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Test to Detect Grain Insects Tops List of Postdoc Projects / December 24, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Test to Detect Grain Insects Tops List of Postdoc Projects

By Linda McGraw

WASHINGTON, Dec. 24--Coming up with improved tests to detect insects and insect fragments in stored-grain products with high technology sensors tops the list of 50 proposals selected by the Agricultural Research Service for its 1999 Postdoctoral Research Associate Program.

ARS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific agency, has allocated $4 million to fund the 50 projects selected from more than 300 proposals from ARS scientists.

Each ARS scientist whose proposal was accepted will receive $80,000 to hire a postdoc for two years of high-priority research.

“The postdoc proposals enable us to direct more of our limited funds to meet our most significant research needs. At the same time, we can provide postdocs an opportunity to do cutting-edge science alongside veteran researchers," said ARS Administrator Floyd P. Horn. “Each year, the proposals submitted by scientists show remarkable quality.”

This year’s top-ranked proposal was submitted by ARS entomologist James E. Throne for improved tests for early detection of stored-product insects in grain and grain products, such as wheat and wheat flour. Damage from larvae of the lesser grain borer, rice weevil and maize weevil costs the U.S. wheat industry about $500 million annually.

For submitting the top proposal, Throne will receive the agency’s T. W. Edminster Award, which includes a plaque and a second year of postdoctoral research funding.

Cooperating with Throne are entomologist James E. Baker and agricultural engineer Floyd E. Dowell. All three scientists are with the agency’s Grain Marketing and Production Research Center in Manhattan, Kan. The tests will use a technology called near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS).

Throne’s proposal was one of the top six of the 50 research proposals accepted for funding. The other five are from:

  • Thomas A. McKeon at the agency’s Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., to reduce the allergen content of castor beans for increased U.S. production of castor oil for industrial uses.

  • Robert R. Martin of ARS' Horticultural Crops Research Unit in Corvallis, Ore., to study the transmission of raspberry bushy dwarf virus, which infects red and black raspberries throughout the world.

Scientific contact: Edward B. Knipling, associate administrator, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Washington, D.C., phone (202) 720-3656.

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