In mid-April, Tolulope Morawo began a new position as an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) in Fort Pierce. He joins UF’s statewide effort to protect crops and natural environments with integrated pest management (IPM) strategy.
In 2017, Morawo completed his doctorate degree in entomology at Auburn University, where chemical ecology of parasitic wasps was the focus of his thesis. He earned a master’s degree in entomology at Auburn University and a bachelor’s degree in biology at the Federal University of Technology in Nigeria.
Morawo received several awards, including the Friends of Southern IPM Award in 2017. He comes to UF/IFAS from Auburn University, where he was a postdoctoral fellow.
Aspects of Morawo’s research will focus on the management of citrus pests such as the Asian citrus psyllid and Lebbeck mealybug. Both insects are invasive and impact the state’s citrus industry. The psyllid carries a pathogen to citrus trees that causes citrus greening, a devastating tree crop disease. Morawo joins a team of four scientists at IRREC who are working on the pathogen, its transmission and the impacts the disease has on trees.
Morawo will focus on the interactions among trees, psyllids and their natural enemies such as parasitoids, predators and fungi. Other research projects will involve biological control of new invasive pests, development of new pest detection tools and statewide monitoring for invasive insects.
“The recovery of the citrus industry from citrus greening or any other tree stressors will be a multidisciplinary collaborative effort,” Morawo said. “The good news is those efforts are already ongoing and yielding results.”
“Dr. Morawo’s contribution to Florida’s food producers and caretakers of native flora is valuable because he brings the most current research techniques and perspectives to our IFAS team of biological control research scientists,” said Ronald Cave, director of IRREC. Morawo succeeds Cave as entomologist and research scientist at UF’s Norman C. Hayslip Biological Control Research and Containment Laboratory.
Cave said Morawo will lead invasive insect research at the Hayslip laboratory and will introduce the latest IPM research techniques, including chemical ecology.