Post-Webinar Discussion on Invasive Insects Webinar Series

Part 1 of a Post-Webinar Discussion on Invasive Insects: Detect, Assess, and Regulate!

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Invasive insects are devastating agricultural, natural, and urban environments around the world. The Entomological Society of America is positioned to be a leader in developing a collaborative invasive species mitigation and management roadmap. As a follow-up to the four-part invasive species webinar series hosted by the Entomological Society of America, the P-IE Section Invasive Species Wildly Important Goals Team, and USDA APHIS, a panel of federal scientists presented on current methods that are used to detect, assess, and regulate potentially invasive insects in the United States and opened the floor for discussion from members of the Entomological Society of America. 

Panelist: Brian Kopper

Brian joined PPQ in 2003 as the Pest Survey Specialist for Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. He moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2005 to serve as a program manager, where he managed several programs including Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS), PPA 7721, and new pest detections. In 2016, Brian became an assistant director for the Plant Pest Risk Analyst (formally Plant Epidemiology and Risk Analysis Laboratory) unit, where he oversees risk assessments for fruit and vegetable imports and weeds. Brian holds a bachelor’s degree in botany from Michigan State University, a master’s degree in entomology from Kansas State University, and a doctorate degree in entomology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In his spare time, he enjoys being outdoors and growing cycads and other unique plants.

 

 

Panelist: Christa Speekmann

Christa Speekmann is excited to return to her Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) roots as the Director of Pest Evaluation and Response for the USDA-APHIS. Previously, she was at APHIS-International Services as the Assistant Director of the Capacity Building center, where she oversaw international capacity building efforts, aimed at preventing, detecting and responding to plant and animal pest and pathogens. Prior to International Services, Christa was at APHIS - Veterinary Services, National Import Export Services as the Staff Officer for Aquaculture, where she was responsible for import and export, negotiations of live aquatic animal movements globally. Outside of work, Christa enjoys sewing and has made 60 masks with about a dozen more in the cue. She also enjoys wine tasting in VA and MD, theater (live or virtual) and new since COVID, puzzling….averaging one a month.

 

Panelist: Rebecca Stankiewicz Gabel

Rebecca Stankiewicz Gabel is the Acting Director of the Imports, Regulations, and Manuals Division (IRM) in Pest Exclusion and Import Programs (PEIP), part of Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). She has worked for PPQ since 2014 as an Assistant Director in IRM, leading the Information Services and Manuals Unit. Prior to coming to PPQ, Rebecca worked for Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS). There, she held many positions: Regulatory Analyst, Senior Biotechnologist, Senior Environmental Protection Specialist, and Supervisory Environmental Protection Specialist. Rebecca completed postdoctoral research with ARS in Stoneville, MS, where she worked on cotton insect pests. She was an Assistant Professor at Shippensburg University, an Adjunct Professor at University of Maryland University College, an Instructor at Connecticut College. She holds an MS and PhD in Genetics and a BS in Animal Science all from the University of Connecticut.

 

Panelist: Van Pichler

Van started with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in 1992 as an Employee Development Specialist. She provided leadership training, career counseling, training and change management consulting services for Agency programs. In 1995, she joined Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) as a Training Specialist at the Professional Development Center (PDC). She managed a variety of training programs for PPQ such as Intercultural Communication and Negotiation training, Animal Health Awareness, Plant Health Awareness, the Plant Health Systems Analysis Program, AQI Veterinary Program, and Leading in the 21st Century. She was promoted to a Supervisory Training Specialist in 2001. Her most notable accomplishments are developing and implementing a comprehensive employee development system, developing and implementing a leadership development program for PPQ, and the expansion of PDC’s functions and services to meet the needs of PPQ. In 2005, Van resigned from Federal Service to spend time with her family. She rejoined PPQ in 2007 as PDC’s Chief of Staff. Van worked for PPQ’s Resource Management Service’s staff working on special projects from 2014-2021. Currently, she is serves as a National Policy Advisor for PPQ’s Plant Protection Act, Section 7721 and manages the PPA 7721 program. Van holds a Bachelor’s of Science, Business and Technology from University of Maryland, Global Campus and holds numerous certifications in project management, instructional systems design, training evaluation, and psychological and psychometric assessment instruments.

Part 2 of a Post-Webinar Discussion on Invasive Insects: Assessment, Federal Regulation, Communication, and Partnerships!

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Invasive insects are devastating agricultural, natural, and urban environments around the world. The Entomological Society of America is positioned to be a leader in developing a collaborative invasive species mitigation and management roadmap. As a follow-up to the four-part invasive species webinar series hosted by the Entomological Society of America, the P-IE Section Invasive Species Wildly Important Goals Team, and USDA APHIS, a panel of federal scientists discussed information on current regulation and communication efforts used by federal organizations to share information about invasive insects with the public, as well as partnership and funding opportunities.

Panelist: Christa SpeekmannChrista Speekmann is excited to return to her Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) roots as the Director of Pest Evaluation and Response for the USDA-APHIS. Previously, she was at APHIS-International Services as the Assistant Director of the Capacity Building center, where she oversaw international capacity building efforts, aimed at preventing, detecting and responding to plant and animal pest and pathogens. Prior to International Services, Christa was at APHIS - Veterinary Services, National Import Export Services as the Staff Officer for Aquaculture, where she was responsible for import and export, negotiations of live aquatic animal movements globally. Outside of work, Christa enjoys sewing and has made 60 masks with about a dozen more in the cue. She also enjoys wine tasting in VA and MD, theater (live or virtual) and new since COVID, puzzling….averaging one a month.

