Featured in: DPM Newsletter Spring 2016
Dr. Trevor Smith has served as Affiliate/Graduate Faculty at the University of Florida for the past five years. As an Assistant Professor (courtesy) in the Entomology and Nematology Department, Dr. Smith’s areas of specialty include taxonomy, biological control, eradication technologies, regulatory agricultural issues, biomass plant regulation, and leadership roles in regulatory ento-mology. He provides mentorship to graduate students by directing research projects and delivering lectures within his areas of interest. Dr. Smith serves on several graduate student committees, including current DPM/PhD student Cory Penca. MS Entomology and Nematology alumnae Ashley Poplin and Katrina Pickens, and DPM alumnus Eric LeVeen, also had Dr. Smith on their committees.
Aside from his involvement with students as an Affiliate faculty member, Dr. Smith is also employed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry (FDACS-DPI) as the Division Director. Although the appointment to Division Director was a relatively recent change, Dr. Smith has been an employee with FDACS for almost 11 years. His involvement with DPI began 15 years ago when he volunteered in the Florida State Collection of Arthropods (FSCA).
While completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida, Dr. Smith visited DPI and the FSCA during a class field trip. His amazement at the sheer size and quality of the collection along with exposure to the real-world problem solving activities occurring within the regulatory agency, prompted him to choose UF for graduate studies. Subsequently, he began to volunteer at the DPI museum and has since moved up within DPI, holding various positions over the years such as Laboratory Technician IV in 2006, State Survey Coordi-nator for the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS Program) in 2007, Bureau Chief of Methods Development and Biological Control in 2010, and currently Division Director in 2015. Dr. Smith is responsible for the supervi-sion, management and administration of personnel and activities within DPI. Throughout his time with the Division, Dr. Smith’s appreciation grew for the role they play in maintaining the integrity of not only the State’s agricultural and natural resources but also the country’s food supply.
In addition to working as the Division Director at DPI and Affiliate faculty at UF, Dr. Smith works very closely with the DPM Program as a new member of the DPM External Advisory Committee. The Committee provides stakeholder guidance and an external perspective for the Program to mold its students into plant doctors that best fit the needs of employers. The Committee consists of ten individuals with diverse backgrounds in industry, regulatory, academia and extension. Their valuable insight helps improve student and alumni recognition as well as long-term DPM Program initiatives. To learn more about the EAC and its other members, visit: https://dpm.ifas.ufl.edu/external-advisory-committee/.
Dr. Smith continuously supports and maintains involvement with DPM students and other faculty members. When asked to qualify the effectiveness of the DPM program at training students for regulatory careers such as his, Dr. Smith shared the following:
“I have been very impressed with the DPM graduates. There is a real need in the regulatory world for highly trained personnel with an extensive knowledge base of plant pests and diseases. PhD programs have become increasingly specialized, and while there is certainly a need for this level of specialization, it is not very condu-cive to scientists in the field having to identify a broad range of pests and pathogens and enact regulatory measures quickly. During my time as the Florida CAPS State Survey Coordinator, I specifically looked for DPM graduates to fill positions within our program. CAPS is our early detection and rapid-response team and is our first line of defense for new pest and pathogen incursions. In addition to the expertise necessary to fill these positions I was also looking for people with strong communication skills as we interact regularly with the public and must be able to communicate clearly the importance of a healthy and vibrant Florida agricul-ture and the need to protect this industry from invasive pests. DPM graduates fit perfectly into this role. In fact, we have hired nine DPM graduates here at DPI in the last seven years.”
Dr. Smith also shared a few words of advice for our student readers, “Step outside of your comfort zone every time you get the chance. Most of our limitations are self-imposed. If you get the chance to take on a new challenge do so, and you will only be stronger for it.”