Entomology, Plant Pathology Now One Department in Bumpers College

Madagascar hissing cockroach
Micayla Blair

Madagascar hissing cockroach

The departments of entomology and plant pathology in U of A's Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences have been combined into the new Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

The department offers teaching and student research programs leading to master's and doctoral degrees in both areas. Students may earn a Master of Science in entomology or plant pathology and a doctorate in agricultural, food and life sciences with a concentration in either entomology or plant pathology.

"Our graduate programs have not changed," said Ken Korth, head of the department. "Regardless of their program of study, all our students will benefit from the merger because of the broader expertise of the faculty in the department. Our graduates continue to have an excellent record of job placement, taking jobs in academia, industry and multiple areas of agricultural production."

The department also conducts entomology and plant pathology research and provides extension activities and education.

Entomology students, faculty, and researchers study insects and microbes to better understand interactions between organisms and improve agricultural production systems.

"We have faculty focusing their research on emerging problems related to human pests, such as mosquitoes and ticks, beneficial pollinators, and pests in crops and gardens," Korth said.

Core areas of research are plant-pest interactions, applied pest control, genetics of arthropods and microbes, and pest populations with a focus on pest insect and pathogen management, as well as forestry and urban and structural entomology. Insects and pathogens of insects can be beneficial, and biocontrol pest management is an integral part of the program.

"We have been fortunate in the past few years to add new assistant professors in plant pathology," Korth said. "Drs. Clemencia Rojas, Martin Egan, and Alejandro Rojas have brought new energy to our research and teaching efforts."

Plant pathology students, faculty, and researchers focus on controlling plant diseases - in particular disease management in crops - fungal plant pathogens, host/pathogen genetics and interactions, nematology, virology, plant bacterial pathogens, and biological control.

"It's been exciting to see how the students, faculty, and staff have moved forward with this merger," Korth said. "The combined strengths and synergism of the two groups will make us collectively stronger and give rise to new opportunities for growth. We will continue to pursue excellence in research and teaching in our core areas and serve stakeholders throughout the state. Our new website is now active and the re-design provides an excellent portal for those outside our department to learn about what we do. We have already begun to have more shared seminars and events. We've combined administrative services, which should help us work more efficiently to serve our faculty and students."

The department relies on emerging technologies such as big data, remote sensing, gene editing, and nanotech and promotes appropriate management methods that balance environmental and economic concerns.

Through extension, research-proven technology and methodology are applied throughout Arkansas and beyond.

"Students in both the entomology and plant pathology graduate programs combined efforts this summer to have weekly displays at the Fayetteville Farmers Market," Korth said. "These events provide service to the community and are a great way for us to be visible. They let people know what we do on a daily basis to learn and serve. The Plant Health Clinic continues to be an incredibly valuable asset for citizens of Arkansas. We accept samples from all over the state and help growers solve problems. With the departmental merger, we plan to consolidate our efforts of insect ID with disease diagnosis."

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Robby Edwards, director of communications
Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
479-575-4625, robbye@uark.edu

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