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1890 Partnerships - Crop Production and Protection
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The following is a list of ARS scientists in Crop Production and Protection research who are interested in hosting 1890 faculty members in their labs through the 1890 Faculty Research Sabbatical Program. This page will be updated on a rolling basis – please come back to visit again!

Seth Britch (Gainesville, Florida)

seth.britch@usda.gov; 302-388-3655

Researcher’s statement: Our research program consists of two complementary domains, (i) investigating the environmental limits of pesticide efficacy and developing novel integrated vector management (IVM) systems, and (ii) investigating historical associations between climate variation and population dynamics of disease vector mosquitoes and sand flies to develop predictive systems protecting endemic and emerging regions from severe vector borne disease. In (i) we conduct field and laboratory research in an array of ecological regions at field sites in Kenya, Thailand, Greece, California, South Carolina, and Florida, targeting a range of natural and laboratory reared populations of disease vector mosquitoes and sand flies with diverse combinations of application technology and botanical and synthetic adulticides, larvicides, and spatial repellents. A substantial focus in (i) is protecting U.S. military war fighters in austere field environments from severe nuisance and disease vector insects with the use of innovative IVM applications of military field materials and equipment and development of a Mobile Pesticide App decision support system. In (ii) we collaborate closely with NASA and DoD partners to develop landscape scale predictive models of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) activity in endemic regions of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and link these predictions through transport pathways to high-risk areas of the United States highlighted by historical climate-mosquito dynamics and seasonal environmental signals. A substantial focus of (ii) is analyzing >60 yr of U.S. mosquito collection records and long term normalized difference vegetation index and other remotely sensed climate data.     

Georgia Eizenga (Stuttgart, Arkansas)

Georgia.eizenga@usda.gov; 870-672-6104

Researcher’s statement

Our lab focuses on genetic improvement of cultivated rice using diverse rice species. The rice ancestral species which are closely related to the cultivated rice as it is grown today, contain genes lost during the domestication process.  The ultimate aim of this research is to identify these "lost" genes and incorporate them into currently grown U.S. rice varieties.  To rediscover these genes, we are examining a collection of ancestral rice species (Oryza species), the cultivated African rice and selected lines of the "Rice Diversity Panel 1", a collection of 424 rice varieties from around the world.  Studies are being performed to identify genes associated with yield, disease resistance, seedling cold tolerance and salt tolerance using genome-wide association mapping studies (GWAS), biparental mapping populations and chromosome segment substitution lines with SNP genotyping to identify candidate genes.

Alan Franzluebbers (Raleigh, North Carolina)

Alan.franzluebbers@usda.gov919 208-9344

Researcher’s statement: Research conducted in the Soil Ecology and Management Lab focuses on conservation approaches to achieve agricultural sustainability.  Current field-based projects are on silvopasture management (https://cefs.ncsu.edu/field-research/additional-research/agroforestry/), long-term farming systems management (https://cefs.ncsu.edu/field-research/farming-systems-research-unit/), and on-farm trials investigating improved N management of field crops.  Lab protocols emphasize soil health determinations, including total C and N and soil microbial activity.

Ryan Hayes (Corvallis, Oregon)

Ryan.hayes@usda.gov; 541-738-4125

Researcher’s statement: Forage, turf, and cover crop species are widely grown in the U.S. and are critical components of sustainable landscapes and agroecosystems. Most of the cool season grass seed used to plant these crops is grown in the Pacific Northwest due to the mild winters and dry summers that are ideal for their production. Research in disease resistance, plant pathogen diversity, development of plant disease decision aids, invertebrate pest population dynamics, and agronomy is conducted to support grass seed production. Breeding and genetics research to improve annual ryegrass as a cover crop, including crop termination and root exudate traits, is conducted to expand the crop’s use and support soil conservation across the U.S.

Louis Hesler (Brookings, South Dakota)

louis.hesler@usda.gov; 605-693-5228

Researcher’s statement: I am a Research Entomologist, and my current research interests include host-plant resistance to insects in various crops, with experience mainly in soybean and wheat.  I have also conducted research on beneficial insects, principally predators of insect pests, and I’m working to develop a research component dealing with insect pollinators as well.  My ARS research assignment broadly includes various strategies for managing arthropod crop pests, so there is plenty of latitude for establishing research ties with 1890 faculty.

Jose Ramirez (Peoria, Illinois)

jose.ramirez2@usda.gov; 309-681-6195

Researcher’s statement: Dr. Ramirez’s research include the study of multipartite interactions (insect-pathogen-symbiotic microbe interactions) to identify factors  that influence pathogen infection in the arthropod host. Current efforts also involve the isolation and characterization of entomopathogenic microbes to develop novel microbe-based biopesticides to control arthropod vectors and the pathogens they transmit.

Brian Rector (Reno, Nevada)

brian.rector@usda.gov; 775-784-6057

Researcher’s statement: My research is focused on classical biological control of invasive weeds; natural enemies (e.g. insects, mites, fungi) from the native range of an invasive weed species are evaluated in the laboratory/greenhouse and petitioned for release into the invaded range if they are found to be both damaging and highly host-specific. In addition to scientific literature searches, field surveys, and biological studies of weed natural enemies, research activities may also include taxonomic descriptions of new species and molecular genetic studies of weed and/or natural enemy populations, depending on one’s interests and expertise.  My research program focuses on important weeds of the arid western United States, but I would also be interested in collaborating on a study of an invasive weed from the applicant’s home region, which they could then continue at their home university after their sabbatical ends.

Kristin Trippe (Corvallis, Oregon)

kristin.trippe@usda.gov; 541-738-4181

Researcher’s statement: The mild, marine climate in the Willamette Valley of Oregon supports a broad diversity of seed crop rotations, including grass, clover, meadowfoam, and hemp. Crop management practices within this production system are equally diverse. While some farmers employ conventional practices that involve frequent tillage and bailing of crop residues, other farmers use one or more practices that are thought to improve the health of the soil including returning crop residues to the soil, infrequent tillage, and frequent rotations. Little is known about how these differing practices effect soil health, soil microbiomes, or pest and pathogen populations. The aim of our research program is to deepen this understanding and to determine if conservation farming practices improve yield or decrease costs.

Joshua Udall (College Station, Texas)

joshua.udall@usda.gov; 979-213-0137

Researcher’s statement: Crop germplasm research focuses on cotton, pecan, sorghum, and warm season grasses.  As a scientist, my primary interest is in the genetic diversity and domestication of cotton.  Here we maintain the National Germplasm Collection of cotton.  I use genomic approaches (genome sequencing) to identify regions of the cotton genomic that impact fiber and agronomic characteristics.

Christina Walters (Fort Collins, Colorado)

Christina.Walters@usda.gov

Researcher’s statement: My lab works on questions related to preserving viability of pollen or seeds and predicting shelf-life using various biochemical or biophysical tools. There are two major preservation platforms that we target: freezer (-20C) and cryogenic (-170 to -196C). We work on many different species; some of our favorites are oaks, citrus, coffee, cocoa and nut crops (cryogenic storage) or lettuce, sunflower, Brassica sp, soybean, pea and peanut (freezer storage). We are currently conducting research on feasibility of cryogenic storage or microbe collections.