The broad emphasis of my research program is to understand relevant interactions between nature, crops, and farmers by revealing synergies and conflicts between pest control, environmental, and socio-economic goals. Focused on a central theme of geography, my program uses a landscape-level research approach that unifies fundamental concepts of arthropod life history strategies with landscape ecology to understand complex communities of pests and beneficial arthropods. We study these basic ecological principles in a framework of contemporary agricultural systems to generate research-based extension information that targets key stakeholder groups (growers, consultants, extension, industry) with the goal of reducing the negative impacts of pest management practices. Research in my program fits within four intersecting thematic areas: a) Understanding the effects of changing landscape composition and configuration on pests with different life histories. b) Documenting negative impacts pesticide use across multiple levels of ecological organization. c) Integrating insecticide resistance management and geospatial crop production data to advance understanding of spatiotemporal insecticide resistance selection and refuge patches in agroecosystems. d) Adapting existing precision agricultural technologies to more effectively document and manage insect pest problems in agricultural fields and reduce unnecessary pesticide inputs. Work in my lab combines on-farm measurements, manipulative experiments, geospatial science, and statistical approaches to understand pest issues in an array of agricultural crops and production systems. The long-term goal of this program will be to address current and emerging crop-pest issues using an agile research and extension approach that is sensitive to rapidly changing agricultural practices in an era of technologically driven crop production. Armed with this knowledge, we can design and deliver adequate decision-support tools that address the needs of stakeholders to manage emerging problems through a revitalized Integrated Pest Management approach. Through incremental research-based improvements, my program will contribute to a broader effort to develop durable and effective pest mitigation strategies that reduce reliance on pesticides, improve the resiliency of production systems, and decrease the cascading negative impacts of agriculture on rural communities and the environment.
Crop responsibilities: corn, cotton, grain sorghum, soybean, sweetpotato, and wheat.