Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pests Don't Recognize Boundaries. Pest Solutions Shouldn't Either

Twenty years ago, I lived in Germany. I recently re-read some of the first letters I wrote describing my new home. In them, I pointed out everything that was different – from the way windows open to the lack of roadside billboards. But as time went on, I stopped noticing the differences and would only see them again when people came to visit and I could experience the country anew through their eyes.

I’ve incorporated that lesson at work. When I hire people, my first advice to them is to write down everything that seems unexpected or unusual, because through fresh eyes we can see our operation in a new perspective. And there is usually something valuable in what they see and say that veterans in the organization overlook or take for granted.

I’ve been heeding my own advice as I’ve reacquainted myself with integrated pest management activities and needs in the West. I’ve called and met and talked with stakeholders throughout the region, and have been listening and noting what seems unusual. And what stands out is something that doesn’t show up in my notes as often as I expected: areawide IPM.

To me, integrated pest management solutions are rooted in ecosystem-level approaches. This was always clear when I worked in forest pathology, and as I listen to others, I see that some of the most successful ecosystem-level examples of integrated pest management have been ones of areawide cooperation.

Pests don’t have borders. It simply makes sense that IPM shouldn’t stop at borders either, whether that border is at a field or forest, or at a backyard fence or state line.

From last month’s story on safflower to this month’s video on protecting Pacific Northwest watersheds, the Western Integrated Pest Management Center has been highlighting areawide IPM. It isn’t hard to find other examples.

In Montana, wheat streak mosaic virus is best controlled when every farmer eliminates the green bridge, live plants that allow the mite that spreads the disease to survive and move downwind to other fields. Losses from wheat streak mosaic virus can be 100 percent, and with no registered chemicals to control the vector, areawide cooperation is the only way to manage this pest.  

Other successes are found in natural ecosystems where county parks and neighboring communities work together to control the spread of Lyme disease, in agriculture where growers use mating disruption pheromones to reduce codling moth pressure while vastly reducing pesticide use, in multi-state efforts to biologically control leafy spurge, and in communities where fire ants are suppressed while respecting and working with residents opposed to pesticide use.

To battle new pests, there are efforts to expand areawide IPM into communities, enlisting citizen scientists to monitor pest movements. Indeed, Western residents have been called on to participate in areawide monitoring of emerald ash borer, zebra and quagga mussels, brown marmorated stink bug, Asian citrus psyllid and many more.

I see these successes and efforts as examples of why areawide IPM is important. Areawide efforts rely on cooperation between neighbors – whether those neighbors are next door or in the next state – and result in an environmentally responsible, economically viable and regional reduction in pests.

The IPM community in the West should broaden our response to invasive and endemic pests and proactively develop areawide IPM solutions. Solutions shouldn’t come because we’ve run into chemical resistance or regulatory issues, but rather in a proactive effort to slow resistance and reduce risk. After all, as the safflower and codling moth cases show, an integrated, areawide response can improve control and reduce pesticide use.

It’s time to amplify the terms areawide and areawide integrated pest management, and I think we can do that by working cooperatively. Working cooperatively means harnessing citizen scientists to do more than monitor pest movement. Citizens can also be enlisted to prevent and suppress pests. Working cooperatively also means that natural resource managers and farmers can step across their borders and co-develop areawide IPM solutions.

As I mentioned in my first post, we are creating a theory of change for the Center. On a white board in my office, I’ve been writing key ideas for that theory of change and the first word that made it to the board was catalyst. That’s what I think a regional coordination program should do for areawide IPM – act as a catalyst.

So what does it mean for the Center and the region we serve?

It means we will support areawide IPM ideas, practices and research. It means we will encourage pest managers to develop, test and use areawide approaches that make managing pests safer and more economical. It means we will focus on solutions that are novel and can move beyond borders.

As always, let’s continue the conversation.  

Friday, June 3, 2016

Junior Specialist Position in Plant Diseases

A research position (Postdoc or Junior Specialist) is available immediately in Dr. Trouillas laboratory at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, California. Dr. Trouillas runs an extension program and his research includes basic and applied studies on the etiology, epidemiology and control of diseases affecting fruit and nut crops in California. The incumbent will be involved in field and laboratory studies to implement control strategies against canker diseases of almond. Studies will include testing of the efficacy of various fungicides, paints, sealants and bio-control agents for the protection of pruning wounds. Additional project will include investigating the microbial diversity associated with almond flowers. This project aims to identify potential bio-control agents for the control of brown rot blossom blight in almond.

The selected applicant will be expected to participate in field studies, experimental design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and preparation of scientific publications. Highly motivated individuals with a strong background in plant pathology, morphological and molecular taxonomy of fungi and bacteria, phylogeny and plant disease epidemiology are encouraged to apply. Excellent communication skills in oral and written English are essential. The successful applicant will be self-motivated, and ready to take responsibilities to help establish a growing laboratory and collaborative projects. Review of applications will begin immediately until filled. Email to apply.

Horticultural Crops Research and Registration Specialist

The Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University seeks outstanding candidates for a full-time position that will provide leadership for a nationally recognized research and outreach program that supports the pesticide registration needs of agriculture in the state.  This position serves as the National Interregional Research Project #4 (IR-4) Field Center Director for Oregon—working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oregon Department of Agriculture, commodity commissions and associations, and registrants to identify pesticide needs in agriculture, conduct GLP residue field trials, and conduct appropriate efficacy and crop safety field trials leading to product registrations. 

