Editor’s note: Fhallon Ware-Gilmore, a doctoral candidate in medical entomology at Pennsylvania State University, attended NPMA PestWorld 2021 in Las Vegas thanks to a sponsorship she received from Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) Diversity Council, BASF and Target specialty products. Ware-Gilmore shares her experience in the following editorial.
My name is Fhallon Ware-Gilmore and I'm a doctoral candidate in medical entomology at the Pennsylvania State University, where I work in the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD) exploring the role of global climate change, and its impact on the assemblage of infectious diseases, in particular, those transmitted by arthropod vectors such as ticks and mosquitoes. My research focuses on how temperature can influence the transmission of dengue virus (DENV) in the mosquito, Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito).
In early November, I had the opportunity to explore the world of pest management by attending the PestWorld conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. This opportunity would not have been possible without the sponsorship I received from Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) Diversity Council, BASF and Target specialty products. Upon stepping foot in the exhibition hall with Joel Nolasco (NuBorn Pest Control) and Hamilton Allen (Home Team Pest Defense) I knew my experience at this conference would be unlike any I have been to throughout my academic career.
During my time at PestWorld, I had the opportunity to interact with a breadth of global experts, ranging from individuals in sales to field technicians, technical reps and scientists directly involved in research and development. The highlight of my time at this conference was being able to go up to each vendor, or pest control head to discuss their products and programs. Being able to see the applied and integrated side of urban and medical entomology was amazing. My research is strongly molecular and not completely applied so being able to see how the science conducted in various research institutes is being utilized, in the field, was a noteworthy experience for me.
NPMA gathers thousands of pest management professionals and industry suppliers from across the globe-offering extensive opportunities for networking and collaboration. The common goal is in protecting people against pest-related threats. I could clearly tell that this industry was passionate about helping people lead a better life. The people within the pest management industry come from all walks of life and are quite diverse. I found it to be an extremely hardworking and dedicated group which invited me in with open arms. At PestWorld, I felt like I was part of a community, and it was lovely speaking with individuals from different regions and differing perspectives but who all had the same common goal and energy.
Upon completion of my PhD, my hope is to work with community members and various other agencies in pest control research and development with the overall aim of providing leadership, information, and education leading to the enhancement of public health and quality of life by defending individuals against the hazards that pests can bring.
As an early-stage researcher in public health entomology, this conference has enlightened me to new innovations and has also further inspired my career in vector-borne disease control and management. Having attended this meeting, I am eager to immerse myself further into this industry and look forward to serving my community and those alike in the ongoing arms race against unwanted pests.