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Klein Pendleton Rev  #4
 

Klein Pendleton Rev #4

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    Klein Pendleton Rev  #4 Klein Pendleton Rev #4 Document Transcript

    • Jamie Klein Pendleton Profile Revision 4 EDIT THIS July 26, 2010 Bonnie Pendleton lifted the large, pyramid-shaped lid to reveal three containers filled with soil and developing sorghum plants. She leaned low to peer closely at each plant. Pendleton, an entomologist and assistant professor at West Texas A&M University, was checking for damaged leaves. Any yellowing streaks? Dead leaves? “Not ready yet,” she said of the growing plants. “It’ll be a few more days before we rate them.” Pendleton then watered the plants and spoke to one of her graduate students, Suhas Vyavhare, about her rating system for sorghum plants. In the WTAMU greenhouse, Pendleton rates sorghum seeds for resistance to greenbug aphids. Pendleton focuses her research on insect pests of sorghum and millet, but she also devotes much time to mentoring students and supervising their research. Pendleton, 54, said her goal is to work with major pests of sorghum and to eventually manage those major pests without using pesticides. For example, one of her student’s discovered that greenbug aphids, an insect that has piercing, sucking mouthparts that live on sorghum leaves, live longer and reproduce more offspring sooner in their lifetimes in the summer, when the sun is out longer. That means Pendleton can tell farmers that a mild winter could lead to an infestation of greenbugs. Pendleton’s project, “Ecologically-Based Management of Sorghum and Pearl Millet Insect Pests in Africa and the United States,” focuses on the INTSORMIL objective to help local farmers prosper economically by managing insects that damage the yield and quality of sorghum
    • and millet. The project also aims to enhance sorghum and millet grain’s marketability by improving the nutritional quality of the grain by controlling pests and not using pesticides. Pendleton also uses integrated pest management strategies, like cultural management and biological research of the pests, to increase the stability and yield of the crops. Integrated pest management is a way of controlling pests by integrating a wealth of knowledge, like learning more about specific insect lifestyles and how they affect plants, with other known ways of controlling insects. She and her team have studied millet head miner, sorghum midge, different types of aphids, stalk borers and storage beetles. Research is conducted all over the world: from labs and fields in Texas to labs in West Africa. Through the project, Pendleton also supports pest management research and education of scientists in African countries and students in both Africa and the U.S. While working toward those goals, Pendleton also teaches her students as much as she can along the way. She wants them to know “it’s possible to collect data, get a result and publish.” Pendleton said she measures her projects progress through her students. If they are successful then she feels her research is successful. One of her students is Suhas Vyavhare, who moved to Canyon, Texas, from India to work on his Ph.D. with Pendleton. His research concerns maize weevils, pests that damage sorghum yields. Maize weevils are especially damaging because they can destroy 5 percent of what is being stored in grain storage areas. Weevils can also eat sorghum in fields, but are most dangerous in storage units. The insects can eat their way into sorghum seeds, where they proceed to eat the inside of the seed and leave eggs.
    • Vyavhare, whose master’s is sponsored by INTSORMIL, said he chose maize weevils as his research focus because he used to see them attacking sorghum in storage facilities while growing up in India. “Working with Dr. Pendleton is a great learning experience,” Vyavhare said. “She always wants us to improve. She believes in the practical thing—you may make a mistake the first or second time, but she knows it will get better.” He speaks glowingly about Pendleton, and his reaction isn’t uncommon. Many of Pendleton’s students have positive things to say about their soft-spoken mentor. Zach Eder joined West Texas A&M University because of Pendleton. He wanted to do application research, he wanted to do research that could directly, and immediately, be helpful. “I came here specifically for application research. It’s one thing to tell farmers to wait five to 10 years for a seed,” Eder said. “It’s another when we can tell you when to plant and when to harvest just by telling you how the insect lives.” He studies yellow sugarcane aphids. Yellow sugarcane aphids aren’t a nuisance every planting season, but when they do attack sorghum the results are disastrous. They can create a lot of damage quickly, Eder said, and the damage they create can sometimes be misdiagnosed as frost damage—the leaves will have spots that turn bright purple and then change to yellow. Vyavhare and Eder described Pendleton as: “She’s very down to earth and has a huge willingness to help.” Vyavhare said even though Pendleton has other students, other projects and other assignments, she still finds time to help him along with his research if he needs it. Eder agreed. “She does everything. She’s everywhere,” Eder said. “She has the heart of a teacher and she uses it.”
