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News and Updates

News and Updates

News and Updates

Locust research takes guts

May 28, 2019

Locusts in a containment unitThis week the Global Locust Initiative facilitated a collaboration three years in the making. Dr. Britt Peterson, assistant professor of Biological Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), visited the Cease lab at Arizona State University to jump start a project on gut microbiota of two Schistocerca species.

Peterson’s research focuses on insect-microbe associations and how these gut microbial communities impact host biology. With access to live hoppers at ASU, Peterson worked to culture normal flora and potential pathogens out of freshly dissected gut tissue.

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PhD Opportunity: Locust ecology and management research at Cirad in Montpellier, France

May 3, 2019

grasshopperWe're happy to present an opportunity to study locust phase polyphenism evolution through demogenetic agent-based simulations.

Cirad is seeking a graduate student with a Master of Science (or equivalent) on evolutionary ecology and modelling. Candidates with good computer science skills (particularly on C++, R, Netlogo or other object-oriented language) will be given priority. Applications (CV + motivation letter, in PDF format) are to be sent to Cyril Piou (cyril.piou@cirad.fr) (with topic «PEPPER PhD») before June 10th, 2019.

More detailed information can be found on the Cirad locust team's website.

Meet Alana Burnham, GLI's new Community Outreach Specialist

April 23, 2019

Alana Burnham with host sisterThe Global Locust Initiative recently made a new addition to its team: Alana Burnham, the program’s Community Outreach Specialist. In this position, she is responsible for many logistical and programmatic aspects of GLI’s new pilot project in the Kaffrine region of Senegal, funded by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. This project will test whether soil amendments to millet fields in Kaffrine, Senegal, decrease locust outbreaks, improve millet yields and increase farmer livelihoods. Burnham will spend part of her time on the ground in Senegal, recruiting project participants, sourcing and managing materials, organizing trainings, and networking with beneficiaries and stakeholders.

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Global Locust Initiative's post review of the 13th International Congress of Orthopterology

April 8, 2019

Arianne Cease and another in Agadir Morocco for the International Congress of the Orthopterists SocietyIt was fantastic to participate in the recent 13th International Congress of the Orthopterists´ Society in Agadir, Morocco — the first to be held on the African continent. Around 250 members from around the world engaged in presentations and workshops surrounding the themes of integrated pest management, forecasting and monitoring, regional integration and collaboration, conservation, ecology, neurobiology and physiology, genomics, and taxonomy. Thank you to Professor Idrissi and the rest of the ICO organizers for their tremendous hard work to make ICO 2019 a major success!

We also had a great turnout and fruitful conversations at our GLI-hosted data management workshop at the conference. As part of the workshop, we asked our invited expert panel* what the most pressing challenges with regards to data management were, and what they saw as critical future directions to be implemented. Following this, GLI members commented and asked additional questions to the panel.

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Job opportunity: FAO Team Leader of locusts and transboundary plant pests and diseases

March 15, 2019

locust swarm against blue skyRare opportunity to lead the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations' efforts in this important area. FAO is encouraging individuals to apply who have experience with IPM, transboundary pests (not just locusts!), strategic thinking and team management. The application deadline has been extended to March 31st.

Please see the job posting for Senior Agricultural Officer (Team Leader) P-5.

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Postdoctoral researcher Marion Le Gall reviews summer 2018 fieldwork

March 14, 2019

Marion Le Gall and men posing for pictureThis post was written by Marion Le Gall, a postdoctoral researcher in Arizona State University's Cease Lab.

Last summer, with Master of Science in sustainability student Mira Word having brilliantly defended her thesis and Arianne Cease in writing jail, I (Marion Le Gall) found myself the sole member of the Arizona State University Senegal field team. With that in mind, I decided that the reasonable thing to do was to craft not one, but two field seasons for myself.

At the end of July, I thus packed the material wood hutsI needed and took the long flight to Senegal. What didn’t take long was being reacquainted with the local rhythm. By that I mean that five hours before landing I still didn’t know where and who my Airbnb host was… Not to worry, in a country that prizes itself for its sense of hospitality, the famous Senegalese “teranga,” everything always seems to work out.

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Annual review of entomology update

February 27, 2019

entomology figure 1

As we discussed in earlier news posts, preventive locust management has the potential to severely reduce the impact of locust outbreaks if resources and coordination can appropriately align (Figure 1). Nonetheless, to be successfully implemented, preventive strategies are still in need of some research and further refinement. Many of the Global Locust Initiative’s partner organizations are continuously working towards improving preventive management, including some participants of GLI’s First International Conference in April of 2018.

Several of these individuals—Long Zhang, Michel Lecoq, Alexandre Latchininsky, and David Hunter—recently published an article in Annual Reviews of Entomology, Locust and Grasshopper Management, highlighting advances in preventive management and opportunities for future research and improvement. The last comprehensive review of this kind was published in 1960.

