You are here: Home / People / Profile

Profile

Justin Runyon

Justin B. Runyon

Research Entomologist
1648 South 7th Avenue, MSU Campus
Bozeman, MT 597177-2780
Phone: 406-994-4872
Contact Justin B. Runyon


Current Research

Justin’s research focuses on the chemically mediated ecological interactions between plants and herbivores. His current research includes: (1) exploring chemically-mediated ecological interactions between invasive plants and herbivores to improve biocontrol as a management tool, (2) examining how bark beetle attack alters tree chemistry and how this affects flammability to better predict and manage wildfires, and (3) investigating the roles plant volatiles play in plant-pollinator interactions and how herbivory and invasive plants alter these interactions at the community level.

Justin also researches the taxonomy and biodiversity of long-legged flies (Diptera: Dolichopodidae).

Research Interests

Biological control is one of the few tools capable of managing widespread exotic plant invasions, which, at its most successful, can offer long-term solutions to weed problems. However, some biological control agents obtain approval and are released, but fail to impact weed populations. This is troublesome because exploration, testing, and approval for each agent take many years and is estimated to cost several millions of dollars to complete. Moreover, ineffective agents can persist and cause unwanted ecological changes in the communities in which they occur. A better understanding of the interactions between biocontrol agents and their invasive host plants is needed to identify the factors which promote or limit successful biocontrol. My approach is to apply the chemical ecology of plant-herbivore interactions to classical biological control of weeds - two fields which have largely progressed independently to date. Chemistry plays a central role in determining ecological outcomes between plants and insects, and should provide information that can be used to better predict which potential agents are most likely to be effective.

Past Research

1. Chemical Ecology of interactions between invasive parasitic plants, their host plants, and insect herbivores. 2. Biological control and chemical ecology of the tritrophic system consisting of the wheat stem sawfly, host plants, and natural enemies.3. Taxonomy and revisionary studies of long-legged flies (Diptera: Dolichopodidae).

Why This Research is Important

Invasive species present one of the greatest threats to the health and sustainability of ecosystems worldwide. This research will better position us to devise and apply biological control to address plant invasions. It will also advance our basic understanding of the ecology of plant-insect interactions and the conditions under which herbivory translates into meaningful changes in plant populations - fundamental ecological questions that hold great promise for managing invasive plants.

Education

  • University of Virginia's College at Wise, VA, BS Biology and Mathematics, 1998
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, MS Entomology, 2001
  • Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, Ph.D. Entomology, 2008

Awards & Recognition

  • Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award, 2014
    This is "the highest honor that the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Ag Alumni Society present to select alumni who have achieved notable professional achievements and brought distinction to themselves, the college, and the University."
  • Kavli Fellow, 2014
    Invited to participate in the Kavli Frontiers of Science symposiumin Medan, Indonesia in June 2014. This is the premiere activity within the U.S. National Academy of Sciences for distinguished young scientists.
  • Deputy Chief’s Early Career Scientist Award , 2012
    This honor was awarded “in recognition of your outstanding research productivity and your impacts on science including your major efforts in science delivery.” Received February 2013 in Washington D.C.
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) , 2012
    This is “the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers”. Received April 2014 in Washington D.C.

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

Research Highlights

HighlightTitleYear


RMRS-2011-13
Biological control of invasive plants

Scientists are studying chemical ecology regarding the biocontrol of weeds and discovering that biocontrol insects affect weed chemistry in very ...

2011


RMRS-2012-14
Unwanted Side Effects of Roads Are Invasive Species

Monitoring invasive plants is an important component of forest restoration

2012


Last updated on : 06/27/2014