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Hosted by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia

Team Members


David G. Riley
Professor of Entomology

RAMP Team Leader

Dept. of Entomology
University of Georgia Tifton Campus
122 S. Entomology Dr.
Tifton, GA 31794

Phone: 229-386-3374
Email: dgr@uga.edu

Current research emphasis of the Vegetable Entomology Research Lab at Tifton is on vegetable crop insect pests. The specific kinds of investigation include plant-insect interaction, sampling, population dynamics, economic thresholds, host plant resistance, cultural controls, insecticide efficacy / resistance, and epidemiology associated with insect vectors of plant virus. Led this RAMP Team project from 2008 to 2012 and continues to post information to the web as content manager.

Alton "Stormy' Sparks, Jr. Alton N. "Stormy" Sparks. Jr.

Professor of Entomology

Dept. of Entomology
Horticulture Building
P.O. Box 748
4604 Research Way
Tifton, GA 31793

Phone: 229-386-3424
Email: asparks@uga.edu

Applied research and educational programs focus on vegetable insect management designed specifically for conditions in Georgia. The primary purpose is to provide educational programs and materials to County Extension Agents and producers to improve vegetable production systems to maximize economic returns while maintaining environmental integrity, production sustainability, produce quality and worker safety.

Greg Fonsah Ag Economist Greg Fonsah
Professor of Ag & Applied Economics

Dept. of Ag & Applied Economics
UGA Tifton Campus
Tifton, GA 31794

Phone: 229-386-3512
Email:  gfonsah@uga.edu

Dr. Esendugue Greg Fonsah is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ag & Applied Economics, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia, Tifton, Georgia with over 23 years of experience in the International Food Industry especially in bananas, fruits and vegetables. Prior to becoming a faculty member at UGA, he served in various managerial positions in several multinational companies the world over. His managerial experiences and expertise range from farm management, quality assurance, production, marketing to teaching, research and extension.  His experience in agricultural and marketing consulting covers Africa, Asia, Europe, North, Central and South America and extends to the Caribbean basin.  He has a split appointment, 85% Extension and 15% teaching and specialized in fruits, vegetables and pecans. 

Sebastian Awondo RAMP supported PhD student Sebastain N Awondo .

PhD Student

Dept. of Ag & Applied Economics
UGA Tifton Campus
Tifton, GA 31794

Phone: 229-386-3512
Email: sawondo@uga.edu

Ph.D. graduate Student working with Dr. Fonsah in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Georgia, Athens.  He’s been working on this project for almost two years.

Chris Gunter Horticulturalist NCSU

Chris Gunter

Assistant Professor of Horticulture

Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University,

Raleigh, NC 27695

Phone: 919-513-2807,Email: chris_gunter@ncsu.edu

Dr. Chris Gunter is the production specialist for the commercial vegetable industry in North Carolina, working with growers to maintain a high quality of life through the use of integrated, economical and environmentally sound production practices.Dr.Gunter is also involved in fresh produce safety and the impact of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) on these crops during field production and throughout the produce handling chain. He is a co-chair of the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Task Force.Based on the N.C. State University campus in Raleigh, N.C., Gunter is an advisor with the N.C. Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association, the N.C. Vegetable Growers Association and the N.C. Tomato Growers Association.


George G.  Kennedy
Professor of Entomology

Ecology Management Affecting Agricultural Crops Research Annex West, Ligon Rd. and 2301 Gardner Hall,Box 7613, NCSU, Raleigh, NC USA 27695

Phone: 919-515-2746, email: george_kennedy@ncsu.edu

Research in Dr. Kennedy’s program focuses on understanding the ecology and life systems of arthropods affecting agricultural crops and applying that understanding to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of arthropod management in vegetable crops. He studies fundamental interactions and processes that influence pest status, population dynamics and the insect/crop interactions that result in damage.  He applies the resulting information in combination with new technologies to enhance IPM. Areas of emphasis include insect-plant interactions, resistance management, landscape scale population dynamics, and epidemiology and management of insect transmitted plant viruses. Current research projects focus on understanding the determinants of tospovirus transmission by thrips in relation to epidemiology and management of Tomato spotted wilt virus and on the development of reduced risk arthropod management systems for fruiting vegetables. These efforts include both field and laboratory research and collaborations with faculty in Entomology, Horticulture and Plant Pathology at NCSU and colleagues at other institutions.


