'Feeding the Future' is free public lecture on Feb. 18

February 07, 2012

A free public lecture titled "Feeding the Future: From the Lab Bench to the Dinner Table" will take place at 11 a.m. on Feb 18, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The speaker will be Bruce McPheron, professor of entomology and dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State. The event is the fifth of six lectures in the 2012 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a free minicourse for the general public with the theme "Food: Strategies for Growing Enough for Everyone." No registration is required. The lectures take place on consecutive Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. in 100 Thomas Building.

In his lecture, McPheron will discuss which creative research experiments today might most quickly boost food production on our stressed planet. He will explain how research projects with food crops and farm animals could change the world.

In his research, McPheron uses genetic tools to examine population structure in pest insects. He developed a new molecular diagnostic method for identifying the source of new Mediterranean fruit fly infestations. This method has been adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and several state and international agencies. He served as chair of the Tephritid Barcoding Initiative, an international collaboration sponsored by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life, which is developing molecular diagnostic tools for the fruit-fly family Tephritidae for use by researchers and regulatory agencies. He has taught a wide range of classes in entomology and the use of molecular genetic tools in biological research to undergraduate and graduate students. His most recent course was a class called "Comparative U.S. and European Agriculture," which challenged students to evaluate and compare food systems in these two cultures. He is a popular guest lecturer in a variety of introductory and international agriculture courses.

McPheron also is active in agricultural-research administration at the national level. He was recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2006 for his role in helping to develop a plan for competitive agricultural-research grants involving multiple land-grant universities, and he presented testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee in 2007 on behalf of all land-grant universities regarding the research section of the Farm Bill. Currently, he serves as chair-elect of the Policy Board of Directors, an organization that oversees policy for all colleges of agriculture in the nation. In addition, he has held numerous regional leadership roles, including chairing the Northeastern Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors. He also has served as chair of the Board of Directors of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development for several years.

McPheron has published numerous scientific papers in journals such as the Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, Nature, American Naturalist, and Molecular Ecology. He also has written popular-press editorials for the Harrisburg Patriot-News and the Centre Daily Times. He has presented keynote talks and invited lectures at conferences throughout the United States and in other countries, including Brazil, Ukraine, China, Kenya, and South Africa.

McPheron was awarded a USDA-CSREES Certificate of Merit for service in 2006. In 2003, the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois honored McPheron with a Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 2001, he was elected to the Penn State chapter of the Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society.

McPheron is a member of several professional organizations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Entomological Society of America, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the Society of Systematic Biology.

Before he joined the Penn State faculty in 1988, McPheron was a postdoctoral researcher at the Louisiana State University in the Department of Entomology. He earned doctoral and master's degrees at the University of Illinois in 1987 and 1980, respectively. He earned a bachelor's degree at the Ohio State University in 1976.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science that is designed for the enjoyment and education of residents of the Central Pennsylvania area and beyond. For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by telephone at 814-863-0901 or by email at CLM29@psu.edu. More information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures and a list of other lectures in the 2012 series, is available at http://science.psu.edu/frontiers.

  • Bruce McPheron, dean of Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, will give the fifth lecture in the 2012 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 09, 2015