By Dominic Reisig
I just returned late Wednesday night from the 2013 Entomological Society of America Meeting in Austin, Texas. These meetings are important for us to attend as scientists because they provide a platform for information exchange. As one seasoned county agent recently told me, there is no substitute for face-to-face contact. This meeting was definitely a success, since I was able to dovetail this meeting with industry and university collaborators. In addition, one of my students, Alejandro Del-Pozo Valdiva presented in two symposia, speaking on his experience as a Latino student and on his research on the invasive Megacopta cribraria (kudzu bug).
Finally, I enjoyed the beauty of early morning runs along the Colorado River (complete with a funky tree suspended above the river), a trip to Pedernales Falls State Park, and a little live music. Details of some highlights of my meeting are below.
Before the ESA meeting, I attended a meeting with Pioneer to recap some research with new Bt corn traits. Some of my research was presented, and I was able to learn about how corn earworm larvae move among plants within a row and how increasing blended refuge (aka refuge in a bag) can decrease efficacy. I have not observed this in North Carolina, so this was a great learning opportunity for me.
During the ESA meeting, I was able to attend many interesting presentations. Of particular interest to me was a presentation by Rick Roush. He concluded that failure to prevent resistance in pesticides and Bt is a social science issue. He promoted the idea of some government intervention, pointing out a success in Australia with some limited intervention and social pressure among growers.
The student competition presentations and posters are generally my favorite. With prizes and prestige on the line, students pour a ton of effort into making a sharp product. I was able to meet some great students after their presentations, and am very impressed by many of their creative methods to answer scientific questions. Even though there were so many presentations going on at once, I could follow interesting tidbits from some of those I follow on Twitter (my handle is @DominicDReisig). It’s really fantastic that so many ESA members are active in social media.
The most important part of these meetings are the contacts that are formed. I met with collaborators on newly-funded grants to establish details on methods. Furthermore, I had the exciting opportunity to meet with the new Integrated Refuge Management head from Monsanto. We are going to partner to increase refuge compliance within North Carolina.
I was also able to meet some students working on some similar projects with kudzu bugs as my students in NC. Hopefully we can leverage our research to learn as much as quickly as possible on this invasive insect pest. Finally, I was able to initiate contact with several prominent researchers in Bt resistance. This would not be possible without a single meeting like this that gathers entomologists across geographies and disciplines from the government and private sectors.
Having written this is making me tired again. Even though it was a great experience, it was mentally and physically taxing. There is no place like home, and I was happy to return to one happy family!
P.S. If you ever get to Austin, you must visit The Brass House. A phenomenal drummer Dean Macomber plays there (video below).
Dominic Reisig is an Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University. Follow him on Twitter at @DominicDReisig. Please visit the North Carolina Field Crops Website for more detailed information.