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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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People and Outreach

February 2012

Chris Johnson (Bio Sci Tech) was a guest speaker at the Career & Technical Education Month Program at Joe Barnes Career & Technical Center with the West Bolivar School District in Rosedale, MS.

January 2012

January 20, 2012, Ryan Jackson participated as a committee member at the Ph.D. defense of Lucas Owen in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology.  The title of the dissertation was "Effects of defoliation in soybeans and susceptibility of soybean loopers to reduced risk insecticides.

Clint Allen attended the master's thesis defense of Wes McPherson, a student  in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology at Mississippi State, on January 20th


December 2011

Rosie Ford and Charles Lanford retired from the USDA ARS with 32 and 42 years of federal service, respectively.

November 2011

Les Price of SIMRU attended the 16th Annual Farm Ed Day in Memphis, TN on November 3, 2011. Since 2003 Les Price has volunteered as a presenter at the Farm Ed Day, a program designed to teach students and teachers about agriculture. The students and teachers are from a variety of schools both inner city public and private schools.  Local farmers, government, and universities participate in the communication of the importance of agriculture in our daily lives. Some have included catfish displays, corn, cotton, soybeans, and various livestock pens including poultry cages. Les has used hissing cockroaches, insect collections and live honey bees as a part of explaining both the positive and negative impacts of insects in agriculture. In 2010 Les showed a pollen trap and the variety of pollens that bees collect.  He then extracted a frame of honey.  Les helps teachers with planning and initiating projects for students to learn about scientific inquiry.  Les says the greatest aspect of his interaction is the stories of insect diversity in agrisystems, the pollinating bees and the communication that insects help to provide our food and fiber.

Clint Allen  served as President of the Mississippi Entomological Association during 2011.  Ryan Jackson and Randy Luttrell served as Executive Directors. 

Gordon Snodgrass received the Distinguished Service Award from the Mississippi Entomological Assocation.   This is the highest recognition bestowed on MEA members

OP Perera  submitted a photograph of  a Spine-Legged Redbolt (Rhodothemis rufa,  Rambur 1842) to the Entomological Society of America National Insect Exhibition.  The Spine-Legged Redbolt (Rhodothemis rufa, Rambur 1842) is one of the 116 dragonfly species found in Sri Lanka.  Dr. Perera's photograph was accepted by the Nature Section of the 2011 National Insect Exhibition of the Entomological Society of America.

August 2011

Clint Allen has been awarded a $7,000 grant from the United Soybean Board.  This grant will be used to screen the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection for genotypes that are less desirable to stink bugs as well as more resistant to the fungal pathogen Eremothecium coryli that is transmitted by stink bugs and causes yeast spot disease on beans.

Clint Allen is the principal ARS investigator of a grant recently received from the Cottton Foundation for the amount of $10,000.  The title of the grant is "The use of pollen to examine tarnished plant bug dispersal into cotton".  The project involves collecting tarnished plant bugs near the borders of cotton fields and examining these insects for the presence of pollen.  Pollen grains collected from plant bug samples will be indentified to plant species or genus and this information will be used to estimate the importance of various host plants to populations of tarnished plant bugs immigrating into cotton.


July 2011

The USDA ARS Southern Insect Management Research Unit is pleased to welcome Dr. Maribel Portilla as a Research Entomologist. Maribel received her Ph. D. in Entomology from University of London, U.K. in March 1999 and her Agricultural Engineering degree from University of Narino in Colombia in 1987. She has been working with the Southern Insect Management Unit as a Research Entomologist II investigating the impact of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana on non-target organisms. She has previously conducted research on insect rearing and biological control with the ARS and Mississippi State University.  She will continue her research on insect pathogens and microbial control of insect pests of southern row crops in her new position with the Southern Insect Management Research Unit. 

Maribel originally came from Colombia, South America in the Manizales Region, and worked for almost 17 years with the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers as a Research Entomologist.  Her expertise is in mass rearing parasitoids, predators, and pests; insect diet development and bioassay techniques for mass rearing; and laboratory, greenhouse and field studies on demography, population dynamics, species interaction and fitness reproductive rates of insects. She has ten years experience in international advising and consultation for government and private insect rearing facilities.