A Masters’s degree is required in horticulture, crop science, entomology, plant pathology, weed science, or related fields with demonstrated expertise in research and outreach community education related to agricultural crop production and management. Salary is commensurate with education and experience. 

The position is based at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC) located in Aurora, OR—about 90 minutes north of Corvallis, OR and Oregon State University’s main campus.  The Willamette Valley is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.  Surrounding communities are regularly listed among the most livable small towns, and the dynamic city of Portland is less than 25 miles away.  Aurora, OR is 90 minutes from the Pacific Ocean to the west and 90 minutes to the east is the nation’s only year-around skiing on Mt. Hood.  The Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University includes over 48 nationally and world renowned faculty who explore a diverse range of questions and topics related to horticultural systems. 

To Apply
Find the full position description, application instructions, and the online submission portal here:

For full consideration applications must be received by June 19, 2016 and the position will close July 3, 2016.

Junior Specialist Position in Nematology

A position as junior specialist is available in the Nematology program at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Parlier, CA. In the program of Dr. Andreas Westphal, nematode management strategies in field, greenhouse and laboratory settings are investigated. This is a position for a highly motivated individual preferably with experience in productions of perennial crops. Experience in all aspects of plant cultivation are a plus. Initial appointment is for one year, and can start to the earliest possible date, with the possibility of extension depending on performance and availability of funding. Please contact for further details: Dr. Andreas Westphal, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 9240 S. Riverbend Ave, Parlier, CA 93648, ph: 559 646 6555, Email: Email applications including a brief cover letter and a current resume are welcome.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Letter to Western IPM Center Stakeholders

Friends of the Western IPM Center,

Today is my second day on the job, and I’m excited to join the Western Integrated Pest Management Center and work with our team, partners and stakeholders. I look forward to meeting the rest of the group and re-engaging with those who research, apply and extend integrated pest management in the Western United States and Pacific Island Territories.

I am fortunate to join a group that has accomplished impressive and important things. Under the leadership of Jim Farrar, the Western IPM Center has done much to highlight the role that integrated pest management plays in protecting crops, ecosystems and human health. I’m appreciative of Jim and the team for building momentum and confident that we can continue this work. And I would especially like to recognize the hard work that Matt Baur has put in over the last seven months. He has been doing the jobs of director and associate director and we are definitely indebted to him. Thanks Matt! 

I’m coming to the Center from the Horticulture Innovation Lab, where success is built on strong partnerships and thoughtful planning. Some of my first tasks at the Western IPM Center will be to get to know Western IPM needs and work with our team and stakeholders to develop a theory of change for our program that makes us accountable and purposeful in our activities. While logic models can be effective in monitoring progress, I find that a theory of change is a better way to plan and evaluate programs, like ours, that intend to make widespread and long-lasting changes. We will start with our goals of reducing the risks pests and pest-management practices pose to human health, the environment and the economy, and then work backward to outline measurable actions we can take to achieve those ends. A theory of change ensures that everything we do leads to achieving shared and well-defined goals. It’s an exciting challenge.

Like the Pest Management Strategic Plans we help create, a theory of change is meant to be a living document and stakeholder driven. So over the next few months, I would like to talk with you, our stakeholders. Let’s talk about pest needs that have not been adequately addressed and about successful IPM programs that can be highlighted and even adapted to other locations. Let’s talk about what the Western IPM Center does well, and what it can do better. Let’s talk about ways to make managing pests safer and cheaper, and how the Western IPM Center can help.

Write to me at and we’ll get the conversation started. Thank you.

Keep smilin’,


Monday, April 18, 2016

Post Doc Sought: Spotted Wing Drosophila

Post-doctoral fellowship to study the biology of spotted wing drosophila (SWD) populations in California’s agricultural landscapes, and to conduct research on novel management methods. This work will be based in the laboratory of Dr. Frank Zalom, Distinguished Professor and Extension Entomologist, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

A post-doctoral position is currently available for a minimum of one year to study spotted wing drosophila (SWD) population biology and management in California.  Further extension is dependent on continued availability of funds and satisfactory progress.  SWD was first found in the Monterey Bay area of California, and the Zalom lab at UC Davis conducted the initial studies of its biology.  It has subsequently become widespread throughout North America and Canada, and is a major pest of berry and cherry crops. One main goal of this project is to study SWD populations in the Monterey Bay area where it is a major pest of berry crops and in the northern San Joaquin Valley where if is a major pest of sweet cherries to better define aspects of it biology such as movement between crop and non-crop hosts and overwintering. This research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Joanna Chiu and focused on establishing amount of genetic variability between local populations. Another goal is to conduct field studies of novel methods of SWD control.

Successful candidate is expected to hold a recent (received within the last three years) Ph.D. in Entomology from a U.S. university with field research experience and an interest in working in a diverse agricultural landscape. The candidate is expected to be capable of working independently. Ability to plan and execute hypothesis driven research projects that lead to publications in peer-reviewed journals is essential. Some knowledge or experience in using molecular techniques within a research project is desirable.

Excellent oral and written communications in English are required, as is the ability to communicate in nontechnical terms to growers and crop consultants. The incumbent is expected to obtain a California driver license to visit study sites for field studies throughout California.  Interested candidates should send resume, names and contact information of three references to

Salary is commensurate with experience.  The position carries standard benefits, including healthcare, applicable to these positions at the University of California, Davis. University of California is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.
Closing Date: This position will remain open until a suitable candidate is identified.
Organization Type: Academic

Location: Davis, CA, USA