Nematode, Urban Landscape Expert Wins 2009 OARDC Senior Faculty Research Award; Work 'Spans from Genes to Ecosystems'

April 23, 2009

WOOSTER, Ohio — The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) today (April 23) honored Parwinder Grewal, a professor in Ohio State University’s Department of Entomology, with its 2009 Distinguished Senior Faculty Research Award.

 

Grewal is an internationally known expert in the study of entomopathogenic, or insect-parasitic, nematodes and is widely recognized in the emerging field of ecologically based urban landscape management.

“His research spans levels of biological organization from genes to ecosystems,” said OARDC Director Steve Slack.

Grewal’s research on stress tolerance in beneficial nematodes has contributed to a basic understanding of their ecology and evolution and might lead to their future use as environmentally sound biological insecticides. (The nematodes kill plant-feeding insects.) The work has led to a patent; Grewal is partnering with the private sector to commercialize the breakthrough.

He leads an international project to sequence the genome of beneficial nematodes, and his lab to date has sequenced more than 30,000 nematode genes.

He is likewise pioneering research on ecological interactions on lawns, helping to transform the lawn-care industry from a paradigm based on intensive chemical inputs to one rooted in ecological principles, including organic practices.

He founded and directs the Urban Landscape Ecology Program (ULEP), a new multidisciplinary, degree-granting program at Ohio State that includes 40 faculty members from five colleges. Through it he developed a new course, “Ecological Landscape Design,” in collaboration with a weed ecologist and an architecture faculty member, both from Ohio State.

Grewal also leads the Center for Urban Environment and Economic Development, which works to develop technology that can be commercialized and transferred to Ohio’s private sector.

He has attracted $11.6 million in funding, of which $4.7 million was obtained as principal investigator; has co-edited a book on nematodes as biocontrol agents; has written 18 book chapters, 135 peer-reviewed research papers (including the most-cited paper in his field) and 11 review articles; and has trained 21 graduate students, 18 post-doctoral researchers and nine visiting scientists.

Highly committed to science education, Grewal last year started the OARDC Research Internship Program for area high school and undergraduate students.

He was elected president of the Society of Nematologists in 2008; received the Entomological Society of America’s Recognition Award in Urban Entomology (2008) and in Integrated Pest Management (2003); and was the Syngenta Crop Protection Award winner in 2002.

The Senior Faculty Research Award — a plaque, $1,000 to Grewal, and $3,000 to the operating account of his research program — recognizes outstanding achievements by an OARDC faculty member at the rank of professor.

The announcement was made in a ceremony at OARDC’s 2009 Annual Research Conference in Columbus.

OARDC (http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/) is the research arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and is the largest university agbioscience research center in the nation.

Author(s): 
Kurt Knebusch
Source(s): 
Steve Slack