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UC Merced prof wins Fulbright to study insects in El Salvador

UC Merced said Andrea Joyce, an assistant research scientist with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute on its campus was 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, the university said in a news release.

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.

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.

The Fulbright Program 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, the news release said.