OVERTON, Texas — The Department of Entomology and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service recently named Erfan Vafaie as the Extension Program Specalist I in Overton. Vafaie will start his position at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center team in Overton on December 2.
Before being hired at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Vafaie was a research technician at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario, Canada. While at Vineland, he researched biological control of whiteflies and spotted wing Drosophila flies. He also was responsible for direct communication with growers and other industry and research fellows. He also worked as an IPM consultant for Integrated Crop Research and Management and an Operations Associate Intern at Urban Produce, Inc.
Vafaie gained experience as a research assistant at the Institut De Recherche En Biologie Vegetale in Montreal,Quebec where he worked under the supervision of Dr. Jaques Brodeur. In that position, he conducted research on the voracity of different species of lady beetles and ground beetles, as well as assisting in the collection and assessment of pests in two willow wood tree plantations. He also was involved in collecting and rearing swallow parasites from more than 200 nests in the outer Montreal region.
Vafaie received a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Biology from the University of Western Ontario and then his Masters in Pest Management, Integrated Pest Management from Simon Fraser University. He has received several awards and honors, including the B.P. Beirne Prize in Pest Management, the Thelma Finlayson Graduate Fellowship and the Millennium Scholarship.
Extension program leader and statewide IPM coordinator Charles Allen was very excited to see Vafaie come aboard to Overton.
“We are very happy to have Mr. Erfan Vafaie joining the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service IPM team,” Allen said. “The selection committee is thrilled to have Erfan coming to work with them. I think he will be a great addition to the IPM program and a tremendous asset to Texas nursery and greenhouse growers.”
Allen was very impressed at Vafaie’s expertise and communication skills and said that he would be a great asset to the Overton AgriLife Center and Extension.
“He impressed the group with his knowledge, attitude, communication skills and willingness to go to work to help them solve IPM related problems. His background equips him well for the job,” Allen said.