Deena Husein, 2020 Scholarship Recipient

Deena Husein

2020 Scholarship Recipient

Deena Husein is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Entomology Department at the University of California, Riverside. Deena’s first interaction with agricultural pests started in her junior year of high school by participating in the Young Scholars Program- a summer internship funded by the University of Georgia for high school students interested in agroscience. Her project involved collecting glassy-winged sharpshooters and determining the distribution of the plant pathogen they vector, Xylella fastidiosa, in Georgia. In 2013, Deena graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.S.A. in Biological Science and a B.S.E.S. in Entomology. She later applied for an internship abroad at Kyushu University in Japan to study the effects high levels of CO2 had on the development and fecundity of the adzuki bean beetle.

Deena’s research at UCR focuses on finding natural enemies of the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle, Euwallacea fornicatus, (PSHB). The PSHB is an invasive pest that can easily attack over 400 different plant species including, but not limited to, California sycamore, maple, castor bean, and avocado trees. Research shows that allowing this beetle to roam free will accrue a substantial amount of money (over $15.9 billion) to remove and replace infested and susceptible trees.

Conventional methods of control, such as topical and systemic insecticides along with mating disruption, are ineffective due to the cryptic lifestyle of the beetle, which deemed finding natural enemies of the pest to be a high priority. The end goal is to determine, rear, and release successful biological control agents in the hopes of reducing the PSHB population in southern California.

The Harry S. Smith award will enable Deena to collect more colonized logs from the native region of the PSHB. This will provide additional resources to help identify potential biological control agents and assess their likelihood of implementing them in a successful program by conducting host specificity assays. This award will also provide the opportunity for Deena to travel to Taiwan and attend the Bark and Ambrosia Beetle Academy where she will learn from experts in her field on how to properly identify scolytine beetles, better understand their ecology, and determine the best route to control them.


Deena's scholarship is made possible in part by these 2020 donations

A special thanks to Stuart Swanson, Susan Deardorff, Claudia Giardina, John and Janet Kabashima, John Orr and Pamela Marrone.

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