David Langston
Associate Professor of Plant Pathology

Dept. of Plant Pathology
University of Georgia Tifton Campus
Horticulture Bldg, 2360 Rainwater Road, Tifton, GA 31793-5766,

Phone: (229) 386-7495
Email: dlangsto@uga.edu

Georgia vegetable growers need effective integrated programs to control troublesome diseases on vegetables due to limited efficacy of current disease management techniques. Dr. Langston’s UGA plant pathology extension program assesses and integrating pesticide products, host resistance and cultural practices to reduce the impact of Phytophthora blight, southern blight, gummy stem blight, tomato spotted wilt and other important vegetable diseases. He has identified several promising tactics that have the potential to significantly reduce losses caused by these major diseases.


Ronald D. Gitaitis
Professor & REI Coordinator of Plant Pathology

Dept. of Plant Pathology
University of Georgia Tifton Campus, Plant Science Bldg.
2360 Rainwater Road Tifton, GA 31793-5766

Phone: (229) 386-3157
Email: dronion@uga.edu 

My research interests include the detection and identification of bacterial and viral pathogens, the ecology of bacterial plant pathogens and the epidemiology of both bacterial and viral diseases. My lab has most recently focused on Pantoea ananatis and P. agglomerans (thrips-vectored bacteria that are part of the center rot of onion complex), Burkholderia cepacia (sour skin of onion), Acidovorax avenae subsp. citrulli (watermelon fruit blotch), Iris yellow spot virus and Tomato spotted wilt virus (thrips- vectored viruses in the Tospovirus group). Management strategies of interest include seed health assays, crop rotation schemes with suppressive hosts, solarization, SAR compounds and adjusting micro-nutrient ratios to increase plant disease resistance.


James F. Walgenbach
Professor of Entomology

Applied Insect Ecology and Pest Management, Mountain Horticulture Research and Extension Station             455 Research Drive         Mills River, NC 28732

Phone: 828-684-3562, Fax 828-684-8715, Email:


Extension includes the development and implementation of IPM programs on fruits and vegetables in Western North Carolina. Emphasis is placed on pests of apples, staked tomatoes and cabbage. The objective is to expand the use of new pest control technology and enhance the pest control decision-making process by growers through the use of traditional extension publications, electronic information transfer technology, grower meetings and a series of on-farm tests and demonstrations. Also serve as a source of information and services for the non-agricultural residents of Western North Carolina.  Specific research problems being investigated on vegetables include population dynamics of thrips and epidemiology of TSWV, and effects of sustainable agricultural practices (i.e. cover crops, ground covers, etc.) on pest and beneficial insects in vegetable systems.


Mark Abney
Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor of Entomology

Applied Insect Ecology and Pest Management of Vegetables, Research Annex West, Ligon Rd., Box 7630, NCSU, Raleigh, NC 27695

Phone: 919.515.2745, Fax:  919.515.3748


My research focuses on the ecology and management of insect pests of commercial vegetable crops in North Carolina. Major emphasis is placed on providing science-based information to address problems in insect pest management and enhance the effectiveness of the vegetable extension program at NC State University. Primary interests are in developing/refining economic thresholds, managing insecticide resistance, and improving sampling procedures in agronomic systems. Tomato spotted wilt is an insect vectored viral disease of fruiting vegetables in the Southern US. The disease has the potential to cause severe economic losses in years of high virus/vector incidence. My lab is currently involved in a multistate, multidisciplinary research and extension project funded by USDA’s Risk Avoidance and Mitigation Program with the goal of developing improved tactics for managing the disease and the thrips that vector it. Cultural and chemical controls and host plant resistance are being evaluated.


