NSF grant to fund student research in Australia on horticultural pests

nsf grant

Participating students will be mentored by Macquarie University faculty members Phil Taylor (right) and Ian Jamie (center).

A three-year, $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will allow 18 students from Eastern Mennonite University and nearby colleges to gain cross-cultural and research experience – in Australia.

The grant will fund the “Tephritid fruit fly Multidisciplinary Australian Research Collaboration for Biosecurity” (T-MARC-BIO) initiative, which is led by EMU chemistry Professor Matthew Siderhurst.

Tephritid fruit flies are “among the most damaging horticultural insect pests worldwide, constituting pest management issues, trade barriers, and invasion threats for Australia, the U.S., and throughout the tropics and subtropics,” according to T-MARC-BIO documents.

The student research will be aimed at bolstering strategies for monitoring and controlling the invasive fruit fly species in ways that will reduce the negative impacts of pesticide use.

Learn more about the grant.

Growing a globally engaged STEM workforce

The T-MARC-BIO initiative will recruit students, including from underrepresented populations in STEM fields, thereby contributing to the establishment of a more diverse and globally engaged scientific workforce.

In each of the three years, six STEM students selected from EMU, James Madison University, Bridgewater College and Blue Ridge Community College will first prepare in a semester-long program. It will include cross-cultural and other trainings led by EMU faculty.

Siderhurst has a long track record of advising students in research since he came to EMU 13 years ago. They have been the lead authors for six publications and provided 11 co-authorships.

They will then travel to Australia for seven weeks in the summer to conduct individual research projects and be immersed in local culture. Finally, they will communicate their research through scientific journals and presentations.

Students who have been advised by Siderhurst since he came to EMU 13 years ago have been the lead authors for six publications and provided 11 co-authorships. They have given eight presentations at meetings of the Entomological Society of America, the American Chemical Society, the Virginia Academy of Science and the UMBC Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences.

Their subsequent pursuits have included graduate studies in biology or chemistry at institutions including Penn State and Duke Universities, attending medical school, earning graduate degrees in health fields, and teaching high school biology.

Cultivating a collective understanding about fruit flies

In what Siderhurst describes as “one of the best things” about the initiative, students will be mentored by Macquarie University (MU) faculty members Phil Taylor and Ian Jamie and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries senior entomologist Stefano De Faveri.

MU, a public research university with more than 40,000 students, and the department both participate in the Centre for Fruit Fly Biosecurity Innovation, and will provide access to facilities and equipment.

Their results, collectively, will increase understanding of fruit flies’ metabolism, interactions with smells, and movements in the environment, as well as the development of effective means of controlling the pests.

“Everyone will be working with tephritid fruit flies, but different students will be working in the lab, in the field, on chemistry and biology,” said Siderhurst.

In collaboration with their mentors and overseeing faculty, students will share findings in peer-reviewed publications as well as posters and oral presentations. Their research will be available for use by other researchers, agricultural entities and government regulators.

Australia connections and other research

Siderhurst has long wanted to involve students in his research in Australia. He grew up there, and his other Australia-based research collaborations have attracted over $1.6 million in funding.

Siderhurst and De Faveri are currently involved in two projects – on the fruit piercing moth and fruit flies in mangoes – in Australia, Virginia and Hawaii.

Read more about student research experiences with Siderhurst:

Story by Christopher Clymer Kurtz



augusta free press
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.

AFP Business

As professional consultants, Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including website design, SEO, TV/radio, video work, branding and logos, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation. Augusta Free Press LLC was founded in 2002.

Web Design

Augusta Free Press has designed more than 800 websites for clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design, content development and SEO. Short on staff? We’ll work with you to update your AFP-designed website in a timely manner or train your staff to make changes.

Marketing/Social Media Management

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Graphic Design

Augusta Free Press will help you take your vision to the next level. From branding and logos to print materials, our team will work with you to develop products to showcase your business. From brochures and rack cards to full-color magazines or print/digital ads, we’ve got you covered.

Event Planning/Fundraising

Augusta Free Press will help you plan the best event for your organization. From an open house or anniversary to a 5K or Pay Per View, we can handle it all. Looking for training for your sales staff? We can help energize your employees or board. Need ideas to raise more money? Let us help you plan a successful event. Want to hold a news conference or need help with a press release? We can do that too.

Click here for more.