5 November 2019

New Faces: Jia-Wei Tay

New Faces: Jia-Wei Tay

Welcome to Jia-Wei Tay, a new assistant professor of urban entomology in the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences (PEPS)! She received her bachelor’s degree in applied biology and PhD in urban entomology with Dr. Chow-Yang Lee at University of Science Malaysia, where she worked on the reproduction and ovary development of the Pharaoh ant. She comes to CTAHR from the University of California, Riverside, as a postdoc with Dr. Dong-Hwan Choe in Entomology, where she developed a biodegradable hydrogel bait to manage pest ant populations.

Those experiences prepared her well for her new position at UH. Hawai‘i is known worldwide as the home of the notorious Formosan subterranean termite, and Jia-Wei’s current projects involve subterranean termite biology, management, and prevention. More broadly, her research is in the biology and management of invasive species, especially insect pests adapted to the urban environment. She hopes to figure out environmentally friendly alternatives to control target pest without impacting beneficial non-target organisms and the larger ecosystem. She is also working on a collaborative project to develop bio-pesticides against invasive ants.

Jia-Wei’s responsibilities are divided among teaching, research, and Extension. She also serves as UH faculty representative and Board Committee at the State of Hawaii Pest Control Board. She is excited at the opportunity to teach and work on something that she is passionate about. She enjoys mentoring students in the laboratory, watching them apply the skills they learn, guiding them in conducting their own research, and asking interesting questions. She is currently recruiting highly motivated graduate students for 2020–2021 for her Urban Entomology lab to conduct research on termite behavior and the development and evaluation of a slow-release bio-pesticide system.

Jia-Wei is stepping into the shoes of Ken Grace, a professor of Entomology who retired last year. She is thrilled to call Hawai‘i home! The tropical weather reminds her of her home in Malaysia, where there were always lots of bugs in her neighborhood and she honed her early interest in entomology by observing ants and butterflies.

For more information or just to say hi, you can contact her at jwtay@hawaii.edu or visit her website.

Watch “Get to Know…Jia-Wei Tay"!

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