Ticks are blood feeding ectoparasites that attack livestock, wildlife, humans, and companion animals. Ticks are active year round in Texas depending on species and developmental stage, and they are vectors of a broad range of pathogens capable of producing clinical diseases. Heavy tick infestations are known to negatively impact animal growth, productivity, reproduction, and wellbeing of livestock, companion animals and wildlife. Ticks and tick-borne diseases threaten the biosecurity and economic sustainability of ranching enterprises. Texas ranks first among states with the largest inventory of cattle and calves. Pastured beef represented the largest agricultural commodity in 2016 (21% of total value) with an estimated value of $5 billion and an estimated economic impact of $9.6 billion. Native and exotic hoof stock are complimentary economic components of many ranching enterprises. Deer breeding and hunting enterprises in Texas are estimated to generate $652 million in annual economic activity. Interactions of cattle and wildlife on Texas landscapes create challenges to development and implementation of effective integrated tick management systems. Ten of 47 known species of ticks in Texas are annual parasites of cattle and wildlife.
Two tick species are of critical importance to the cattle industry of Texas and the U.S. southern region. Cattle fever ticks, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, and R. (B.) annulatus, are vectors of two pathogens causing bovine babesiosis, collectively known as Texas cattle fever, that is highly fatal in naïve cattle. Once found throughout the southern region, cattle fever ticks and Texas cattle fever were eliminated by mid-20th century through state-federal eradication programs. Both ticks and pathogens remain in Mexico and pose constant threats of reintroduction to Texas. Cattle fever tick outbreaks in Texas are becoming more frequent and difficult to eliminate due to wildlife involvement, changes in land use, climate oscillations in wet-dry periods, brush invasion, and human interactions. In 2009, two separate outbreaks along the Texas-Mexico border resulted in more than 1 million acres quarantined in Texas. In 2016, the single tick outbreak in Live Oak County resulted in more than 2,400 quarantined premises in 67 counties with trace out investigations resulting in almost 1.2M acres outside the permanent quarantine zone along the Texas/Mexico border (additional 184,602 acres) (Data as of 20 Sep 2017, Texas Animal Health Commission). Without effective anti-babesia vaccines or drugs for treating infection, disease prevention is focused on elimination of cattle fever ticks. Diseased cattle moved from Mexico to feed lots in Texas pose no threat if the vector is absent. Texas is an entry point of cattle fever ticks. The goal is to prevent tick re-establishment of fever ticks across the southern region where there are more than 400,000 cattle producers at risk. This region produces the stock for more than 1/3 of all US fed beef.
The needs and opportunities to discover, develop, and implement new technologies, tactics, and strategies for tick surveillance and suppression are great. These include, but are not limited to, diagnostic detection of tick infested animals, improvements to tick surveillance, new anti-tick treatments, integration of complimentary anti-tick measures, and development and implementation of integrated systems for cattle fever tick eradication.
Appointment. This is a tenure-track appointment as an Assistant Professor of Entomology with a specialization in tick biology and tick-borne diseases. The position is located in College Station, TX and the appointment is a typical 10-month (9 + 1) on-campus research/teaching appointment. This 10-month appointment has job expectations in Research, Teaching and Service with approximately a 60%, 30% and 10% distribution of effort, respectively. However, the appointment may change in accordance with Departmental needs.
General Duties and Responsibilities. The incumbent faculty member will have primary responsibility for developing an internationally recognized and extramurally funded research program in tick biology and tick-borne pathogens that leads to new discoveries and methodologies that have significant positive impacts on the scientific discipline with the ultimate goal of providing novel control methods for ticks and the pathogens they transmit. The incumbent will be expected to develop strong ties with other faculty at Texas A&M, particularly with colleagues in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, at other institutions of higher education in Texas, particularly with UTMB Galveston who directs the CDC funded Western Gulf Center of Excellence in Vector Borne Disease (https://www.utmb.edu/wgcvbd), USDA laboratories working on ticks and tick borne diseases, and various state agencies and commissions tasked with monitoring ticks and tick-borne diseases.
