Originally from Allentown in eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Bill Snyder obtained his B.A. in Biology from the University of Delaware, his M.S. in Ecology from Clemson University, and his Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Kentucky. His graduate work focused primarily on the ecology of predatory insects and spiders, including those important for the biological control of agricultural pests. After a short postdoc in the Zoology Department at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bill became the Biocontrol Specialist in the Department of Entomology at Washington State University. In Washington, Bill had state-wide responsibilities for biological control research and extension in a wide array of vegetable crops, on farms both large and small and including many organic farms. After nearly 20 years in the Pacific Northwest, Bill is excited to return to the southeastern U.S. where he began his graduate career. He joined the Entomology Department at the University of Georgia, with a home base in Athens, in July 2019.
Bill Snyder and his research group are looking forward to the wide diversity of soils, climates, and cropping systems in the southeastern US. The lab is particularly excited about a few research directions. First, the team has developed a new interest in the ecology of food safety on the farm. In the Pacific Northwest they found that dung beetles and antagonistic soil microbes effectively suppress pathogenic E. coli that otherwise can contaminate fresh produce. Recent work is beginning to suggest that wild songbirds, sometimes viewed as vectors of human pathogens best excluded from farms, instead eat many pest insects while posing few food-safety risks. Bill is hoping to pursue similar food safety work in the Southeast, alongside research looking at how beneficial bacteria and fungi in the soil allow crop plants to protect themselves against plant-feeding insects and attract predatory insects to their defense.
Bill looks for ways to return beneficial biodiversity to farms to restore valuable “ecosystem services,” while maintaining farm productivity and profitability. Nearly all of the work in Bill’s laboratory is conducted on the farms of cooperating growers. If you are interested in learning more about the beneficial insects, birds, or soil organisms on your farm, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Bill. He’d love to include your farm in future projects.