Matthew Borden, Graduate Student
2019 Friends of Southern IPM Award Recipient
Graduate Student Category
During his time at Virginia Tech, Matthew Borden can point to Dr. Doug Pfeiffer’s IPM course as a career-shifting experience. After working in Winchester, Virginia as an Agricultural Specialist and Orchard Manager, Matthew realized there was much more he wanted to learn. Now at the University of Florida and enrolled in both the Doctor of Plant Medicine and Master of Science (thesis) of Entomology programs, he has the opportunity to take a multidisciplinary approach to IPM, diving into a broad range of practical training and coursework exploring plant pathology, entomology, nematology, soils, and nutrient management. Because of demonstrated leadership, outreach, extension, and research, he is the recipient of the 2019 Friends of Southern IPM Graduate Student Award.
Research-based information is also needed for homeowners to make smart plant selections for their gardens. In the second chapter of his thesis, Borden examines tea scale (Fiorinia theae) susceptibility with a trial comparing tea plants with ornamental camellias and hollies. True tea, Camellia sinensis, is an emerging crop in Florida and may make a popular addition to the home garden, but Borden believes that the native yaupon holly, Ilex vomitoria, can offer additional benefits.
Once the main caffeinated beverage for Native Americans and early settlers in the region, yaupon is reemerging in the growing market for healthy and naturally-based beverages. Prevention is key to IPM, and yaupon offers great resilience. It is relatively pest-free, thrives in urban environments, and rarely requires fertilizer or irrigation. Also supportive of wildlife and pollinators, this salt-tolerant plant grows well along the coastal plain from Virginia to eastern Texas. Borden hopes that his study will help homeowners plant for "functionality as well as aesthetics:"
“I hope that this work can improve the residential landscape, even a little bit. Construction is never going to stop but we can try to make it more ecologically sustainable.”
Similarly, after deciding to produce a video for the 2017 ESA P-IE Pollinator Video Contest, he learned how to use Adobe Premiere Pro and produced the video himself. He told his advisor, Dr. Dale, that if they entered the video contest, their video would be a winner—and it was. The video communicates several lab projects studying the use of wildflowers for beneficial insect habitat on golf courses.
Borden also co-manages the Facebook group What’s Wrong with My Plant?, and is involved in other groups such as The Garden Professors and Extension Master Gardener. In effect, the majority of the factsheets that he has helped produce result from the most common questions that people asked on these groups, giving him the ability to identify and respond to needs for specific information. this includes topics like fourlined plant bug, naturally based pesticides, and insecticidal soaps vs. dish soap. One of the factsheets in particular will be presented to an audience of 1000 master gardeners at an upcoming conference. He mentions:
“What I love most is that I have been able to take some of what I have learned ... and am able to transfer that knowledge to the public.”
In the future, Borden hopes to find a career diagnosing problems and developing sound IPM practices wherever the need is greatest. At present, he hopes to learn more about what instigates change in the marketplace between plants offered by nursery growers and plants desired by public consumers. He is very interested in providing sound recommendations to developers and instructions for homeowners to improve the residential landscape. This summer, Borden will intern at the Bartlett Research and Diagnostic Laboratory in Charlotte, NC, and hopes to graduate from the University of Florida within the next few years with a Doctor of Plant Medicine and a Master of Science degree in Entomology and Nematology. He is very grateful for and appreciative of his academic program, past advisors Dr. Jay Stipes and Dr. Keith Yoder, and current advisor Dr. Adam Dale, along with his colleagues in the Landscape Entomology laboratory.
Each year, the Southern IPM Center recognizes graduate students with extraordinary potential to contribute to the development and implementation of research, extension, or implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the Southern Region of the United States. The RFA for next year’s nominations will be released in Fall of 2019. For more information about this award, other recipients, and other projects, click here.