2010 Winner: Innovation In Agricultural Science Sponsored By Dow AgroSciences Canada Inc.
Love Of Bugs Leads Entomologist To Introduce New Agricultural Practices
A fascination with insects as a child led Dr. Lloyd Dosdall to a long and prestigious career as an entomologist.
“I’ve always loved bugs,” he says. “There’s an amazing diversity of insects with incredible adaptations for nearly every habitat imaginable. They’re great to work with because they can be easily manipulated and studied to see how they respond.”
Dr. Dosdall has spent much of his 25-year career studying the insects that infest Alberta farmers’ fields. His innovative research and his application of it, has resulted in exceptional contributions to Alberta’s agricultural industry.
Among his greatest achievements is developing a weevil-resistant canola that promises to provide enormous economic benefits to canola growers and helps reduce environmental degradation through pesticide use. This is one in a long list of Dr. Dosdall’s accomplishments.
“I’ve had a fascinating, satisfying career,” says the dedicated entomologist and University of Alberta professor. “It’s given me a chance to help farmers in ways that also help the environment by controlling insects without using insecticide and encouraging farming practises that favour productivity of crop plants but are not favourable for insect development.”
The focus of Dr. Dosdall’s current research examines beneficial insects, predators and parasites, and exploits their abilities to control crop pests naturally.
“Any ecosystem is a complex array of many species,” Dr. Dosdall explains. “Some of them may be beneficial for controlling pests so we can avoid the harm insecticides cause, which can be quite devastating to human health, the environment and possibly on export markets.” He says selling pesticide-free canola can give Alberta producers a competitive advantage over other countries that use pesticides.
Importance of Communication
Research is only one of Dr. Dosdall’s pressing priorities.
“Research is crucial,” he agrees. “The other equally important step is communicating the results. I’m committed to working with Alberta farmers, bringing the message to them so they can adopt beneficial practices in their crop production and improve their livelihoods.”
Also high on Dr. Dosdall’s list of priorities is training the next generation of insect ecologists in his classroom in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the U of A.
“I work with extremely talented people who get really excited about entomology,” he says. “It’s inspiring to know they’ll take what we’ve developed and they’ll push it forward.” He recounts his satisfaction at seeing one of his students defend her masters thesis. “I was impressed and I was proud that as her coach, I helped her in this success,” he says. “Teaching is the highlight of my career.”
Dr. Dosdall is considered by his peers to be a talented researcher who discovers practical solutions to problems. Testimony to his reputation is his ability to assemble international teams of scientists to work with him and the frequent invitations he receives to contribute to books and to make presentations at workshops and conferences.