Funding Priorities Submitted to USDA-NIFA
In late November, 2017, following a request for public comment from the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute on Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the MUVE Section Governing Council submitted the following on behalf of the Section:
What is your top priority in food and agricultural research, extension or education that NIFA should address? (600 Words):
The top priority of entomologists who identify with the Entomological Society of America’s Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology section is to develop scientists with field and communication skills to meet the needs of our society. Our section is comprised of scientists in the somewhat independent fields of medical, urban and veterinary entomology, many with substantial Extension components. What we share is that we are experiencing a critical loss of entomologists with field skills and training. Biosecurity is at risk without field-ready scientists. Federal funding opportunities are driving research toward very basic science, drawing a disproportionate number of our most successful young scientists toward basic laboratory research goals. While basic research is critical to identifying new opportunities for pest management or disease control, there must be funding parity for applied research, extension and education in order to maintain a pipeline of entomologists who are competent in a field environment, who can recognize an introduced species when it arrives, and who understand the behavior and ecology of pest insects to coordinate the control response. A related priority is addressing the lack of comprehensive national surveillance programs to identify pest species beyond the current agricultural mission, including vector-borne pathogens and structural pests that pose the greatest risk for invasion. We need to actively monitor for the introductions of these pests and assemble concomitant communications protocols to activate control measures. Lacking proactive surveillance and skilled field-entomologists to lead these efforts, we are left with reactive measures to combat incursions of invasive species. These efforts are often too little and too late (e.g. Argentine and tawny crazy ants, Asian and Formosan subterranean termites, Asian tiger mosquito, face fly.) Invasive species are by their very nature a challenging group of pests. We often lack entomologists and other specialists with expertise in recognizing or managing these pests. This gives the pest a chance to establish itself before control efforts even get off the ground. We must view pests outside the U.S. as potential invaders (e.g., Khapra beetle, yellow crazy ant, screwworm fly, etc.) and increase opportunities and resources for education about these pests BEFORE they invade.
What are the most promising science opportunities for advancement of food and agricultural sciences? (600 Words)
Invest in Extension. Support the development of national surveillance networks for pests of Medical, Veterinary, and Urban concern with particular emphasis on early identification of new invaders and new pathogens. The Cooperative Extension System is resilient and has proven, over its 100+ year history, a remarkable ability to serve a continually changing clientele. Extension personnel are science-trained and have field skills that can uniquely bridge the gap between the basic and applied sciences. Extension scientists capture impacts, influence behaviors and policy, and increase capacity by training the next generation of practitioners. In order to accommodate an expanding agenda of needs, extension programs require resources with the funding parity of basic research. Extension specialists work with industry partners, communication specialists to craft effective messaging, and community leaders for effective implementation. Extension scientists are accessible, responsive, and solutions-based, effectively bringing new information from the basic and applied sciences to those most able to make use of this knowledge.
- Berenbaum, M. (2017) Communicating About Science Communication: A Brief Entomological History. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 110, 435-438
Paulo, A. et al (2017) From the Laboratory to the Field: Updating Capacity Building in Medical Entomology. Trends in Parasitology 33, 665-668