will determine the ultimate winner or winners.

The Problem

Disruptive pests and pathogens are a major threat to biosecurity, adversely impacting agricultural yields, the economic stability of both producers and consumers, natural resources, and human health. In the United States alone, invasive species cause damages and losses to agricultural and native ecosystems valued at over $120 billion per year. Crop and forest production losses account for a third of that cost. In many cases, a changing climate exacerbates the problem, creating new conditions in which invasive species may thrive and spread.

The Opportunity


 The ARSX2020 Competition will award up to $100,000 in prize money for one or more proposals that address disruptive agricultural or livestock pests and pathogens in an innovative manner with potential for scalable results. Successful proposals will demonstrate the potential to predict, prevent, detect, control, and/or eliminate disruptive pests over a large geographical scale, over a large timescale, and/or with significant economic benefits.

Proposals fall within one of four thematic areas:

  1. Stopping Invaders at the Gate – innovations that can prevent the introduction or provide early detection of invasive and disruptive pests and pathogens on agricultural ecosystems.
  2. Strengthening Immunity – innovations that confer enhanced resilience to disruptive pests and pathogens among agricultural crops or livestock.
  3. Eliminating the Threat Within – innovations that can lead to eradication of invasive species, disruptive pests, or pathogens without harming the natural environment or human health.
  4. Futures Prediction – innovations that predict the future invasion of disruptive pests and pathogens due to climate change and make information available and accessible to American farmers (e.g. public data dissemination, camera traps, social media feeds, citizen scientist generated content, GIS, satellite, etc.).

Up to three finalist proposals will receive awards.

The Process

Applications were accepted and reviewed up until February 2020. Scoring was primarily based on a proposal's potential impact and the novelty of its approach. Project feasibility was also assessed but ARSX2020 encouraged new and big ideas, even in early stages. Each proposal was evaluated by multiple independent reviewers in a transparent, double-blind process, and all submissions will receive feedback.

The initial review identified 10 finalists. Those teams are invited to participate in the inaugural ARSX2020 Hackathon. The Hackathon will create space to refine and iterate on initial proposals with the additional input of relevant subject-matter experts and pitch coaches. Finalists will then pitch their innovations to a panel of judges and an audience of their colleagues and peers.

The Reward:

The expertise of ARS scientists has the potential to solve big problems for the American farming community. With an emphasis on creativity, ARSX2020 is designed to harness that potential.


ARSX2020 Game

xCheck out our ARSX2020 game* that our creative design team partners put together.


ARSX2020 Documents

ARSX2020 Problem Statement.pdf