New Faculty Member to Join Penn State Turf Science Team

July 28, 2014 in Articles

ben-mcgrawDr. Benjamin McGraw will be joining the Penn State Turfgrass Science program as the new turfgrass entomologist, a position with a joint appointment between the Plant Science and Entomology departments.  Ben’s responsibilities will be to conduct research on the ecology and management of turfgrass insect pests and to teach in Penn State’s 2- and 4-year programs.  Ben is looking forward to working with Pennsylvania and regional turf industry stakeholders, and teaching and mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students.

Prior to joining the Turf Science program at Penn State, Ben spent five years as an associate professor in the Golf &Plant Sciences department at the State University of New York (SUNY) – Delhi.  At Delhi, Ben was responsible for directing the Golf & Sports Turf Management program and teaching classes supporting the 2- and 4-yr programs.  Outside of these duties, Ben maintained an active research program and ran a consulting company developing ecologically-based solutions for turfgrass insect pest problems.

Ben grew up in coastal Maine, and developed a passion for turfgrass management like many did: by playing golf and mowing lawns.  Ben was exposed to entomology while attending the University of Maine, where he obtained a Bachelors of Science degree.  After college, Ben worked as a research entomologist for Mycogen Seeds, Dow AgroSciences, and AgraQuest.  He decided to enter a graduate program to combine his passion for entomology and turf management.   Ben obtained a MS in Entomology from the University of Massachusetts –Amherst working in Dr. Pat Vittum’s lab, and a Ph.D. in Entomology from Rutgers University, under the guidance of Dr. Albrecht Koppenhöfer.  During his graduate and post-graduate years, he worked on a variety of projects including cultural and biological control of turf pests, insect and pathogen ecology, and insecticide resistance management.  A main focus of his research has been the annual bluegrass weevil (ABW), a severe pest of golf course turf in the eastern United States and Canada.  His work on ABW ecology and biology has led to a greater understanding of the insect’s behavior and population development, and has improved cultural and chemical management.

At Penn State, Dr. McGraw’s research will focus on understanding insect ecology and behavior to develop sustainable turf pest management practices.  He will continue to work closely with turf managers to better understand pest issues, provide practical solutions, and generate much needed information on emerging pest issues.  Additionally, he is looking forward to working with a diverse team of turfgrass scientists and entomologists, and developing partnerships within and outside of the University to improve our understanding of managing pests in an ecologically sound manner.