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Research and IPM

Grants Programs: Exotic/Invasive Pests and Diseases Research

Glassy-winged sharpshooter leafhopper adult on wine grape leaf.

Important Announcement—Call for New Proposals, March, 2007 New

There will be no call for new proposals for 2007-2008 funding by the UC Exotic/Invasive Pests and Diseases Research Program, and it is unlikely that new projects will be funded during the next several years. However, funding commitments to all projects that began in 2005-06 or 2006-07 are assured and investigators will receive funds on schedule. -more-

The UC Statewide IPM Program and the UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research (CISR), through a special grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), support projects that address exotic pests and diseases, and invasive species in agricultural, urban, and natural environments. The pests include insects, mites, molluscs, nematodes, bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms, vertebrates, and weeds.

Launched in 2001 and administered by UC IPM, the Exotic/Invasive Pests and Diseases Research Program (EPDRP) funds projects designed to develop and promote basic and applied research and extension programs. Since 2001, the USDA-supported project has funded more than 80 projects, allocating more than $7 million.

Goals and priorities
Proposal and approval processes
Program structure


Goals and priorities

Exotic pests and invasive species threaten California's agricultural, urban, and natural environments, particularly the state's $27 billion agricultural industry. Exotic pest damage to California agriculture amounts to an estimated $3 billion annually. Among the exotic pests of great concern to the agricultural industry are the Mediterranean fruit fly, red imported fire ant, and the glassy-winged sharpshooter.

In the urban and natural environments, insect-vectored diseases such as West Nile virus pose public health threats and also target horses and native birds. Another threat is sudden oak death, responsible for tens of thousands of dead oak trees in California. The disease also infects coast redwood and Douglas-fir trees and was recently discovered in nursery stock.

The long-term goal of the grants program is to develop a systematic methodology to address critical problems with exotic, invasive pests and diseases, involving exclusion, prevention, management, and eradication strategies. An important role is to foster cooperation and coordination of research efforts among the UC campuses, USDA, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and the agricultural industry. The grants program is linked with informational programs to disseminate research results.

Research areas

Scientific review panels review and rate individual proposals on scientific merit and quality in three research areas:

  • Agricultural systems
  • Urban systems
  • Natural systems

Research projects given priority are those designed to lead to a better understanding of the basic and applied biology of exotic pests and diseases that impact California or are likely to do so in the future. Special consideration is given to interdisciplinary projects dealing with important pests that have received minor attention and pose a threat to California. Proposals should also address extension or outreach of information. See the research projects database for examples of projects funded. The current research areas are:

1. Agricultural systems

Research in this area focuses on exotic pests and diseases that have, or are anticipated to have, an effect on California agriculture. The projects may be either basic or applied, but they should clearly demonstrate their potential impact on agriculture in California.

2. Urban systems

Research in this area focuses on exotic pests and diseases, and invasive species that affect or could negatively impact the quality of life in urban communities. This might include parks and recreation areas, landscape and ornamentals, schools, residences, businesses and industry, and other urban areas. The projects may be either basic or applied, but they should clearly demonstrate their potential impact on human activities in the urban environment.

3. Natural systems

Research in this area focuses on exotic pests and diseases that affect natural communities. These include aquatic and terrestrial areas outside of agricultural and urban developments. The projects may be either basic or applied, but they should clearly demonstrate their potential impact on natural systems.

Proposal and approval processes

The EPDRP issues a request for proposals annually. Projects may span (last for) up to three years, but are distributed on a year-by-year basis, subject to acceptable progress reports. Progress and/or final reports are requested midway through the funding year. Final reports are submitted approximately six months after the project ends.

Investigators are scientists affiliated with public research institutions in California and outside the state. Funding is not restricted to UC investigators, although projects are strongly encouraged to include at least one career academic member of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR). This is to ensure relevance to exotic pests and diseases/invasive species of particular importance to California, and linkage to the Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension systems.

Multidisciplinary and multi-institutional proposals are encouraged to address specific issues and to allow broader use of the results.

Program structure

The EPDRP program structure includes the principal investigator, program director, co-investigator, program advisory committee, three scientific review panels, and the technical committee.

Principal investigator. The principal investigator of the grant that funds EPDRP is the UC IPM director, who leads the program (along with the program director) and makes final funding decisions. Other duties include chairing both the program advisory and technical committees, and appointing members of the technical committee and scientific review panels, based on the program director's nominations. The principal investigator also nominates members of the program advisory committee, who are appointed by the UC vice president—ANR.

Program director. The program director is the CISR director. Duties include coordinating and encouraging proposal submissions, responding to scientific issues that may arise, and recommending members of the scientific review panels, technical committee, and the program advisory committee to the principal investigator.

Co-investigator. The co-investigator is the UC ANR program leader for agricultural policy and pest management. Duties include assisting with the development of the annual proposal, coordinating and promoting EPDRP activities, and serving on the technical committee.

Program advisory committee. This key committee, comprised of approximately 13 members, includes the UC IPM and CISR directors, UC faculty, USDA and CDFA staff, and representatives from the pest control and agricultural industries. Responsibilities include evaluating the status of the research; identifying priority areas (research or information needs); determining areas of need not under study; and making recommendations to the program director and principal investigator on program operation and funding.

Scientific review panels. The three review panels, each with six to eight members, review and rate the proposals in their research area: agricultural, urban, or natural environments. They submit funding recommendations and priorities, based on the following criteria, to the technical committee:

  • critical needs
  • projects funded by current and past grants
  • appropriateness of the proposal to meet additional needs not met under the current and previous programs
  • strength of the proposed experimental design and science underlying it
  • adequacy of the personnel and facilities to ensure the fulfillment of the proposal objectives

Technical committee. The technical committee is comprised of the six review panel co-chairs, and the principal investigator (UC IPM director), who chairs the committee. Serving as ex-officio members are directors of the UC Viticulture Consortium Program, UC IPM, the Western IPM Center, the Western Plant Diagnostic Network; and the ANR program leader for agricultural policy and pest management, plus a representative from both CDFA and USDA-CSREES with expertise in pest management. Duties include reviewing the recommendations of the scientific review panels and ranking the proposals across all subject areas; and meeting with the program advisory committee to evaluate the proposals and recommend funding.


Progress reports and final reports. Principal investigators submit a progress report annually. The final report is submitted approximately six months after the project ends. Progress and final reports are included in the research projects database.

Research projects database.The research projects database can be searched by crop/site/habitat, exotic pest or disease, year funded, and principal investigator. Included are objectives, funding information, and progress summaries.

Research workshop. The program sponsors an annual research workshop where principal investigators present the results of their research. The location alternates between southern and northern California.

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