Department Hires Research, Extension Faculty Members

Badillo working in greenhouse

Ismael Badillo-Vargas working in the greenhouse. Submitted photo.

The Department of Entomology, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension would like to welcome Dr. Ismael Badillo-Vargas and Suhas Vyavhare to its faculty roster.

Badillo-Vargas will start on February 1 as the newest vector entomologist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center in Weslaco while Vyavhare will start February 1 as an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Lubbock.

Badillo-Vargas was born and raised in Puerto Rico and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez with a Bachelor of Science in Crop Protection, a Master of Science in Plant Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Kansas State University.

Before coming to Texas A&M, Badillo-Vargas was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Kansas State and then moved to the University of Florida where he was a postdoctoral research associate within a partnership with the university and the US Department of Agriculture’s Horticultural Research in Fort Pierce. At Florida, he continued studying the interactions between insects and the plant pathogens they transmit and characterizing emerging and re-emerging plant viruses in vegetables.

The overarching goal of his program will be to seek to combine basic and applied research to understand the fundamental aspects that underline the intrinsic plant-insect vector-pathogen interactions. He wants to be able to develop novel strategies, coupled with more conventional approaches, can become the basis of sound integrated management programs to support growers. These programs can not only support the growers, but can also strengthen the economy and promote a healthier environment, he said.

“The Lower Rio Grande Valley offers a perfect scenario with a number of different pathosystems that involve insect vectors as the main or only mean of transmission of plant pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi that cause serious problems in both agricultural and natural ecosystems,” Badillo-Vargas said. “Studying and fighting off the insect vectors and plant pathogens they transmit is essential to achieve food security while preserving our natural resources and promoting human and animal health.”

“I am very excited to be joining the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco and the Department of Entomology at TAMU to develop a productive and innovative Insect Vector Biology program,” he added.

Suhas working in the lab

Suhas Vyavhare working in the lab. Photo by Rob Williams.

Vyavhare received his bachelor’s in agriculture from the College of Agriculture Pune, India and master’s in Plant, Soil, and Environmental Science from West Texas A&M University. Vyavhare then graduated with his Ph.D. in Entomology from Texas A&M in 2014.

During the time he was at Beaumont, he was in charge of implementing, managing and supervising applied research addressing entomological issues in soybeans, rice, sugar cane, and sorghum. Vyavhare also designed and conducted various field trials evaluating biological performance of crop protection products.

Vyavhare has developed a research proposal that secured funding from the USDA to investigate the susceptibility of insecticides and esterase activity in the red-banded stink as a graduate research assistant from 2010-2014. Vyavhare taught Medina’s Principles of Insect Pest Management (ENTO 401) class during the fall of 2013.

Vyavhare received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the Mahatma Phule Agricultural University in Rahuri, India and his Master of Science in Plant, Soil and Environmental Science from West Texas A&M University. He then received his Ph.D. in Entomology from Texas A&M in 2014.

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