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Meet Global Locust Initiative's new interns

February 12, 2019

Global Locust Initiative interns, Braedon Kantola (left) and Teddy Gonzalez (right)Please welcome our new Global Locust Initiative interns, Braedon Kantola (left) and Teddy Gonzalez (right), who began interning for GLI in January 2019. They cannot begin to describe how enthusiastic they are to be given the opportunity of joining the GLI team to help further the development of research, partnerships and solutions for transboundary pest management.

At Arizona State University, Braedon is currently in the 4+1 Accelerated Master’s Program pursuing his Master of Sustainability Solutions along with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability with a focus on ecosystems, and a certificate in energy and sustainability. Teddy is pursuing concurrent degrees in sustainability and philosophy. In the fall, she will start a Juris Doctor degree from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law's Law and Sustainability program.

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Sustainability scientist Arianne Cease wins New Innovator Award

December 17, 2018

Arianne Cease headshotThe Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced today that Arianne Cease, director of the Global Locust Initiative in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, is one of nine recipients of its 2018 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award.

The purpose of the award is to invest in budding scientists in the food and agriculture field. According to FFAR, “The award recipients were selected on a number of criteria including scientific merit, innovation and a demonstrated commitment to mentoring other young scientists.”

The nine scientists win a total of $2.3 million over three years, and Arizona State University will match the funds given to Cease as a stipulation of the grant. Cease’s work explores the connections between land-use practices and locust outbreaks, and identifies and addresses barriers to sustainable locust management. The Global Locust Initiative also recently won a major grant from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

“Locust plagues are a global challenge that requires a team effort to address, and I’m excited to see FFAR support our cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and transboundary approach,” Cease said. Cease is the only scientist from Arizona to win a New Innovator Award this year.

GLI at the Entomological Society of America Meeting, Vancouver 2018

November 29, 2018

It was great to see so many Global Locust Initiative members and friends at the November 2018 joint ESA, ESC and ESBC meeting in Vancouver. There were excellent talks highlighting research advancements including another successful Orthopteroid symposium, “Orthopteroids: Small Orders, Big Ideas,” organized by Derek Woller, Hojun Song and Bert Foquet. Building off of our April 2018 GLI launch at ASU, we met new members and continued discussions for novel collaborations and approaches spanning continents and disciplines.

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Global Locust Initiative wins USAID/OFDA grant to launch pilot project in Senegal

View Source | November 28, 2018

Arianne Cease wearing gloves working in a labLocusts have afflicted humanity throughout history, with devastating consequences. It’s no surprise that locusts are one of the 10 plagues in the biblical book Exodus. These insects are species of grasshoppers that can swarm in the millions and wipe out fields of crops in the blink of an eye.

The Global Locust Initiative, an Arizona State University program aiming to study and manage locust outbreaks, recently won a half-million-dollar grant from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (a part of the U.S. Agency for International Development). This is the first time an ASU program has been awarded an OFDA grant, according to research advancement manager Ann Marie Hess, whose dedication to this partnership and work as a research advancement manager, alongside program manager Ariel Rivers, was critical to landing the grant.

With this funding, the Global Locust Initiative team — directed by senior sustainability scientist Arianne Cease — will test whether soil amendments to millet fields in Kaffrine, Senegal, decrease locust outbreaks, improve millet yields and increase farmer livelihoods.

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Webinar discusses preventative locust management

November 8, 2018

locust swarm against blue skyOne of the differentiating characteristics between grasshoppers generally and locusts specifically is the potential for locusts to undergo what scientists call “phase change.” As part of the shift in behaviors associated with phase change, locusts can become gregarious — they group together and form massive swarms as they move across the landscape. It is no surprise then that locust scientists themselves are gregarious, in that effective management of locusts requires coordinated efforts from many different individuals, teams and organizations.

These coordinated efforts, which are essential to effective preventative locust management, are in part the theme of a recent webinar (in Spanish) presented by Cyril Piou of France’s Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD). Piou holds a PhD from Bremen University in Germany, and since 2010 he has worked as part of the Acridology Team at CIRAD, researching various themes in population dynamics, ecology, and modeling systems. Due to his experience in these areas, Piou frequently collaborates with other locust researchers, including partners through Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), who hosted the webinar.

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Recent Webinar: Learn more about the Central American Locust

October 4, 2018

Central American locust on handTo successfully realize our work at the Global Locust Initiative (GLI), we engage globally with collaborators living and working with locusts and grasshoppers locally in their communities. Among our list of fantastic partners, we can count Mario Poot Pech of the Yucatán State Committee of Plant Health (CESVY), based in Merida, Mexico. Mario holds a PhD from the Mexican Technological University in Conkal, Yucatán and is an internationally recognized expert on the Central American locust, Schistocerca piceifrons piceifrons Walker, a significant locust pest in parts of Mexico and neighboring countries.

Mario currently represents Mexico for the Regional Organization of Agricultural and Livestock Health (OIRSA), a partnership of 9 Central American countries and international agencies. As part of their regional mandate, OIRSA facilitates a variety of activities in support of better pest management across the agricultural system. In support of these activities, OIRSA regularly hosts trainings to share information about various pests and their management. Recently, Mario participated in an educational OIRSA webinar about the Central American locust (starting at approximately 14:30).

