GAINESVILLE, Fla. – An internationally renowned insect scientist with expertise in safe and sustainable pest management has been appointed to lead the UF/IFAS Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Blair Siegfried, a professor of entomology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will start at UF/IFAS on Sept. 1. He said his interest in the UF/IFAS position is based on an interest in pursuing new challenges and opportunities.
“I am extremely excited by the opportunity to work with an outstanding group of scientists and personnel from the entomology and nematology department and to build relationships with other units from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and broader campus,” Siegfried said.
Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources, said Siegfried provides the background necessary to lead the UF/IFAS entomology program to new heights.
“People in Florida and, indeed around the world, need pest-control solutions as they impact homeowners and all aspects of agriculture and the environment,” Payne said. “Dr. Siegfried is well-positioned to steer UF/IFAS educational, research and Extension programs to help solve global entomological issues.”
Siegfried takes over for John Capinera, who served as chairman for nearly 28 years and will retire Feb. 28. Entomology Professor Heather McAuslane will serve as interim chair of the department until Siegfried arrives.
As department chair, Siegfried will take responsibility for 30 faculty and 30 staff members in Gainesville plus 40 faculty and staff members at research and education centers around the state.
Siegfried shows a great appreciation for UF/IFAS’ statewide reach.
“My hope is to visit all the centers as soon as possible to learn as much as I can about their programs and to visit with individual faculty,” he said. “I believe there will be opportunities to leverage their facilities to build interdisciplinary research, education and extension programs that integrate both on-campus and off-campus resources to address issues of global significance such as vector-borne diseases, invasive species, biodiversity and agricultural sustainability.”
In his application letter to the UF/IFAS search committee, Siegfried mentioned mentoring several times, and not just with his students, who have gone on to careers in medicine, pharmacy, environmental consulting and much more.
“I would be particularly interested in developing mentoring programs for pre-tenure faculty,” he wrote. “Of my experiences at UNL, I take the most pride in the accomplishments of those that have worked with me.”
Siegfried also stressed the need to expand interdisciplinary research and public/private partnerships for continued success at UF/IFAS. He cited the ability to build such partnerships as strengths that he developed at Nebraska.
Siegfried joined the University of Nebraska as an assistant professor in 1990 and worked his way up to full professor in 1999. In 2008, he was named the Charles Bessey Professor for distinguished scholarship and creative activity. He has published more than 145 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
Siegfried earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, his master’s from UF/IFAS and his doctorate from Penn State – both in entomology.
Coming to Gainesville marks a bit of a homecoming for Siegfried and his wife. She was born and raised here, most her family still lives here and Siegfried earned his graduate degree here.
“We have visited Gainesville many times and look forward to reuniting with friends and family,” he said. “Nebraska has been a great place to live and work for the last 25 years, and we will miss our close friends and colleagues but will not miss the harsh winters or the long drives to the beach.”
By Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Blair Siegfried, 402-472-2123, email@example.com
Jack Payne, 352-392-1971, firstname.lastname@example.org