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UC Merced Scientist Awarded Fulbright Fellowship

May 4, 2011
Grant will allow Joyce to travel to El Salvador to study insects beneficial to agricultural crops

Andrea Joyce, an assistant research scientist with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute (SNRI) at the University of California, Merced, was recently awarded a Fulbright fellowship to study beneficial insects in El Salvador.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Joyce’s research includes the study of parasitoid wasps, which are used as an alternative to insecticides to reduce populations of pest insects on agricultural crops. She will work with colleagues in El Salvador on a collection of beneficial insects of agriculturally important crops, including corn, rice, sorghum and sugarcane.

“I’m truly honored to have received this prestigious fellowship,” Joyce said. “This will allow me to continue research that is very important to me and to our society as a whole, while also giving me an extraordinary opportunity to work with a distinguished group of international scientists.”

The project will include the use of molecular markers to examine the biodiversity of these insects, and the results will improve the national insect collection housed at El Salvador’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

A molecular marker technique called amplified fragment length polymorphism — often used in DNA testing and genetics research — will also be taught to students at the University of El Salvador and used to examine insect biodiversity in the country’s national parks.

“As an entomologist, Andrea Joyce has been a great addition to SNRI,” said UC Merced Professor Roger Bales, director of SNRI. “She is very deserving of this honor, and her time in El Salvador is an excellent opportunity to expand her research and teaching horizons.”

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by late Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright and is sponsored by the state department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It provides participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

The grants provide opportunities for U.S. citizens to go abroad and for international citizens to come to the U.S., contributing to the United States’ bilateral relationships with countries around the world. U.S. and foreign governments jointly set priorities for the exchanges.