Training Instructors

Dr. Ed Vargo, Professsor and Endowed Chair

vargoDr. Ed Vargo is a Professor of Entomology and holds the Endowed Chair for Urban and Structural Entomology at Texas A&M University. This position has responsibility for Research, Teaching and Extension programs that involve the integrated management of insects associated with the near environment of humans and their pets.

Before joining Texas A&M, Dr. Vargo was Professor at North Carolina State University. He received his Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Georgia in 1986. The subject of his research was the physiology and behavior of the red imported fire ant. Dr. Vargo then spent two years abroad in Toulouse, France, where he studied the physiology and behavior of Argentine ants with Professor Luc Passera. He returned to the U.S. in 1989, at which time he resumed his studies on fire ants at the University of Texas at Austin.

In 1998 he joined the faculty in the Department of Entomology at NC State University. His present research focuses on the population genetics of urban pests, primarily termites and bed bugs. Dr. Vargo has published more than 100 scientific articles on urban pests and has given more than 180 talks at professional meetings and scientific conferences. In honor of his contributions to the field of urban entomology, Dr. Vargo was awarded the 2006 Entomological Foundation Recognition Award in Urban Entomology, the highest honor in this field conferred by the Entomological Society of America. He served at Interim Head of the Department of Entomology at NC State from 2013-2014.

Dr. Robert Puckett, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist

puckettDr. Puckett earned his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in the Department of Biological Sciences at Sam Houston State University under the advisement of Dr. Jerry Cook, and his Ph.D. in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University under the advisement of Dr. Marvin Harris. His dissertation work addressed field ecology of introduced Pseudacteon phorid flies and Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) with the goal of improving fire ant biocontrol. His work combined manipulative laboratory and field experiments to refine our understanding of the potential for these flies to serve as successful biological control agents against RIFA. In addition, Robert developed a novel method to detect and monitor phorids in the field. GIS-based investigations of phorid micro-habitat selection and suitability, spatial distribution patterns and phenology have been enhanced by this new and more sensitive monitoring tool and his dissertation research explored these aspects of the ecology and biology of two recently introduced phorid species, as well as phorid interactions with RIFA and one another.

Robert’s research in the Center for Urban and Structural Entomology will primarily involve investigations into the ecology and biology of Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki). His research experience involving social insect biology, insect ecology and behavior, invasive species biology and GIS leave him ideally suited for this position. In addition, he will continue a number of RIFA/phorid fly experiments that began concurrently with his dissertation work.

Robert is currently serving as Co-Chair of the ESA Ethics and Rules Committee, and served as President of the Entomology Graduate Student Organization at Texas A&M (’06-’07). He is supported in all of these efforts by his wife Jennifer and their children Lauren and Cooper.

Chris Keefer, Assistant Research Scientist

keeferChris Keefer is currently an Assistant Research Scientist with the Center for Urban and Structural Entomology at Texas A&M University. He is involved with several research projects. These projects include the testing of new cockroach baits, efficacy of new termiticide chemistry, effects of non-repellent termiticides on termites, and new termite treatment procedures. He is also a co-instructor of the Texas A&M University “Philip J. Hamman Termite Control Training School.”

He received his B.S. Degree from Texas A&M University in Entomology. He has recently completed his M.S. Degree from Texas A&M University. He is a Board Certified Entomologist in Structural and Industrial entomology through the Entomological Society of America. Chris holds a Certified Applicator’s license through the Texas Structural Pest Control Service and is licensed in General Pest control, Termite control, Lawn and Ornamental control, and Structural Fumigation. He worked as a pest control operator in Bryan/College Station for ten years servicing residential and commercial accounts. His duties also included the classroom and field training of new employees.

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