The individual selected is expected to work closely with faculty colleagues in AgriLife Extension who have statewide responsibilities regarding livestock insects and other arthropods. This close affiliation with AgriLife Extension and AgriLife Research faculty in Entomology and with faculty in allied departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Animal Science, Ecosystem Science and Management, Wildlife and Fisheries Science), the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and with the Health Science Center in the case of tick-borne human pathogens is envisioned to expand the research opportunities for the successful candidate. The candidate is expected to engage in development, testing, demonstration and implementation of new technologies supporting integrated approaches to tick management.
There are additional state agencies and federal labs that will also need to be engaged with the research program of the candidate for tick species that are highly regulated and for the adoption of new methods to use in support of the state-federal cattle fever tick eradication program. With regard to classroom teaching, there currently is a graduate course, ENTO 617 Acarology, 4 cr, (3,3) offered on an alternate year basis that we expect the incumbent to teach. A typical teaching appointment in the Department of Entomology is teaching at least one 3-credit undergraduate course each year and developing and teaching one or more graduate level courses offered initially on an alternate year basis. Assignment of courses is done by the Department Head in consultation with the Associate Department Head for Academic Programs with consultation with the faculty member. The Department offers two baccalaureate degrees, one in Entomology (ENTO) and one in Forensic and Investigative Sciences (FIVS). Graduate degrees include MS and PhD programs in Entomology and individual faculty can become affiliated with university wide interdisciplinary degree programs in genetics, neurobiology, biotechnology, and ecology & evolutionary biology, etc. Teaching also involves mentoring of undergraduate researchers, MS and PhD students, and post-docs as appropriate and is expected of all faculty.
Facilities. Current Texas A&M AgriLife Research facilities assigned to Tick Research program on the campus of Texas A&M University comprise 1,932 sq. ft. of laboratory and office space in a stand-alone building (Bldg No. 1047) and a 1,700 sq. ft. Entomology Tick Lab located within the Veterinary Medicine Research Park south of Agronomy Road. The Tick Lab has an animal room for tick rearing with 6-elevated animal stalls, feed storage, tick colony room, freezer storage, tick reference and teaching collections, and office space for faculty, staff and students.
The Entomology Tick Lab also has outside paddocks and facilities for handling cattle and other large animals.
Salary. Salary will be commensurate with the incumbent’s qualifications and experience. A generous benefits package accompanies all faculty positions with respect to access to health care, sick leave, and retirement benefits (see: http://employees.tamu.edu/benefits/general/). A generous start-up package will be provided.
Administrative Relationship. The immediate supervisor is the Entomology Department Head with the assistance of the Associate Head for Academic Programs where appropriate. Ultimately the department reports to senior administrators in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Directors of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and AgriLife Research. Each faculty member shall exhibit collegiality to all faculty, staff, students, clientele groups, and local administrators. Faculty are expected to cooperate and collaborate with faculty as appropriate for the successful execution of their general duties and responsibilities in support of the Department’s mission, goals, and code of conduct statement.
Qualifications: Ph.D. or equivalent degree in Entomology or related biological field is required and must be completed prior to the date of the appointment to the faculty. Candidates should have a strong record of scholarly achievement including peer-reviewed journal publications. It is highly desired that the candidate will have demonstrated success in securing grants or a strong potential to secure extramural funding. Desired qualifications include training and experience in tick biology, management, and disease transmission and prevention. Additional desired qualifications include experience teaching at the undergraduate or graduate level and experience in mentoring students. The successful candidate will demonstrate an ability to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams and have excellent written and oral communication skills.
Closing date. Review of applications will begin on December 2017 and continue until a suitable candidate is identified. Send all application materials to:
Department of Entomology Texas A&M University Attn: Ms. Teresa Gold
Minnie Belle Heep Center Room 412 College Station, Texas 77843-2475 Phone: (979) 845-2510
Application Process. The Texas A&M System is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Veterans/Disability Employer committed to diversity. The Department of Entomology, together with Texas A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife Research, seeks individuals who are able to work with diverse students and colleagues, who have experience with a variety of teaching methods and curricular perspectives, and who will contribute to the diversity efforts of the University. Applications must include a letter of interest that describes your research interest, your teaching and student mentorship experience or philosophy along with a complete CV, copies of transcripts, and names of three references whom we may contact for letters of recommendation (and any individuals on a do not contact list). Please provide a complete mailing address, email and phone number, and a brief statement of how each referee knows the candidate.
Visit https://entomology.tamu.edu and for more information about the department.