[University Update] Texas A&M Entomology looks to the future with new facility

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The Rollins Urban and Structural Entomology Facility is scheduled for completion in 2014.

November 22, 2013
Brad Harbison

College Station, Texas — Texas A&M recently broke ground on the new Rollins Urban and Structural Entomology Facility at College Station, representing an important accomplishment for the university’s entomology program. The new 10,000-square-foot building, estimated at a cost of $4 million and scheduled to be completed in 2014, also will serve as a vital resource for the structural pest control industry, according to Dr. Roger Gold, Endowed Chair for Urban and Structural Entomology, Texas A&M University.

“As with all industries, the key to survival and growth depends on accurate, unbiased and timely information,” Gold said. “Our goal has always been to develop new technologies for the management of pest populations associated with humans and their companion animals. Some of the effective concepts have come from our faculty and staff, and others were brought to us for testing by our industry partners.”

The building is projected to have three wings all contained within the space. It will have a research wing with four research laboratories, with each separated from the other in terms of air handling, separate plumbing and electrical services to avoid possible issues with cross contamination. Planned features include:

  • An insectary where insects will be in culture for use in bioassays and behavioral lab work.
  • A pesticide analytical laboratory that provides the department with space and equipment to continue its pesticide durability and longevity work.
  • A genetic and molecular sciences laboratory for moving forward the department’s new DNA analysis capabilities that it started several years ago.
  • A conference room and a training room in the middle section of the building, which can be divided or expanded depending on the specific programs. Gold said the plan is to move the Philip J. Hamman Termite Control Training School from the Riverside campus to the grounds of the new building, which will provide quality room for technical training using computers and microscope connectivity.
  • Administrative staff, faculty and researchers’ offices, and shared space for graduate students and student workers will be located in the third wing.

The principal pest groups to be studied include: ants, bed bugs, cockroaches, stored product pests, termites and wood destroying beetles. Gold anticipates additional and expanded work in sustainable pest management technologies, and biological control using parasites, predators and pathogens. “The most important concept of the building is that it will allow Texas A&M to continue the programs in urban entomology and move the research, extension and teaching programs into the future,” Gold said. “I consider my most important accomplishment the training and graduation of over 45 Master and Ph.D. students, many of whom either have, or do, work in some aspect of the professional pest management industry.”

Gold said the planning of the facility was initiated in 2005, beginning with a needs-assessment for development of laboratories and office space, and has now been expanded to include a stand-alone building.

Of course, the most significant undertaking for a university construction project is fundraising and Texas A&M’s relationship with Rollins (parent company of Orkin) has helped make the dream a reality. Throughout the years, Texas A&M has trained thousands of Orkin technicians and has worked cooperatively with the Atlanta-based company on research projects. Gold approached Gary and Randall Rollins about the project, and within a few weeks they informed Gold that the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation would be making a $2 million gift, providing the springboard needed for getting the project underway. Other donors followed, providing the department with enough commitments for $4 million, enough to begin construction.

Gold added that fundraising is ongoing and that Texas A&M Urban Entomology will need additional contributions in order for the department to carry out its mission. For more information about the building, contact Dr. Gold at r-gold@tamu.edu.


The author is PCT’s managing editor. Email him at bharbison@giemedia.com.