2022 Scholarship Recipient
Joshua Reger, is a Ph.D. student in the Entomology Department at UC Riverside. After completing his B.S. in Agricultural Education at Purdue University, he joined the United States Peace Corps as an agricultural specialist stationed in The Gambia. Returning to the US, he got exposure to California agriculture at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in a citrus entomology lab. Later he completed a M.S. in Plant Science focused on sterile insect technique at California State University Fresno.
Joshua’s research at UC Riverside explores the factors that drive migration and the landscape ecology of navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella), a key lepidopteran pest of California tree nuts. In almonds, pistachios and walnuts navel orangeworm larvae feed directly on kernels reducing yield. Additionally, navel orangeworm is a carrier of Aspergillus spp., fungi which produce aflatoxins. These carcinogens are heavily regulated due to human health impacts. Novel tools like sterile insect technique can reduce pests populations and lower the use of insecticides harmful to natural enemies. However, this technique requires an extensive understanding of the pest’s behavior and ecology.
Navel orangeworm is a highly mobile and polyphagous pest capable of migrating between tree nuts and other crops. At the time of harvest, mass removal of host plant material may be a factor driving moth movement between crops. Many integrated pest management strategies employed by growers are on an individual basis, but better understanding moth migration and natural enemy impacts could provide key insights to support an area wide IPM approach. Joshua’s research is using metabolomics to trace wild caught navel orangeworm adults to larval host crops and working with growers to document moth migration in the field.
Funding provided by the Harry Scott Smith Scholarship will help support Joshua’s research in the sustainable management of navel orangeworm in California and allow him to disseminate his research findings at professional conferences, such as the Entomological Society of America.
Joshua's scholarship is made possible in part by these 2021 and 2022 donations
A special thanks to Anonymous, Robert and Carol Hardison, Mrs. Susan and Mr. Dondald Dearorff, Mr. Gary and Mrs. Kathy Veeh, Retha Keenan (in memory of Ray Keenan), Mrs. Pamela and Mr. John Pavela, Dr. Betsy Boyd and Dr. Justin Nay, Tognazzini Avocado Partnership, Mr. Devon and Mrs. Claire Carroll and Mr. and Mrs. Cooley.