COLLEGE STATION, Texas—The Department of Entomology has started the New Year off right as it celebrates the recipients of the latest round of awards given at the 2017 Texas A&M AgriLife Conference.
The awards were given during the Research and Extension awards presentation on Tuesday in the Memorial Student Center’s Bethancourt Ballroom.
Dr. Jeff Tomberlin was honored as a Texas A&M AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow, an honorific title he will keep throughout his tenure at Texas A&M. This was awarded for his outstanding research in the field of forensic entomology.
Tomberlin is an Associate Professor with the Department and is Director of the Forensic & Investigative Sciences Program and principal investigator of the Forensic Laboratory for Investigative Entomological Sciences (F.L.I.E.S.) Facility (forensicentomology.tamu.edu) in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University.
Tomberlin has attracted more than $2.2 million in the past five years and the results of his studies are widely published and cited worldwide. He is also active in various U.S. forensic science associations and has served as American Board of Forensic Entomology president.
“I am so honored to receive such a recognition from Texas AgriLife Research,” Tomberlin said. “Such an award only inspires me to continue to pushing forward with my research for the benefit of humanity.”
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service also awarded the Superior Service Award to the Arbovirus Team and the North Region – Cotton Resistant Weed Management Team during the ceremony.
The Arbovirus Team consists of Dr. Sonja Swiger, Dr. Mike Merchant, Dr. Holly Jarvis Whitaker (Coordinator of Educational Media and Online Curriculum Development-Texas A&M AgriLife Communications), Steve Byrns, Diane Bowen, Bill Watson, Wizzie Brown, and Molly Keck (Extension Program Specialist III) and Robin Williams.
The team was awarded for their outstanding efforts in developing and providing educational materials to help protect Texans from the West Nile Virus and Zika from 2012 to 2016.
According to the nomination, the team was started as a response during the West Nile Virus outbreak that hit Texas in 2012. In response to the outbreak, Swiger was named to lead a task force charged with developing and delivering educational program on mosquito management.
With the emergence of WNV as a significant health threat in the mid to late summer of 2012, the team delivered 2 AgriLife press releases, 13 blog posts, 1 web publication, 3 mosquito and WNV specific websites, 3 newsletter articles, 20 newspaper articles, 5 videos, 16 radio and TV interviews and 13 WNV seminars. The efforts of the Extension Entomology group in 2012 educated thousands and aided county and municipal officials in understanding the problem and rapidly initiating mosquito control programs. Mosquito control programs initiated in urban areas reduced levels of WNV infection.
The first phase of the Zika campaign began in 2016 with the creation of reported 17 presentations on mosquitoes and Zika, six Trainings for County Extension Agents, 68 newsletter articles written, 3 articles in magazines for pest management professionals, 97 newspaper/on-line articles, and 36 TV and radio programs.
“Your excellent work has been recognized at a very high level and in a very meaningful way! Your work went a long way in getting people the information they needed to stay healthy,” said Dr. Charles Allen, Associate Department Head for Extension Entomology Programs.
In addition to the Arbovirus Team, Extension Agents-IPM Blayne Reed and Kerry Siders received Superior Service Award for the Team category. Reed and Siders were part of the North Region – Cotton Resistant Weed Management Team.