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Ed Vargo to Become Next Endowed Chair in Urban and Structural Entomology at Texas A&M

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North Carolina State University's Vargo will become the next endowed chair in Urban and Structural Entomology at Texas A&M University, replacing Dr. Roger Gold, who will be retiring in January 2015.

Brad Harbison | May 9, 2014


COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Dr. Ed Vargo, professor and interim department head of the Entomology Department at North Carolina State University, will become the next endowed chair in Urban and Structural Entomology at Texas A&M, officially starting on Dec. 1, 2014. Vargo will be replacing Dr. Roger Gold, who will be retiring in January 2015, after having held the endowed chair position at Texas A&M since it was established in 1989.

 

Texas A&M is in the process of constructing a new $4 million building to house the Center for Urban and Structural Entomology. Vargo will be commuting back and forth to College Station, Texas this summer and fall to work with Gold as the building continues to be erected, Dr. David Ragsdale, head of Texas A&M’s Department of Entomology, noted in an e-mail.

“Ed’s research is cutting edge. His training of students is exemplary, and his grantsmanship has been stellar,” Ragsdale said. “He’s also shown the ability to teach multiple courses and really engage with students. All of those have to be done at an exceptionally high level at an endowed chairmanship position.”

Vargo told PCT he is excited about the opportunity at Texas A&M, which he considers the “crown jewel” of urban entomology programs. “The program that Roger Gold has built up is fantastic – both in terms of the reputation of the program and the strength of the program,” he said. “With the history of the program, the resources associated with the endowment, and the new facility, it provides an opportunity to have an impact on urban entomology you can’t have anywhere else. I’m also looking forward to training students who will go on to become leaders in the field of urban entomology."

Vargo has been at N.C. State since 1998 and, according to his website, his research “uses molecular ecological approaches to address basic and applied questions concerning population biology and breeding systems in urban insect pests. We use primarily microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA markers to study several important structural pests, including subterranean and drywood termites, ants, cockroaches and bed bugs.”

This work with molecular biology is something Vargo wants to continue at Texas A&M. “Looking at pest control as a field across all different commodities, there is great potential [for this work]. Agricultural pest control, for example, is placing a greater emphasis on molecular biology and other technologies that have been slower to be adopted in the urban field. I think this is an opportunity to move the whole field more in that direction.”

As part of Gold’s appointment his responsibilities were divided among teaching, research and extension services. Vargo will have teaching and research responsibilities, but Texas A&M is in the process of adding an extension entomologist. “Having a person there to be more accessible, to travel around, and to be involved in applied research I think can really going to expand the impact of the program,” Vargo added.
 

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