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Graduate Student Receives Southern Integrated Pest Management Graduate Student Award

May 16, 2013

Tallahassee, Fla.
– Saundra Wheeler, a graduate student majoring in entomology at Florida A&M University (FAMU), has been named the recipient of the Friends of Southern Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Graduate Student Award in the masters’ category. Wheeler was presented with the award by Henry Fadamiro, the associate director of the Southern Region Integrated Pest Management, during the 17th Biennial Research Symposium of the Association of 1890 Research Directors, Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Friends of Southern IPM Awards Program recognizes extraordinary achievement in research, extension, and implementation of IPM in the Southern Region of the United States. The Graduate Student Award was created last year to honor two exceptional graduate students, one at the master’s level and one at the Ph.D. level with an honorarium, a plaque and the opportunity to publish an article about their research. The nominees from 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Universities and Colleges were evaluated based upon their potential contributions in integrated pest management in the Southern Region of the United States.

Wheeler, an outstanding student leader and scholar in the FAMU College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS) said, “Receiving this award from professionals in my field is significant because it validates my choice to be become an entomologist as well as the hard work it took to complete my studies.  To be the first African-American female graduate student and the first student from an 1890 institution to ever receive this significant honor is indeed a milestone for my journey.” 

Wheeler had expressed appreciation to her graduate professor, Lambert Kanga, program leader for FAMU’s Entomology Program, for the high degree of support and mentoring he provided throughout her course of study.

The award recognizes Wheeler’s research on the small hive beetle, which poses a serious threat to honey bee colonies and agriculture because of the contributions made to crop pollination by the bees. Wheeler identified a fungal strain that is highly pathogenic to this beetle and is more effective in managing the small hive beetle than most pesticides currently used for control. Based on her research, she proposed a pest management strategy, which could easily be adopted by beekeepers and is cost-effective, affordable, and sustainable.

Robert W. Taylor, dean and director of Land-Grant Programs, FAMU’s CAFS, said, “We are very proud of Ms. Wheeler’s achievement of receiving this esteemed award from the Friends of Southern Integrated Pest Management. Her recognition brings distinction to both FAMU and the 1890 land-grant institutions. She has worked with diligence and a standard of excellence to achieve her goals.  The fact that she was able to rise to the top from among a group of highly competitive scholars speaks volumes about Saundra’s academic proficiency as well as the quality of the scientific programs that are ongoing in our college and at this university.  On behalf of the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the college, I take this opportunity to congratulate Saundra on this outstanding achievement in the first phase of her professional career.”

About the Southern Region IPM Center
The Southern Region IPM Center is one of four regional centers funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Integrated Research, Education and Extension Competitive Grants Program – Integrated Pest Management. It covers Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the Virgin Islands.

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