U of A Entomologist Appointed to NSF Post
Ashley Dowling, associate professor of entomology for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, has been appointed a program director for the National Science Foundation.
Dowling is already on the job at NSF headquarters in Arlington, Va. He is one of four program directors in the Systematics and Biodiversity Science Cluster of the Division of Environmental Biology. The temporary posts can last up to two years.
The Systematics and Biodiversity Science Cluster supports research that advances understanding of the diversity, systematics, and evolutionary history of organisms in natural systems.
"This basically covers all organisms — plants and animals — within the natural world," Dowling said. "It focuses on historical biology, what species are there, how they are related, and how they got there."
Dowling's research in the Division of Agriculture's department of entomology focuses on biodiversity, biogeography and the interactions of micro-arthropods. His work has a special emphasis on mites, which, among other things, can serve as an indicator of the health of an environment such as a stream.
Dowling also advises graduate students and teaches undergraduate entomology courses for Bumpers College.
The NSF job is multi-faceted, Dowling said. "We're working on long-range planning and budget for areas within this field that we'd like to investigate in years to come," he said.
The other priority is running a competitive grant panel that evaluates research proposals and determines which will receive NSF grants.
In addition, Dowling and other members of the Systematics and Biodiversity Sciences Cluster serve as the point of contact for researchers in related fields whose work is funded by those NSF grants.
"This is an opportunity to build new collaborations between agencies," Dowling said. "We'll be looking at how agencies like NSF and USDA can cooperate to develop new research programs."
"Ashley is an outstanding scientist, and we are extremely proud that NSF has selected him to fill this important role," said Clarence Watson, associate vice president-agriculture and director of the Division of Agriculture's Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. "Ashley's experiences and insights at NSF will greatly benefit the entire system."
Lona Robertson, interim Bumpers College dean, said, "Ashley is recognized by the College and his peers as an excellent educator and researcher and his appointment with NSF recognizes these qualities When Ashley returns to campus he will bring back knowledge about NSF programs that may directly benefit the college and the University of Arkansas campus."
Dowling will return to his post with the Division of Agriculture and Bumpers College after his NSF appointment ends.
Fred L. Miller, science editor
Agricultural Communication Services
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