Skip to content

Advocacy in Action: A Symposium for Everyone Interested in Science Advocacy and Invasive Species

Symposium audience members

The Student Affairs Committee’s symposium at Entomology 2019 will offer opportunities to learn about addressing invasive species issues through collaboration, policy, and public engagement.

By Jocelyn R. Holt

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series contributed by the ESA Student Affairs Committee. See other posts by and for entomology students here at Entomology Today.

Every year members of the ESA Student Affairs Committee (SAC) organize a symposium on a topic that is both interesting and relevant to the greater entomological community. In 2018 the SAC focused on Tackling Insecticide Resistance, while in 2017 the Power of Collaboration in entomological research was addressed. This year, we are excited to announce our upcoming symposium “Advocacy in Action: Tackling Invasive Species through Collaboration, Policy, and Public Engagement.” The 2019 SAC Symposium committee is composed of Meredith R. Spence Beaulieu, Molly Darlington, Lina Bernaola, Rebecca Zimler, Aditi Dubey, and Jocelyn R. Holt.

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend the Grand Challenges Summit on Invasive Species and found the discussions, breakout sessions, and presentations inspiring. This year, the SAC has selected 12 speakers from different stages in their careers who will cover a diversity of topics from collaborative research and management of invasive species to science policy, as well as science advocacy and engagement with the public.

With the ESA Annual Meeting in St. Louis right around the corner, I am sure everyone is busy thinking about what to pack, wrapping up presentations, and selecting activities to attend. While you have many activities to choose from each year at ESA, I would like to share the thought-provoking speakers and topics in our Advocacy in Action symposium.

Each topic in our symposium is listed below along with an overview of each speaker. On behalf of the SAC, we hope that you will join us on Sunday 17 November from 1:30 to 5:10 pm in America’s Center Room 241.

Science Policy and Monitoring Plans

The path towards monitoring and managing invasive insects begins with establishing effective science policy and monitoring plans. Leyla V. Kaufman is the program coordinator for Mamalu Poepoe, an interagency airports monitoring project, and will explain how Hawai’i’s biosecurity relies on interagency collaboration to identify invasive insects and mitigate their presence. Vanessa Lopez, Invasive Plants National Program Manager, will provide perspective on invasive species management in our nation’s forests and grasslands. Tyler J. Raszick, a postdoctoral research associate, will explain how effective science policy allowed for boll weevil eradication. Helen Spafford, associate professor and Grand Challenges Agenda for Entomology chair, will discuss how scientists connecting with policymakers can positively impact invasive species prevention and management.

Collaborative Research and Integrated Pest Management for Controlling Invasive Species

When tackling invasive species, it is important to understand aspects such as life history, behavior, genetic composition, location of origin, and economic impact of pest damage—all of which facilitate informed integrated pest management (IPM) decisions. IPM is a collection of techniques that helps to identify and monitor a causal agent or pest, evaluates pest damage and what action is required, works to prevent pest problems, and takes action with continued monitoring to reduce negative impacts.

Dennis Calvin, who is the Associate Dean and Director of Special Programs at Penn State Extension, will discuss how cooperation among agencies in the eastern United States is essential to developing extension and research projects to manage the spotted lanternfly. Philip Fanning, a postdoctoral research associate, will discuss how integrated pest management is used in blueberry crops to control spotted wing drosophila and a secondary pest, blueberry stem gall wasp. Erin Hodgson, an associate professor and extension entomologist who is also the ANR crops team leader, will provide a perspective on the intersection of extension and research and how this can promote the use of IPM in field crops, with a focus on soybean aphid. Johanna Elsensohn, a graduate student with a focus on science policy, will explain the necessity of developing new tactics to control invasive pests and will discuss potential impacts of implementation, using spotted wing drosophila as a case study.

While many invasive species have management plans that minimize negative impacts, it is sometimes possible to eradicate an invasive species. Sheina Sim is a research biologist at USDA-ARS who analyzes the Mexican fruit fly genome for use with Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and will discuss how interagency collaboration is necessary to maintain the eradication of the Mexican fruit fly, a pest that attacks numerous fruit crops.

Science Advocacy and Engagement with the Public

While both science policy and research focused on integrated pest management are essential to identifying and managing invasive species, increasing public engagement and participation can be a key to achieving widespread success. Colin Cassin is a policy and program development analyst from the Invasive Species Centre and will be giving a talk about how to implement a collaborative approach for extension on invasive species.

Public engagement can also take the form of citizen science, where the community aids in actions such as policy decisions, data collection, and data analysis. Karen Poh, a postdoc associate, will talk about work on the parasite hunters project and how citizen science was used to engage hunters about ticks and tick-borne diseases. Similarly, Rebeccah A. Waterworth, who is a research associate, focuses on engaging citizen scientists to aid in the search for biological control of brown marmorated stink bugs.

On behalf of the SAC, we hope that this symposium inspires you to consider new ideas in your own research and to obtain a better understanding of the complexity of identifying and managing invasive species. During the symposium there is both a 25-minute break and 15-minute discussion, which will allow participants to stand up, stretch, and spark lively conversations. If you plan your schedule like me and often sit in on parts of different overlapping activities, I wish you the best sprinting from one end of the convention center to the other. I look forward to seeing you there and encourage you to use #EntSoc19 when posting about our symposium and other ESA activities!

Jocelyn R. Holt is a Ph.D. candidate in entomology at Texas A&M University and is the 2018-2019 chair of the ESA Student Affairs Committee. Twitter: @JocelynRHolt. Email:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.