IPM Innovation Lab
The Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab (IPM IL) is a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded, multi-year investment led by Virginia Tech University. The Asian vegetable and mango IPM IL program, which operates in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Cambodia, is led by Dr. George Norton from Virginia Tech University in collaboration with Penn State, Ohio State, and Washington State University. Drs. Edwin George Rajotte (Dept. of Entomology) and Cristina Rosa (Dept. of Pathology) lead efforts from Penn State.
The major objective of this five-year program (2015-2019) is to undertake adaptive research with existing and new vegetable IPM practices and packages to local conditions, and in the meantime work with public- and private-sector partners to diffuse IPM practices and packages to farmers. Programs in Nepal and Cambodia exclusively focus on vegetables (e.g., tomato, cucurbits, beans, chillies, etc.), whereas Bangladesh has mango along with vegetables.
Capacity building through both long-term (recruiting M.S. and Ph.D. students) and short-term trainings (workshops, seminars, field days, etc.) is a key aspect of the program. “I am part of this program for the last twenty years now, and when I look back, our investment in graduate students has made the most impact,” said Dr. Rajotte, who led the south Asian program until 2011. He further explained that, “the collaboration with the scientists from developing countries provides an important channel for the exchange of knowledge and expertise, and apply them to solve local problems.”
Sulav Paudel, a native of Nepal, was selected in Fall 2016 to pursue his Ph.D. as part of the program. He works with Drs. Edwin Rajotte and Cristina Rosa to test and develop a model to project the impacts of variation in temperature and climate on crop risks, especially from insects and viruses. Part of his project is in Nepal where he studies various thrips species and the virus they transmit along the various gradients (taking elevation as proxy), which represent various climatic zones.
After joining Penn State Sulav said, “I am pretty excited about this opportunity, and I strongly believe that the valuable learning experiences working with professors and colleagues during my time here will impart skills and bring changes in me that the current world needs.”