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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

University of Guam Scientists Successfully Compete for Research Grants

Coconut Rhinoceros BeetleResearch at WPTRC is as diverse as the agencies that fund the many projects geared toward protecting the environment, helping farmers and studying the ecosystems of the island and the region.

Greg Wiecko heads the WPTRC. “Dr. Wiecko has been urging his faculty to find new sources of external funds, and this year they have responded with this impressive list of funding agencies that are now supporting the WPTRC and its role in meeting UOG’s mission,” said Lee S. Yudin, Dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is a new source of funding for WPTRC scientist Gadi Reddy. A chemical ecologist and entomologist, Dr. Reddy will seek to eliminate the use of toxic insecticides by developing ecologically sound and cost effective integrated pest management practices (IPM) for Guam farmers with a $50,000 EPA grant.

Dr. Reddy is working toward increasing ecological insect pest management on Guam through the application of semiochemicals with $60,000 in funding from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program of the US Department of Agriculture.

WPTRC researchers have successfully tapped the support of several other USDA agencies to mitigate the threat of invasive species to endemic plants. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has awarded $30,000 in funding to Thomas Marler to study biocontrol issues for cycad aulacaspis scale and cycad blue butterfly. Entomologist Aubrey Moore has also received $223,995 in funding from USDA APHIS to address the devastation of Guam’s coconut trees due to the voracious appetite of the rhinoceros beetle.

USDA Forest Service has also funded Dr. Moore with $254,000 for coconut rhinoceros eradication efforts and they are providing $18,000 in support of Dr. Marler’s continued monitoring of ongoing activities for Guam’s threatened cycads.

In addition, USDA T-STAR (Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture Research) has recently awarded $120,318 to Marler, in collaboration with pollination biologist Irene Terry, for studies of the little known pollination process of Cycas micronesica.

In the agricultural arena, T-STAR is funding the research of Dr. George Wall, plant pathologist, in collaboration with Dr. D. Nandwani from the Northern Marianas College with a $162,856 award toward improving papaya cultivars from the Mariana Islands in their tolerance to papaya ringspot virus (PRV) and other important diseases.

rhinobeetle1Hui Gong, an aquaculture researcher with WPTRC, was awarded a $186,960 T-STAR grant for genetic variability studies of specific pathogen free (SPF) Pacific white shrimp, Penaeus vannamei. She has also received $60,000 in funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a pioneering study of shrimp nutrition and genetics as well as monies from the Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture for establishing a comprehensive and strategic health management scheme to protect the entire region from the introduction of viral pathogens to shrimp operations.

WPTRC scientists honor the UOG mission, “To Enlighten, to Discover, to Serve.”

Edel Alonhttp://edelalon.com
Edel-Ryan Alon is a starving musician, failed artist, connoisseur of fine foods, aspiring entrepreneur, husband, father of two, geek by day, cook by night, and an all around great guy.

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