Matthew Borden, Graduate Student

Matt at the model home neighborhood of On Top of the World in Ocala, Florida. The neighborhood has been a valuable collaboration site for numerous projects, including his soil mitigation study.
Matt at the model home neighborhood of On Top of the World in Ocala, Florida. The neighborhood has been a valuable collaboration site for numerous projects, including his soil mitigation study.

2019 Friends of Southern IPM Award Recipient

Graduate Student Category

Matthew Borden
Matthew Borden

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.

Adjoining lots at our study site demonstrating the rapid change from cleared, disturbed soil to planted landscapes
Adjoining lots at his study site
demonstrating the rapid change
from cleared, disturbed soil to
planted landscapes
Borden and his advisor, Dr. Adam Dale, are addressing the need for recommendations to developers in a region of rapid urban expansion. Most people in the Southeast want a suburban life with an independent home and yard, but construction can cause many stresses for a new landscape. The first chapter of Borden’s thesis focuses on determining the effects of residential development and soil mitigation practices on lawn and soil arthropod communities and their ecosystem services. Although it is too early to draw definite conclusions, he is still finding that the addition of composted organic matter to soil might not always have the predicted effect, and reinforces the notion that research is important because results cannot be assumed. He plans to combine his results with similar projects from other UF researchers to make a more comprehensive recommendation for developers in Florida. 
Flowers of female yaupon holly, Ilex vomitoria
Flowers of female yaupon holly,
Ilex vomitoria

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.

Flowers of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis.
Flowers of the tea plant,
 Camellia sinensis.

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.”

It is clear that Borden is talented and passionate when it comes to conducting innovative research, but sharing knowledge through outreach using  a multitude of different mediums including social media, video, and print, is his  favorite facet of his work:
Cover of Borden's book, "Helpful, Harmful, Harmless"When met with the task of co-writing and designing a book, he took initiative to learn Adobe InDesign and Photoshop to acquire the skills needed to complete the project, showing his resilience and innovative mindset.  The book, Helpful, Harmful, Harmless: Insects and other Organisms of Florida Landscapes, is now in its second printing and is a bestseller at the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore.

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.

Extension Master Gardener LogoBorden 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.