Wyoming Grasshopper Researcher Wins $32,000

Discovery of environmentally-friendly control spurs prize.

Published on: Jun 13, 2013

University of Wyoming entomology doctoral student Doug Smith though he could find a less environmentally-damaging way to control grasshoppers that attack producer crops.

His new technique, also labeled to be more efficient, has won him a $32,000 fellowship recognizing his success. The Lloyd/Kumar Graduate Fellowship in Entomology, launched in 2007, honors long-time UWs entomologists Jack Lloyd and Rabinder Kumar, and is awarded to support a grad student's education. It also helps train future entomologists.

Smith's research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources included intensive field collections and processing of material in the lab. He published the results of his grasshopper work in the "International Journal of Pest Management."

Doug Smith, center, receives the Lloyd/Kumar prize from John Tanaka, right, and Alex Latchininsky at the University of Wyoming.
Doug Smith, center, receives the Lloyd/Kumar prize from John Tanaka, right, and Alex Latchininsky at the University of Wyoming.

Alex Latchininsky, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management assistant professor, notes that "when Douglas approached me with an inquiry about a possibility of a Ph.D study, I did not hesitate to provide him support."

What he developed was a  new, economical, efficient and environmentally less hazardous strategy of controlling grasshoppers on rangeland, Latchininsky explains

Smith also received the International Integrated Pest Management Award of Excellence at the 7th International IPM Symposium last year for the work.

"Not many grad students are recognized for their research with such a prestigious award of international scope," observes Latchininsky.

Smith is only the second winner of the Lloyd/Kumar award, says John Tanaka, head of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. The first was given in 2010.

UW entomology faculty members recommend the recipient, with Tanaka  having final say in who will win the prize.

Smith, who has taught lab classes and assisted in teaching courses, was part of a team led by Latchininsky.

Grasshoppers can reach infestation levels in some years, literally rendering pastures unfit for use. Chemicals  used to control the pests have long come under fire for their impact on the environment. The work of Smith promises a fresh new tool for producers.