    • Even one of her collaborators who is from Niger enthusiastically spoke highly of Pendleton. Abdou Kadi Kadi Hamé, an entomologist in Niger, has worked with Pendleton on different levels for 26 years. She has been a teaching assistant in classes he’s taken and now she is his American collaborator for INTSORMIL projects. Hamé and another scientist at the Regional Agricultural Research Center in Kollo, Niger, studied millet head miner and its effects on different grains. Hamé described his relationship with Pendleton as irreplaceable. “From my perspective I would say she is all to me,” Hamé said. “You can’t even describe how the person is to you, there is no such word. So to speak Africa language and say she is all to me.” From critiquing his reports through e-mails to providing a computer for Hamé, Pendleton has tried to help him anyway she could. He helps her, too, by being another entomologist for Pendleton to bounce ideas off of or to learn about the insects in different habitats. “For all of us to develop, you can’t work by yourself,” she said. Pendleton’s list of activities and interests is a long one. She teaches economic entomology, a class about insects and their effects on humans, to 52 students twice a week, supervises five students’ research and academic work, serves on 65 local and national professional committees, writes reports and works on her INTSORMIL research. Pendleton is also a West Africa coordinator for INTSORMIL. She and another scientist collaborate to organize the INTSORMIL West Africa meeting where scientists and their principle investigators from the region meet to update one another on research. Pendleton’s presentation included brief overviews of her collaborator’s research and her student’s research. She told scientists at the
    • West Africa meeting May 2010 about the different insects they study; like millet head miner, sorghum midge, aphids and stalk borers. Even though the list goes on and on, Pendleton said she is rarely stressed. “What I do I never really find stressful mostly because I believe in what I do,” Pendleton said. “I’m used to being busy. I’d probably be stressed if I had nothing to do.” But with academics and research, Pendleton hasn’t reached a point where she can worry about having nothing to do. Pendleton said there are essentially 100-120 insects on sorghum plants, so there is always something to study. “There are too many insects in the world that it’s difficult to know hardly anything about any insects, so there is plenty of work to be done,” she said. “What I mostly spend my time doing is trying to manage some of the worst pests without just using chemicals on them.” Pendleton said finding ways to control insects without pesticides is important because many African farmers can’t afford pesticides or sometimes can’t understand the directions and end up using the chemicals improperly. Environmental factors, like drought, also come into play. Pendleton’s research team also studies plant and insect biology to see what kinds of cultural controls African farmers can use to control the pests, like clearing weeds near sorghum plant fields to keep insects away from the field. Insects are always a part of Pendleton’s life. She has insect books or small insect toys all over her office in Canyon, Texas. She also usually wears some type of an insect representation, like a ladybug ring or brooch. She insists on traveling light whenever she leaves the country— which is often. Pendleton said she visits Africa maybe two to four times a year. “I’d have to look in my passport,” she said. “I think I’ve been to Mali maybe 13 times.”
    • Pendleton was a part of INTSORMIL research before the name became official in 1979. She was working on her doctorate in entomology under Dr. George Teetes at A&M University. Teetes retired (not sure when he retired) and Pendleton submitted her own proposal to INTSORMIL for funding, which was granted in 2002. Pendleton said she took over from where Teetes left off, and to this day she follows many of the same practices he taught her. “He taught me all kinds of techniques,” she said. “I even file my papers the way he used to file them. He was super efficient.” Pendleton said there were times when she had no idea how she could ever finish all of her paperwork. Teetes would simply say “We’ll get it all done.” And they would. “He taught me to be calmer because it all does work out,” she said. For her, working with Teetes and continuing his research was just a continuation of what she had been working toward her whole life. Since she was 13, Pendleton knew she wanted to get a Ph.D. and teach science at the university level. At the time, she was choosing what courses to take in high school. Pendleton comes from a family where education was always an important topic. Her father taught high school advanced math and her mother taught junior high science. Her husband, Michael, also works with her on her INTSORMIL project as a collaborator. He is an electron microscopist at the Microscopy and Imaging Center. He lives about 550 miles away in College Station, where he works at Texas A&M University. The two married in 1980 and don’t have any children. “If I had children I would have totally stayed home,” she said. Pendleton’s Bachelor’s in biological sciences came from California State University in 1977. Many of her relatives, including her grandmother in 1922, also studied at California State
    • University. Pendleton has a master’s in anthropology from California State University and her Ph.D. in entomology from Texas A&M University in 1992. In her spare time, whenever that happens, Pendleton likes studying seashells and mollusks. She could spend hours upon hours scouring a museum and she also enjoys baking and cooking (sometimes with sorghum) and working with needlework. But “there’s always too much work to do,” she said.