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GLI Student Experiences: Balanding Manneh

September 20, 2018

Within all three of the Global Locust Initiative's pillars of facilitating fundamental and applied research, creating and maintaining a global network of locust practitioners, and developing local solutions to the global challenge of locust plagues, we strive to enable student success. After working in the Cease Lab and with GLI during his time as a Master Card Fellow at ASU, one of our fantastic students, Balanding Manneh, graduated with his bachelor in biology in spring 2018.

Throughout his time in the Cease Lab, Balanding offered integral support in lab and research activities, even helping with fieldwork in Senegal in 2015 and 2016. He is now pursuing a Master of Public Health at the University of British Columbia. He sent us the following update to summarize his time with the Cease Lab.

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Notes from the Field: Deanna Zembrzuski in the Western US

August 20, 2018

ASU student wearing sweater with a few locusts on her arm
Deanna Zembrzuski in the field. Photo © Lonnie Black, USDA-APHIS, 2018
At the Global Locust Initiative (GLI) at Arizona State University, we are fortunate to work with many fantastic partners globally, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). In Phoenix, APHIS houses a Center for Plant Health Science and Technology laboratory, with a section specifically focused on rangeland grasshoppers and Mormon crickets. The dedicated scientists on this team, led by Larry Jech and Derek Woller, spend long hours in the field during the summer to further identify management practices that ranchers and others may use to protect their fields from orthopteran pests.

ASU School of Life Sciences doctoral student and GLI member, Deanna Zembrzuski, spent the summer with the APHIS team. Following is a summary that Zembrzuski wrote about her experience:

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News from the Field: Douglas Lawton in Australia!

June 30, 2018

ASU student stands in the middle of Australian desertDouglas Lawton, Global Locust Initiative member and Arizona State University doctoral student, is spending the summer in Australia. Douglas studies landscape variables that affect the behavior of Australian plague locusts, and is co-advised by Arianne Cease, GLI Founding Director and ASU Assistant Professor, and Cathy Waters, a Rangelands Research Officer at the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

Lawton sent us the following update, along with preliminary maps he developed this summer:

"The Australian plague locust (Chortoicetes terminifera) is the most important Orthopteran pest in Australia. However, our knowledge on the types of habitat and corresponding environmental variables that lead to their swarms remains limited. Using a 30-year data set of Australian plague locust abundances throughout eastern Australia, I am building a heat map of favorable Australian plague locust habitats.

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Locust initiative launches

View Source | April 13, 2018

Global Locust Initiative RepresentativesRepresentatives from 12 countries gathered at Arizona State University in April for the inaugural meeting of the Global Locust Initiative, a new research and action program designed to help scientists, governments, agribusiness workers and farmers cope with locust plagues.

The initiative, a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, combines lab science, fieldwork and data modeling to help reduce locust outbreaks and the effects of plagues, with the goal to improve the well-being of farm communities and global sustainability.

The initiative is led by Senior Sustainability Scientist Arianne Cease, who describes her work in a six-minute KED Talk video, produced by ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Pest management in coupled human-natural systems in developing countries

January 3, 2018

We invite applications for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with training in resource economics, quantitative human geography, land systems science, or similar. The Fellow will develop an innovative research program in an interdisciplinary project examining the prevention and management of migratory locust outbreaks in Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

The successful candidate will work with Dr. Brian Robinson at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, with additional mentorship possible from Dr. Eli Fenichel (resource econ, Yale University) and Dr. Joleen Hadrich (ag econ, University of Minnesota), or Dr. Arianne Cease (entomology, Arizona State University). Potential research foci include topics such as farm-level pest management decisions, the distributional impacts of locusts on vulnerable communities, spatial (remote sensing Landsat, MODIS, LIDAR, drone) analysis of locust impacts, institutional coordination of effective and efficient management of migratory locusts, the bioeconomics of pest management, among others.

The Fellow will also provide social science expertise in an interdisciplinary team that includes entomologists, nutritional ecologists, and geographers.

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PhD positions in interdisciplinary locust research and management at Arizona State University

October 12, 2017

The Cease Lab at Arizona State University is looking for passionate people to join our dynamic, international, and interdisciplinary team. The primary focus of our research is to connect lab and field studies to understand mechanisms of ecological and organismal function across multiple levels. We work integratively with collaborators to study locusts in social-ecological systems and find regional solutions for the global challenge of locust plagues. These collaborators include natural scientists, social scientists, government agencies, community organizations, and farmers from North America and our field sites in Senegal, Australia, China, Argentina, and Bolivia.

We are accepting applications for 2-3 PhD students who will focus on the South American Locust, Schistocerca cancellata and/or sustainable transboundary pest management in South America.

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Study an unprecedented upsurge of Schistocerca cancellata across this species’ native range in Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay
  • Network with locust and grasshopper researchers through the Global Locust Initiative
  • Use their Spanish-speaking skills to engage stakeholders to find on-the-ground solutions to locust outbreaks (fluency in Spanish is desired for anyone interested in field work and/or work with stakeholders, but is not required)
  • Collaborate in a diverse team of researchers at ASU and in South America

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