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Magic in mango research

Assa speaks with mango wholesalers.

Here I am talking to mango wholesalers about the fruit fly.

Today’s post comes to us from Assa Balayara, a graduate research assistant within the Entomology Department at Virginia Tech. Her research, funded by ERA-Senegal, focuses on the economic impact of the invasive fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis) on mango production in her native Senegal.

I learn something new every time I step into a field. Fieldwork is where I come to life. Venturing away from the lab and onto the land offers me a chance to meet growers, wholesalers and retailers in their natural environments — the orchards. I study the mango fruit fly, a pest with devastating effects on mango orchards, and one that has a huge economic impact on the people who cultivate the big round fruit. Continue reading »

I just wanted to. . .

“I am just writing to follow up. . .”


These were words I once wrote in an email to a prospective employer six years ago when I was looking for my first full-time position after undergrad. My mother,  a retired U.S. diplomat and my at-the-time personal editor-in-chief of all cover letters and emails, quickly advised me to avoid using the word “just.” It hedges your speech, ability and competence, and it screams “millennial.”

Recently, this notion of the word “just” re-emerged. An article by Ellen Leanse, a former Google Exec, surfaced on my LinkedIn account. Continue reading »

The circular path of life

me and butterfly

Here I am with a butterfly at the state fair.

Today’s post comes to us from Kendall Livick, who is temporarily stepping in for Kelly Izlar, Communications Coordinator for the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab.

It is with great enthusiasm that I begin this temporary position here at OIRED — specifically within the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab, as a communications coordinator — filling in for Kelly Izlar who is on maternity leave. But it could be argued that my introduction into the subject matter (bugs and whatnot) began long before I discovered this opportunity.

Eight years ago, as an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech, I chose an elective — Insects and Human Society — that would fulfill a science credit. Although the class seemed like a random choice that didn’t pertain to my major or any of my future goals at the time, the professors had great reviews on, and the course description sounded intriguing. Some of my friends enrolled in the class as well, which made it all the more fun, as we together learned about the role of insects in diseases, plant life, the arts, and as culinary delights. Continue reading »

Agriculture in Nepal: How do we inspire a new generation to go into farming?

farmer plows field

A farmer in Nepal plows his field with two oxen. (Photo by Mike Mulvaney.)

Today’s post comes to us from a guest blogger who has written for us before: Sulav Paudel. Paudel is the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab program coordinator at iDE-Nepal, an NGO in Nepal and a partner organization with our Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab. Paudel has a Master’s degree in entomology and international agriculture from Penn State. He has worked and studied in Brazil, Bangladesh, and Russia. He currently lives and works in Kathmandu.

Long hours, intense physical labor, volatile market prices, low pay, and uncertainties: who would want to be a farmer today? It’s something that all of us – consumers, producers, traders, policymakers and NGOs – need to think about seriously. When I go to the grocery store here in Nepal, I pay a few rupees for the food I eat. But I don’t see what’s behind all the food in the store. I don’t see the farmers who help bring fruits and vegetables to my table. Continue reading »