 

Panelist: John Crowe

Currently, John is the National Policy Manager covering all Pest Surveillance activities for PPQ, including the Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey (CAPS), PPQ Pest Detection Survey, and Plant Protection Act Section 7721 Goal 1 Survey. Prior to this, John was Spotted Lanternfly National Policy Manger from 2017 –2020. John started his career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2000 at the port of Chicago, Illinois where he was a port inspector for passenger baggage, rail cargo, air cargo, and mail inspections. In 2004, John became a Pest Survey Specialist and conducted exotic trapping programs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. He graduated from Drake University in Iowa with a Bachelor’s in Biology in 1999 and completed graduate courses in Plant and Insect Taxonomy and Geographic Information Systems. John has also been serving as the National Survey Supply Coordinator for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service since 2010. In this role, he works extensively with internal and external partners to deliver high quality insect traps and lures for APHIS survey programs. During this time, John has also acted as the Area Director for Preclearance and Off Shore Programs (POP) for Europe, Africa and the Middle East and has been active in Capacity Building exercises in India, Pakistan and the Caribbean.

 

Panelist: Michelle Gray

Michelle joined USDA APHIS in 2000 and spent time in Wildlife Services conducting national oversight on wildlife-related issues and in Policy and Program Development evaluating the environmental impact of APHIS programs and activities. In 2019, Michelle became an assistant director with the Plant Protection and Quarantine’s Plant Pest Risk Analysis unit. She oversees the development of Objective Prioritization of Exotic Pests (OPEP) Impact Assessments, Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) science-based products, and New Pest Response Guidelines. Michelle’s educational background includes an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Illinois and a graduate degree in zoology with a wildlife toxicology concentration from Southern Illinois University. When not at work, Michelle enjoys photography, running, and spending time with her family.
Panelist: Rebecca Stankiewicz GabelRebecca Stankiewicz Gabel is the Acting Director of the Imports, Regulations, and Manuals Division (IRM) in Pest Exclusion and Import Programs (PEIP), part of Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). She has worked for PPQ since 2014 as an Assistant Director in IRM, leading the Information Services and Manuals Unit. Prior to coming to PPQ, Rebecca worked for Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS). There, she held many positions: Regulatory Analyst, Senior Biotechnologist, Senior Environmental Protection Specialist, and Supervisory Environmental Protection Specialist. Rebecca completed postdoctoral research with ARS in Stoneville, MS, where she worked on cotton insect pests. She was an Assistant Professor at Shippensburg University, an Adjunct Professor at University of Maryland University College, an Instructor at Connecticut College. She holds an MS and PhD in Genetics and a BS in Animal Science all from the University of Connecticut.
Panelist: Ricardo ValdezRicardo Valdez is a National Policy Manager at the Pest Evaluation and Response (PER) unit within APHIS-PPQ. His duties include the coordination of the evaluation and mitigation strategies for new pests found within the United States. In his 22 years at PPQ, Ricardo has been a trainer in Frederick, Maryland and Agricultural Officer at the ports of El Paso, Texas and Baltimore, Maryland. Ricardo holds a Master of Science degree in Horticulture from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy from Monterrey Tech in Mexico. He lives in Howard County, Maryland with his wife Daria, two Jack Russells, and four horses.
Panelist: Van PichlerVan started with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in 1992 as an Employee Development Specialist. She provided leadership training, career counseling, training and change management consulting services for Agency programs. In 1995, she joined Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) as a Training Specialist at the Professional Development Center (PDC). She managed a variety of training programs for PPQ such as Intercultural Communication and Negotiation training, Animal Health Awareness, Plant Health Awareness, the Plant Health Systems Analysis Program, AQI Veterinary Program, and Leading in the 21st Century. She was promoted to a Supervisory Training Specialist in 2001. Her most notable accomplishments are developing and implementing a comprehensive employee development system, developing and implementing a leadership development program for PPQ, and the expansion of PDC’s functions and services to meet the needs of PPQ. In 2005, Van resigned from Federal Service to spend time with her family. She rejoined PPQ in 2007 as PDC’s Chief of Staff. Van worked for PPQ’s Resource Management Service’s staff working on special projects from 2014-2021. Currently, she is serves as a National Policy Advisor for PPQ’s Plant Protection Act, Section 7721 and manages the PPA 7721 program. Van holds a Bachelor’s of Science, Business and Technology from University of Maryland, Global Campus and holds numerous certifications in project management, instructional systems design, training evaluation, and psychological and psychometric assessment instruments.

Panelist: Dr. Yilmaz Balci

Dr. Yilmaz Balci is the assistant director of the Plants for Planting Policy program in APHIS PPQ. His team develops policies for new market access of propagative plant material, development of foreign plant production programs, development of import requirements for restricted plants and implementation of policies at Plant Inspection Stations. Prior joining APHIS, Dr. Balci spent 15 years in academia at West Virginia University and at the University of Maryland where he built a plant pathology program. His research portfolio ranged from management of exotic diseases in forest, urban and nursery ecosystems to development of nursery certification programs. He has published dozens of articles mainly on the plant pathogen Phytophthora and served as the editor of the journal Forest Pathology. Dr. Balci’s formal education includes a PhD in Plant Pathology from BOKU in Vienna, Austria, a MSc in Botany and Mycology and a BSc in Forest Engineering from the University of Istanbul.
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