UWA appointment to boost entomology research and teaching

28 Oct, 2011 11:42 AM
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Christian Nansen in Niger, inspecting a pearl millet spike for millet head miner.
Christian Nansen in Niger, inspecting a pearl millet spike for millet head miner.

Christian Nansen has been appointed Associate Professor in Applied Entomology to join researchers at The University of Western Australia (UWA) Institute of Agriculture (IOA) in a fight to ‘beat the bugs’.

The new position, effective from January, 2012, is a joint initiative between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and The University of Western Australia, and will benefit grain growers locally and nationally.

GRDC western panel chairman Peter Roberts said Dr Nansen would help protect Australia’s grain crops from insect pests by establishing an exciting new program of research, development and teaching in entomology.

“This program is aimed at developing technologies and integrated pest management (IPM) practices that will enable Australia’s grain producers to adopt best practice insecticide inputs while maintaining profitability,” he said.

IPM principles involve first assessing insect damage on emerging plants before deciding whether to spray, rather than relying on ‘insurance’ sprays.

Mr Roberts said Dr Nansen’s appointment would lead to the creation of an entomology ‘centre’ at UWA which would produce trained entomologists and conduct entomology and IPM research in collaboration with growers, industry and researchers.

UWA IOA director Professor Kadambot Siddique said Australia currently had a marked shortage of trained entomology researchers and field entomologists.

“Dr Nansen’s appointment will help rebuild capacity in applied entomology in Australia by training undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as staff from departments of primary industry, and commercial and field agronomists,” he said.

“Dr Nansen will also help to coordinate national entomology research which improves our understanding of the complex interactions between insects, plants and their environments, and meets the needs of grain growers.”

Professor Siddique said improved pest management and the judicious use of chemicals by growers could lead to reduced input costs and healthier environmental outcomes.

“Many growers apply broad-spectrum chemicals as ‘insurance treatments’ simply because they do not have access to reliable information about the real risks to their crops,” he said.

Dr Nansen holds a PhD in Zoology from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark, and a Master of Biology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

He joins UWA from the USA, where for the past five years he has worked as Assistant Professor in Grain Entomology and Imaging Analysis at the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University, and in the Department of Soil Science at Texas Technical University.

Besides his research activities, he has taught both undergraduate and graduate students and coordinated exchange programs between USA and Brazilian universities.

For more information about Dr Nansen, visit his website.

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