The main focus of my research, teaching and service/outreach is the use of biological control to suppress rangeland weeds. Biological control is the use of living organisms to suppress weed (or pest) populations. For many non-indigenous, invasive weed species, the main approach in biological control is to re-unite the weed with the specialized insect herbivores from the plant's native range. After careful screening, these insects are introduced to North America with the goal of reducing weed infestations through insect feeding. Another important goal in weed biological control is to avoid impacting other, so-called "non-target" species that might be attacked by the biological control agent, particularly plant species that are related to the target weed. I also am interested in the biological control of insect pests, specifically biological control using "parasitoids", small wasps (and flies) that develop on and kill other insects. Parasitoids may also be introduced from a pest's native range, reared en masse and released for pest control, or "conserved" through agricultural practices.
My service and outreach involves education and implementation of biological control of weeds in Wyoming. Two main implementation projects I am involved in are biological control of Salt cedar and Dalmatian toadflax. I have also been working toward gaining permission from the USDA for introduction of two new biological control agents for Russian knapweed. Educational outreach includes a number of articles, a handbook and a pamphlet: Weed Biological Control in Wyoming.