Less than a year into his tenure as the new Endowed Chair for the Texas A&M Urban and Structural Program and Dr. Ed Vargo has already received national attention recently during a special ceremony in Nashville.
Vargo was awarded the Pest Control Technology/Syngenta Crown Leadership Award, which spotlights individuals who have positively contributed to growing and developing to the pest control industry and establishing ties to their communities.
Vargo became Professor and Endowed Chair for the university’s urban and structural program in December 2014 after replacing Dr. Roger Gold who retired in January 2015. He has been recognized as a respected urban entomologist for 17 years.
A native of California, Vargo began his undergraduate career at the Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, where he studied biology. After he graduated with his Bachelor of Science, he began post-graduate work first at the University of Massachusetts in 1980, where he studied social insects and termites before transferring to the University of Georgia in 1981.
While at Georgia, Vargo focused on fire ants and the role the queen plays in regulating reproduction and development, specifically the production of new alates in the colony. He graduated with a Ph.D. in entomology from Georgia in 1986.
Vargo went to the University of Texas in Austin as postdoctoral associate. Shortly after arriving at UT, he was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to work with Luc Passera in Toulouse, France, where he studied Argentine ants. He then returned to UT-Austin in 1989, where he partnered with the Texas Department of Agriculture officials on outreach and educational programs.
Before coming to Texas A&M, Vargo was at North Carolina State where he studied the population genetics of termites and other urban pests and performed research on various pest control issues and collaborated with pest control operators. He also trained graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, collaborated with researchers within and outside the department, and established a solid reputation for his scholarship in the field both nationally and internationally.
At NCSU, Vargo served as interim department head of the Department of Entomology from 2013-2014 and was the academic advisor for Pest Management Technology majors in the NCSU Agricultural Institute from 1998 to 2012. He also was faculty advisor to the department’s Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) from 2004 to 2005. As a graduate committee member, he has mentored over nine Master’s and 12 Ph.D. students during his term and has been a Thesis Committee Adviser for 5 Masters and 3 Ph.D. students.
Some of the grants Vargo received at NCSU included awards from the USDA’s National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program to do comparative studies of colony and population genetic structure of Reticulitermes termites, genetic structure of German cockroach populations in urban and agricultural environments, and population genetic structure of bed bugs, as well as a Tropical & Subtropical Agriculture Research grant to work on genetic analysis of colony organization and elimination in Formosan subterranean termites. He has also worked on several grants relating to the Texas Imported Fire Ant Program and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and his research has been strongly supported by the pest management industry.
Vargo is currently a member of several professional organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Entomological Society of America, and the International Union for the Study of Social Insects. He also has received the Entomological Society of America’s Recognition Award in Urban Entomology both at the national and the Southeastern Branch levels in 2006.
Vargo shared these thoughts on receiving the award, “It’s a tremendous honor to receive this prestigious award. This is a great recognition of our work at Texas A&M and what we’ve been able to contribute to the science and practice of urban entomology.”