Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris, Ph.D

Postdoctoral Research Associate (@Phytoseiid)

landscape ecology | biological control | integrated pest management | agricultural entomology

Rebecca is interested in how agricultural management practices and landscape ecology affect populations of arthropod pests and natural enemies. Her current project examines how cropping history affects European corn borer populations in processing snap beans, sweet corn, and field corn. This involves determining the effects of Bt in the landscape, as well as the differences in behavior and population density caused by organic and conventional soil management.  She is also investigating improved integrated pest management of European corn borer through adoption of reduced risk insecticides.

Rebecca earned her Ph.D. at Washington State University. Her dissertation focused on integrated mite management in apple using phytoseiid mites as biological control agents. This included bioassays of pesticides to determine nontarget effects, inundative releases of phytoseiids, biological diversity surveys, phenology monitoring, and ecological comparisons of the two most commonly found phytoseiid species. Using data gathered from the diversity surveys and through interviews of field managers, she statistically modelled how management practices affected populations of predatory mites in apple orchards. While the western predatory mite was thought to be the sole phytoseiid of importance in central Washington apple orchards, Rebecca discovered that another species was also significantly abundant. The model indicated that western predatory mite thrived in areas with high agricultural disturbance, while the second species was able to outcompete western predatory mite in orchards that were less intensively managed. Based on this information, growers were encouraged to avoid the use of pesticides that disturb their predatory mite complex.

In her free time, Rebecca enjoys hiking, reading, and playing a variety of board games (and of course, collecting insects). She has also spent time turning her trap bycatch into insect jewelry. She is highly involved in the Entomological Society of America and is currently serving on the Student Transition and Early Professional Committee and the ICE Student Affairs Committee.

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