Participants in the Organic Spotted Wing Dropsophila Research Project

Ashfaq Sial Ahmad (PD): Dr. Ashfaq Sial is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Entomology Department at the University of Georgia where he has a research and extension appointment. The goals of his research program are to investigate biology and ecology of economically important arthropod pests of small fruits in both field and laboratory settings and to develop sustainable integrated pest management (IPM) programs. He is particularly interested in insecticide toxicology and resistance evolution. His laboratory employs biochemical, molecular, and quantitative genetic approaches to assess the risk of resistance evolution and determine resistance mechanisms in order to develop scientifically based resistance management programs. His program also evaluates insect monitoring techniques, biological control, and host plant resistance, and integrates multiple management tactics to provide a systems-level approach to pest management. The majority of his current projects focus on investigating various aspects of biology and management of invasive pest, spotted wing drosophila. He works directly with growers to help them implement IPM programs in conventional as well as organic production systems.

Since his arrival to UGA, Dr. Sial has led several research and extension initiatives including a statewide survey of SWD and UGA Blueberry Blog to help growers implement short-, medium-, and long-term strategies to effectively control SWD. He has written over 25 extension articles and delivered over 40 presentations throughout the state and nationally in the past 24 months. He is currently working on developing an App to help farmers identify major insect pests of blueberries and manage them effectively. His laboratory is well-funded through federal, stakeholder, and industry grants. Thus far, Dr. Sial has received a total of $10.4 million in extramural funding as PD or Co-PD to support his program. Currently, he is serving as Project Director (PD) of a multi-state collaborative grant funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through Organic Research and Extension Initiative – OREI (Award No. 2015-51300-24154). The long-term goal of this grant is to develop, evaluate and implement systems-based organic SWD management programs that are compatible with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) and true to the ethos of organic agriculture. These programs will be based on a foundation of cultural, physical, and behavioral control tactics, bolstered by NOP compliant insecticides. Dr. Sial is also involved in a recently funded Specialty Crop Research Initiative – SCRI grant (Award number 2015-51181-24252) as Co-Project Director (Co-PD).

Current members of his laboratory include three graduate students (Danielle Rosensteel, Josh Grant, and Richard Evans), a postdoctoral scientist (Dr. Bal Gautam), a research professional/lab manager (Brian Little), and six undergraduate research assistants. Lab members are working on various aspects of biology and ecology of SWD with the ultimate goal of developing sustainable management programs to control this pest in a more sustainable manner. Dr. Sial is currently recruiting more postdoctoral research associates and graduate students. The potential candidates may contact him at

Mary RogersMary Rogers (Co-PD): Mary Rogers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Minnesota (60% teaching, 40% research) specializing in sustainable and organic horticulture food production systems. Her broad goal is to promote ecological-based strategies to improve production of vegetables and fruit in collaboration with growers and community members to build a sustainable and just local food system. Mary’s prior work in entomology includes investigating non-target effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on monarch and painted lady butterflies and green lacewings, efficacy of biopesticides for cucumber beetle management in organic cucurbits, and organic management of invasive brown marmorated stink bug in vegetable crops. For this project, Mary will conduct research on cultural control tactics to reduce SWD damage through exclusion and habitat management, as well as study the efficacy of OMRI-listed materials and impacts of secondary pest outbreaks, and coordinate outreach activities.

Hannah Burrack: Hannah Burrack is an associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University and holds degrees in entomology from the University of California, Davis (PhD) and the University of Wisconsin, Madison (BS). Dr. Burrack heads the Specialty Crop IPM Laboratory, which studies the biology and management of arthropod pests and pollinators in berry and tobacco crops.Dr. Burrack has studied spotted wing drosophila since 2010, when it was first detected in North Carolina by a volunteer monitoring network coordinated by her laboratory, and had served as a national leader to coordinated research, extension, and education activities. Other recent projects include management of SWD in blueberries and caneberries, measuring the effects of strawberry clipper weevil in annual strawberry systems, and assessment of the ability of flowering insectary strips to enhance biological control in organically grown tobacco.

Matt Grieshop: Matt Grieshop joined the MSU department of Entomology in October of 2007 as the Organic Pest Management faculty member. My responsibilities include research (50%), extension (30%), and teaching (20%) in the areas of organic agriculture and pest management. Although I am housed in entomology, I also have a strong interest in the management of weeds and pathogens and have several ongoing projects exploring how plant, insect, and pathogen pests interact with each other or with specific pest management tactics. My appointment is especially broad in that I am not restricted to a specific commodity group (i.e. fruit, field crops, vegetables, animal science, floriculture, etc.). The overall goal of my research and extension efforts are to develop, refine, and deliver pest management technologies that minimize off farm inputs while preserving farm economic sustainability. An additional research interest is the identification, quantification, and optimization of arthropod mediated ecosystem services.