Frank J. Louws
Professor of of Plant Pathology and Extension Specialist

2411 Gardner Hall, Campus Box 7616, Raleigh, NC 27695-7616,

Phone: (919) 515-6689, FAX: (919) 515-7716, Email: frank_louws@ncsu.edu

Our program is rooted within core values associated with a sustainable agriculture framework and is service-oriented, consistent with the mandate of a Land Grant University, with emphasis on strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and organic crops. Our disciplinary strengths are in bacteriology, soilborne pathogens, plant disease management, microbial ecology and farming systems research. A key strength of the program is the ability to understand real-world problems within a production agricultural framework and by asking strategic questions that advance the sciences of plant pathology, horticulture and systems research in organic and conventional production systems.


James W. Moyer
Professor of Plant Pathology and Department Head

North Carolina State University, Department of Plant Pathology, 2518 Thomas Hall, Box 7616,

Phone: (919) 515-2730, FAX: (919) 515-7716, Email: james_moyer@ncsu.edu

I have been Professor and Head of the Department of Plant Pathology since 2002.  The Department has approximately 30 tenure and nontenure (USDA) faculty that direct a diversity of programs from the mission oriented to discovery research supported by federally funded competitive research grants, contracts from corporations as well as state and national commodity organizations. The Department is also home to the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic which serves the diagnostic needs of plant industries in the region as well as the MicroPropagation Unit and Repository that serves as a source of clean stock planting material for sweetpotatoes, strawberries and other fruit crops.  Faculty mentor graduate students in Plant Pathology as well as a number of interdisciplinary programs.  While the faculty serve as Principal Investigator, over 45% of their funded research is from interdisciplinary projects.


Steve M. Olson
Professor of Horticultural Sciences and Extension Specialist

Dept. of Horticultural Sciences
University of Florida
Quincy, Florida

Phone: 850-875-7144
Email: smolson@ufl.edu

The mission and goals of this position is to generate and disseminate needed knowledge in vegetable production to growers, other scientists and extension personal. This may include evaluation of cultivars to select ones best suited for production in north Florida, herbicide evaluation for controlling weeds in vegetable crops, methyl bromide alternative research, new crop evaluation and introduction to allow farmers to grow different crops and production of crops in all seasons, investigate fertilization practices as to amount, placement or timing of application for optimum yields on vegetables in north Florida, to develop cropping systems that will allow maximum use of existing irrigation systems and farm land and to provide leadership in vegetable market expansion.


John “Jay” W. Scott
Professor of Horticultural Sciences

Horticulture Department, Gulf Coast REC, 14625 CR 672, Wimauma, FL 33598

Phone: (813) 633-4135, FAX (813) 634-0001, Email:


Tomato breeding and genetics including; disease and insect resistance, tolerance to genetic disorders, heat-tolerant fruit setting, genetic and environmental effects of fruit flavor and color, development of high lycopene germplasm. Dr. Scott's very productive tomato breeding program has resulted in the release of over 30 varieties and breeding lines. He has published 12 book chapters, over 80 refereed publications, and over 140 non-refereed publications. Dr. Scott has advised 10 graduate students and served on numerous graduate committees. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) and was awarded the Award of Excellence from the ASHS Vegetable Breeding Working Group, 2007. He and co-authors received the ASHS Best Vegetable Publication Award in 2009 for the 2008 paper- Diallel analysis of fruit water absorption in tomato, a contributing factor in postharvest decays. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 133(1):55-60.


J. Powell Smith
Extension Associate- Vegetable Corps and Small Fruits / Regional Lead Agent

Dept. of Entomology
Clemson University CUCES-Lexington County, 605 W. Main St. Ste. 109, Lexington, SC 29072

Phone: 803-359-8515, Email: JPSMTH@clemson.edu

I have worked for most of my career with IPM and have developed several educational programs to teach growers and consultants about the sampling practices, management issues, and crop suitability of several IPM approaches. In this USDA project we investigate the factors contributing to the disease in the region, evaluate current management recommendations, develop new recommendations, and determine the disease risk for a site prior to planting the crop. Major components of this project are on-farm testing and demonstration of current practices, newly developed practices, and the collection of extensive weather and thrips activity data from these farm areas. Grower education seminars have been held at local and regional winter production meetings and conferences, web-based questionnaires and informational portals have been developed to allow for grower input and added educational opportunities, and hands-on opportunities have been made available for learning more about this important problem.