Published on 07/21/16

UGA scientist Kris Braman named head of university's entomology department

By Sharon Dowdy

Twenty-seven years after joining the faculty as a fledgling researcher, University of Georgia professor Kris Braman has been named the head of the university’s Department of Entomology.

“The entomology department at the University of Georgia is highly ranked and widely recognized for the strength and balance of its programs in core areas,” said Braman, whose appointment was effective July 1.

As the new department head, Braman sees the entomology program continuing to address current and emerging priorities in the discipline in a way that meets the needs of agricultural, urban and industry clientele.

A native of New York state, she earned a undergraduate degree in forestry at the State University of New York (SUNY) and a doctorate in entomology from the University of Kentucky.

“All SUNY forestry students were required to take entomology because insects are so important in managing forest health,” she said. “I was hooked for life before I was out of my teens!”

Braman joined the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty in 1989, working on the college’s campus in Griffin, Georgia. Since then she has conducted research on pests and beneficial insects of turfgrasses and ornamentals in urban settings.

Her research ensures turfgrasses stay lush and aren’t destroyed by insect pests like chinch bugs, two-lined spittlebugs, mole crickets, grubs and a variety of caterpillars. By first studying the biology and behavior of both the pest and its predators, Braman develops control methods that include the use of natural enemies, pest-resistant plant varieties, alternative control technologies and insect scouting.

She plans to continue conducting research as it keeps her “grounded and cognizant of issues faculty face on a regular basis,” she said. “All of my research projects have contributed to the development of decision-making guidelines that provide support to the green industry. I am exceptionally proud of the students and staff who made these projects possible, and I enjoy celebrating their successful careers.”

In 2011, Braman was named director of the university’s Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture, located on the UGA Griffin Campus. There, she works closely with Georgia’s green industry and UGA Cooperative Extension agents in Georgia’s urban areas to share the research-based recommendations that UGA faculty discover.

In addition to conducting research and leading the center, Braman teaches general entomology and biological control classes for both UGA undergraduate and graduate students.

Most recently, she temporarily stepped into another leadership role on the UGA Griffin Campus as the campus’ interim assistant dean of CAES from October 2014 through October 2015.

“Leadership just became a natural extension of wanting to help other people and programs grow and succeed,” she said.

Braman has served as president of both the Georgia Entomological Society and the Southeastern Branch of the Entomological Society of America. Her numerous honors include being presented the society’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology, the Georgia Green Industry Association’s Environmental Friend of the Industry Award and being named a “Distinguished Alumni” of the University of Kentucky’s Department of Entomology.

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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