Christelle GuedotChristelle Guédot: Christelle Guédot obtained her PhD from Utah State University in Logan, UT, where she worked on the nest location and nest recognition of two solitary bees, i.e. the alfalfa leaf-cutting bee and the blue orchard bee, two commercially important pollinators. In 2005, she started a post-doctoral research position in Yakima, WA, where she worked at the USDA-ARS laboratory on the biology, behavior, and chemical ecology of pest insects of fruit trees and vegetables. In 2012, Christelle became the Fruit Crop Entomologist and Extension Specialist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Her research program focuses on developing and refining effective, economical, and environmentally sound insect pest management (IPM) strategies; and determining the importance of pollinators and developing strategies for conserving and enhancing pollination services for fruit crops in Wisconsin. The focus of her extension program is to provide up to date, research-based information to Wisconsin fruit growers on effective and sustainable IPM practices and on pollination services. As part of this OREI project, Christelle will lead the assessment of currently available lures and baits both individually and in combinations, in different crops and at different times of the season to determine the best bait for trapping SWD as a function of the chemical and visual background produced by different crops throughout the growing season.

Kelly hambyKelly Hamby: Dr. Kelly Hamby, Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Maryland, College Park, received her PhD in Entomology at the University of California Davis with a focus on sustainable Integrated Pest Management strategies for various insect pests. She has previously performed research on monitoring, yeast associations, chronobiology, chronotoxicity of insecticides and the implications of this work to management of spotted wing drosophila (SWD).

Currently, the Hamby lab is evaluating the seasonal phenology of SWD in various fruit crops and the efficacy of a commercial trapping system for monitoring SWD at Maryland pick-your-own diversified small farm sites. Additionally, a long-term goal of the Hamby lab is to evaluate how fungal microorganisms, including plant pathogens, impact and are impacted by SWD. Co-leading the cultural control subobjective, Dr. Hamby will help coordinate the research objectives and will evaluate pruning and mulching regimes to manage SWD infestation in organic blueberries and caneberries.

Donn T. Johnson: Donn T. Johnson, Ph.D., is a professor of Entomology at the University of Arkansas since 1978 (appointment: 65% research, 25% extension and 10% teaching). He received a B.S. in biology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. At Michigan State University, he studied the dispersal of predatory mites in apples as he completed a M.S. and Ph.D. (1978) in Entomology. He teaches Insect Pest Management and Insect Behavior and Chemical Ecology. He develops and implements fruit and nut pest management programs for conventional, organic and high tunnel production systems, develops and demonstrates pest scouting methods and evaluates effectiveness of insecticides, biopesticides.

Recently, he has been evaluating releases of natural enemies in high tunnels and use of insect screen exclusion. Donn maintains a Fruit/Nut Pest Management website at Donn received the 2007 SEB-ESA Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management and the University of Arkansas John White Grape Team Award. Donn will collaborate in the USDA\NIFA\OREI project on organic management strategies for spotted wing drosophila by helping determine the feasibility of insect netting to exclude SWD and increase crop quality and yield; and assist with outreach via grower meetings and on-farm demonstrations of organic SWD management strategies.

Jana LeeJana Lee: Jana Lee is a Research Entomologist at the USDA ARS Horticultural Crops Research Unit. Her lab develops biological control and other sustainable management tools for pests of small fruits and ornamentals. In this grant, Jana will examine how the physiological status of SWD affects their response to volatiles and the pupation habits of SWD, to improve trapping systems and management targeting additional life stages of the pest.



Tracy LeskeyTracy Leskey: Dr. Tracy Leskey received her B.S. in Biology, from Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA; her M.S. in Ecology at Penn State University, University Park, PA and her Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is employed as a Research Entomologist for USDA-ARS at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, WV, USA and is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on developing behaviorally-based monitoring and management tools for tree fruit pests to increase both ecological and economic sustainability of orchard production systems. In particular, she has focused her efforts on developing tools to better manage the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), native stink bugs, plum curculio, dogwood borer, apple maggot and most recently, spotted wing drosophila. She leads a USDA-NIFA SCRI CAP ( and co-leads the NE BMSB IPM Working Group.