Dr. Portilla office is located at the NBCL building room 211.  In addition, she can be contacted at 686-3034 or e-mail her at


June 2011

Antia Cain a STEP student with SIMRU has been awarded  the Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation Program (LSMAMP).  This is a fully funded advancement towards her doctorate degree. Ms. Cain will be attending Jackson State University this fall in the  Biology department. LSMAMP program is designed to diversify the doctorate level in the Science Technology Engineering Mathematical disciplines. The program beliefs with many unique backgrounds, ethnicity, cultural, or even preferences will contribute to the progress and enhancement in research today and to come. It is part of a national effort which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and wants to develop the comprehensive strategies necessary to strengthen the preparation and increase the number of diverse students who successful complete baccalaureates in STEM fields. The LSMAMP's Bridge to Doctorate Program will enable Ms. Cain to obtain her master's and move on to her doctorate degree. Ms. Cain is prepared to follow the strict guidelines in maintaining academic excellence and outside studies. The program requires a three week international and national internship every summer. She is ecstatic and grateful for this opportunity. Ms. Cain also appreciates the USDA-ARS SIMRU in help with the preparation needed for research. She philosophizes that the more information we know about a problem, the better and faster we are at fixing it.

Dr. Frank Guillot transferred from the ARS Formosan Termite Laboratory in New Orleans to the Southern Insect Management Research Unit and decided to retire. 

May 2011

Gwendolyn Lee and Breanna Pennington (summer students) joined the National Biological Control Laboratory. They were assigned to Maribel Portilla to work in the Beauveria bassianna project.

SIMRU is very proud of our STEP employees.  The 2011 group includes Julian Beamon, D'anice Dishmon, Jesse King, Gwendolyn Lee, David Liang, Michael McCain, Christopher Morris, Breanna Pennington, Cavishia Roberson, Thomas Sherman, Bailey Tubertini, Jordan Tullos, Jasmine Warren returning students and Parker Brocato, Antia Cain, Nicholas Holmes, Chastity Scott, Jana Slay, and Latoyia Slay new students.  New STEP employees were selected through a competitive two-tiered screening process that included an anonymous committe evaluating written applications and an oral interview of 12 finalists for the six new positions.  This was highly competitve with 39 total applicants for six positions.  The new guidelines for recruiting and selecting STEP employees within SIMRU are posted under Careers.

March 2011

Tabatha Ramsey was promoted to a GS-8 position during March 2011. 

February 2011

Padmapriya Chatakondi joined Dr. Perera's laboratory as a biological aid on February 1, 2011.

January 2011

Flanadia Moore was transferred to National Biological Control Laboratory. She was reassigned to work with Maribel Portilla to work in the Beauveia bassianna project.

Gordon Snodgrass and Ryan Jackson, as part of the Mid-South Entomologist Working Group, received 2011 Friends of IPM Pulling Together Award for outstanding contributions to integrated pest management in the South.

December 2010

Gloria Patterson received a citation from Dr. Ed Knipling recognizing her 37 years of service to the ARS.  Gloria is retiring in January 2011.

October 2010

Gloria Patterson was transferred to NBCL. She was reassigned to work with Maribel Portilla.

September 2010

Maribel Portilla received a one-year extension of a Category II post-doctoral position to study indirect impacts of NI8, a strain of Beauveria bassiana discovered by SIMRU scientists with high activity against tarnished plant bugs,  on insect predators and natural enemies in the tarnished plant bug habitats targeted for treatment by the entomopathogenic fungus.   Her appointment began October 1, 2010, and she is located in NBCL.

June 2010

Yolanda Harvey was recognized for 10 years of service with ARS.

May 2010

Randy Luttrell joined SIMRU as Research Leader on May 23.

Gordon Snodgrass was recognized as the Outstanding Researcher of the Year at the 75th Annual Meeting of the Delta Council at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, May 28, 2010.

Last Modified: 8/13/2016
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