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Studying insects to help people: Adaptation expert Laura Lavine leads WSU Entomology as new chair

Posted by struscott | July 3, 2018
Prof. Laura Lavine is the new chair of the WSU Department of Entomology.

Leading research and teaching that helps people thrive in a world of insects, Professor Laura Lavine is the new chair of the Department of Entomology at Washington State University.

Assuming her new role July 1, she succeeds prior chair Walter “Steve” Sheppard, who is stepping down in mid-August.

At WSU, Lavine researches how insects adapt and evolve, increasing our understanding of how these amazing creatures develop, respond to their environment, resist pesticides, affect our crops and co-exist with humans, ultimately helping protect global food security.

“At WSU, we’re finding better ways to understand arthropod biology from discovery to applied research and extension while training the next generation of scientists,” said Lavine. “I am excited to lead the Department as we solve challenges that affect everyone—from stopping insect pests to protecting our vital pollinators from collapse.

“In partnership with Northwest’s vital agricultural commissions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and residents and farmers across Washington, our researchers, staff and graduate students are doing revolutionary work in integrated pest management—in other words, beneficial bugs,” Lavine added. “We’re reducing pesticide use to the smartest, safest approaches, and providing quality education in life sciences to students from all walks of life. It’s a great moment to be a WSU entomologist.”

Over her 17-year career at WSU, Lavine has won awards for innovative teaching strategies, led an internationally recognized research program, and shown a commitment to all areas of the land-grant mission. In 2016, she was recognized with the WSU Samuel H Smith Leadership Award for demonstrated leadership in higher education and advancing the role of women.

“Laura is inclusive, collaborative, and strategic,” commented former CAHNRS Dean Ron Mittelhammer following Lavine’s selection. “Her substantial leadership skills and notable, sustained commitment to diversity and serving the university, the college, and the Entomology profession make her a clear choice to lead the department.”

Lavine earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Lander University in 1992, master’s in Zoology from Clemson University in 1995, and a doctorate in Entomology from the University of Kentucky in 1999.

She currently serves as the Associate Director of the WSU CAHNRS Office of Research, in addition to her role as full professor in the Department of Entomology.

Learn more about the WSU Entomology at the Department’s website.