Oscar LiburdOscar Liburd: Dr. Liburd is a Professor in the Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida (UF). He has over 15 years of professional experience in academia and is the Program Leader for the Small Fruit and Vegetable IPM laboratory at UF. Dr. Liburd has published more than 150 scientific papers and has received numerous awards for his scholarship including the recent Distinguish Achievement Award for Horticultural Entomology (2013) from ESA southeastern branch, Excellence in IPM awarded from the Entomological Society of America (2008), and Entomologist of the year (2008) from the Florida Entomologist.

Dr. Liburd has over 20 years of experience in the development of attractants and lures for management of fruit flies. He has worked extensively in organic agriculture on the behavioral management of horticultural pests using cultural techniques such as mulches, cover crops, trap crops, and intercropping. He has many years of experience evaluating biopesticides and their effects on non-target organisms and has worked extensively with small fruit and vegetable growers in the Eastern United States.

Dr. Liburd and his research group will be participating in the evaluation and development of semiochemicals for monitoring and attract-and-kill systems for SWD. They will be involved with the development of cultural control tactics, specifically the impact of mulches, microclimate, and cultivation techniques for SWD management. They will participate in the development of chemical control strategies using OMRI listed products for SWD suppression and management. Part of this project will involve the effects of these pesticides on non-target species. Finally, the group will participate in the overall extension activities outlined in the project.

Jennie PoppJennie Popp: Jennie Popp. Ph.D. joined University of Arkansas in December 2008 is currently a Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness and Area Director for Economics in the Division of Agriculture’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability.

Her research focuses on assessing 1) agricultural practices for resource (primarily soil and water) management, 2) tools to manage production and environmental risks in agriculture and 3) sustainability indicators. She has been lead or co-investigator on over $9 million of externally funded research projects over the past five years. She teaches courses in environmental economics and sustainability.

Using the interactive sustainable production budgets currently being developed by Dr. Popp and her team, she will conduct economic assessments around the best management practices being investigated to control SWD.

Peter Shearer: Peter W. Shearer, Ph.D., is a Professor of Entomology located at Oregon State University’s Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hood River, OR. His lab develops integrated management programs for tree fruits. Professor Shearer will study management of SWD including testing organic compounds for efficacy and their impacts on natural enemies and secondary pests.



Vaughn Walton: I work on economically important pests, with the aim to provide environmentally sustainable and minimal impact pest management strategies for agriculturalists in Oregon and further afield. Multiple techniques are used in a whole-system approach to obtain sustainable means of production.

In order to obtain this goal, new knowledge obtained from detailed insect physiological, biological, behavioral, ecological and environmental studies are needed. This knowledge is then used to apply treatments timed to occur during periods when pests are at their most vulnerable. These control strategies have historically focused on biological control, mating disruption and conventional synthetic pesticides.

The long-term goal of my work in this project is to develop and deliver sustainable management programs for SWD that are not only NOP standards-compliant but also are true to the ethos of organic agriculture. In this project, we will develop pest management programs based on a foundation of cultural, physical, and behavioral control tactics bolstered by biopesticides. The programs developed in our project will be based on scientific understanding of biology and ecology of SWD. It will allow producers to follow the organic hierarchy of pest management, conserve natural enemies, and reserve their use of lethally active, broad-spectrum insecticides for emergency applications.

Specific objectives and scope of work to be conducted at Oregon State University include:

  1. Develop semiochemical based management tactics for SWD.
  2. Develop cultural control tactics and evaluate their efficacy and feasibility for reduction of SWD damage.
  3. Develop effective chemical control strategies that do not disrupt biological suppression of pest complexes.
  4. Development and implementation of an integrated outreach program.

Frank G. ZalomFrank G. Zalom: Dr. Zalom is Distinguished Professor of Entomology and Extension Entomologist at UC Davis. He served as Director of the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years, and has conducted research on tree fruit, small fruit and vegetable crops pests for 37 years. Elected a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Entomological Society of America (ESA), he has received both ESA’s Achievement Award in Extension and its Recognition Award, the Entomological Foundation’s IPM Team Award and its Excellence in IPM Award, the James H. Meyer Award from UC Davis for teaching, research and service, a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship, and the CW Woodworth Award from ESA’s Pacific Branch. He served as ESA Pacific Branch President (2001), ESA National President (2014), and Entomological Foundation President (2015). He has authored over 330 peer-reviewed publications, and was major Professor for 12 PhD and 6 MS students. Dr. Zalom’s lab was the first to study Drosophila suzukii as an agricultural pest in North America, and as part of this OREI grant he will pursue objectives related to effectiveness of organic insecticides and canopy management for SWD control, and incorporation of project results into University of California management guidelines.