Muni’s Musings

Hello readers,

Welcome to the second edition of our Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab newsletter!

In this issue, we talk to Dr. George Norton, the Principal Investigator on our Vegetable IPM for Asia project, and Aishwarya Bhattacharjee, a graduate student working on our Modeling for Biodiversity and Climate Change project. We will also keep you up-to-date on our recent trips and workshops, and look at some of what’s trending in insects and agriculture here and abroad.

Our Phase V Projects

We’re proud to say that all eight of our Phase V IPM Innovation Lab sub-awards have been officially approved by the USAID Agreement Officer. For this phase, we are focusing on seven Feed the Future countries in two regions of the world: East Africa (Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya) and Asia (Nepal, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam).

These projects focus on a range of issues, from fruits, vegetables, and grains, to climate change and invasive pest modeling. The projects are:

  1. Biological Control of Parthenium in East Africa, Principal Investigator: Wondi Mersie, Virginia State University
  2. Fruit Crops IPM for Vietnam, Principal Investigator: Hoa Nguyen Van, Southern Fruit Crops Research Institute, Vietnam.
  3. Vegetable IPM for Asia, Principal Investigator: George Norton, Virginia Tech.
  4. Rice IPM for Cambodia, Principal Investigator: Buyung Hadi, International Rice Research Institute.
  5. Climate Change and Biodiversity, Principal Investigator: Nir Krakauer, City University of New York.
  6. Modeling of Invasive Species, Principal Investigator: Abhijin Adiga, Biocomplexity Institute, Virginia Tech.
  7. Vegetable IPM for East Africa, Principal Investigator: John Cardina, Ohio State University.
  8. Grains IPM for East Africa, Principal Investigator: Tadele Tefera, icipe.

Parthenium Workshops in Ethiopia

We have already begun work on all of our projects. This past December, an IPM team for the Parthenium project traveled to Ethiopia for a planning meeting and to host a Parthenium workshop. There, the team met with scientists not only from East Africa, but also from Israel. In addition, Dennis Treacy, a member of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, accompanied us on this trip. We were also honored with a grant from Ethiopia’s Haramaya University to our Parthenium project for 100,000 Birr, roughly $5,000.

Planning Meetings for Vegetable IPM in Asia

In January and February of this year, we held planning meetings for the Vegetable IPM in Asia and Climate Change and Biodiversity projects. We’re facilitating coordination between three of our Asia projects: Vegetable IPM in Asia, Rice IPM in Cambodia, and Climate Change and Biodiversity in Nepal.

Tuta absoluta Webinar

In addition, our Modeling of Invasive Species project held a webinar with coordinating scientists from the United States, France, India, and Senegal. This is a unique project which will use modeling to predict the spread of Tuta absoluta, the South American Tomato Leafminer. What makes this project so exciting is that beyond just modeling the natural movements of the insect, we will also be taking human movement into account to discern where the pest might spread to next. And this model will be useful not just for modeling the spread of Tuta, but also for modeling the spread of many invasive insect pests as well.

Please visit our website, covering past and present activities of the Innovation Lab at:

We hope you enjoy the second issue of our newsletter for this phase of the IPM Innovation Lab. We look forward to keeping you informed on our work, and if you have any questions or comments, please get in touch!

Warm regards,
Muni Muniappan
Integrated Pest Innovation Lab Director
Phone: 1-540-231-3516.

Muni’s Musings
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