Scientists & Staff

Current Research

My primary research and development efforts are focused on development, improvement, and production of baculoviruses that can be used to control invasive forest inset pests. In addition, I am leading an effort to restore the American elm to forested landscapes. Current efforts include:

  • Development of improved strains of the Lymantria dispar nucleopolyhedrovirus (LdMNPV)
  • Studies to understand a host's initial defenses to viral infection
  • Development of cell culture bioreactor production methods for LdMNPV
  • Generation of clonal L. dispar cell line that produce high levels of LdMNPV polyhedra
  • Determine if the browntail moth baculovirus, Euproctis chrysorrhoea, can be used in browntail moth infested areas to control this pest
  • Restoration of the American elm in forested landscapes

Research Interests

Future work will include efforts to identify microbial pathogens that infect the emerald ash borer and to develop methods of using the microbial agents to address the emerald ash borer problem.

Why This Research is Important

Invasive insects, plants, and microbes have had and continue to have a significant deleterious impact on U.S. forests. It?s estimated that approximately 50,000 species of plants, microbes and animals have been introduced into the U.S. Most of the invertebrate animal (e.g., gypsy moth, zebra mussel) and microbe (e.g., Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, Nectria coccinea) introductions were accidental, whereas vertebrate animal (e.g., cattle, poultry) and plant introductions (e.g., corn, wheat) were mostly intentional. The economic impact of 79 nonindigenous species over the period from 1906-1991 was estimated by the Office of Technology Assessment to be $97 billion in damages. More recently, it?s estimated that economic damages caused by nonindigenous species and costs for control and management of these species exceed $137 billion per year. Native forest insect pests and diseases also cause losses of approximately 18% of forest products (e.g., lumber, pulp) valued at approximately $9.8 billion annually. Due to the negative impact of invasive insects and diseases on the nation?s forests and urban trees efforts are needed to develop means of ameliorating the negative impacts of invasives.

Professional Organizations

  • American Association for Virology (1990 - Present)
  • Society for Invertebrate Pathology (SIP) (1992 - Present)

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

American elm cuttings growing in the greenhouse. Kathleen Knight, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Elm Disease Resistance Research Gets a Boost

Year: 2016

Great news for disease-tolerant American elm! A grant from The Manton Foundation has provided the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station with an opportunity to accelerate American elm research in collaboration with Nature Conservancy.

Expansion of the American Elm Restoration Project in New England in Collaboration With The Nature Conservancy

Year: 2010

The American elm in hardwood forests and riparian ecosystems has been greatly reduced or eliminated by Dutch elm disease (DED) and has not been replaced as the dominant overstory hardwood tree. NRS scientist James Slavicek, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), has recently established (June 2010) three sites for American elm restoration on TNC lands.

Last modified: Sunday, August 19, 2018