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Jason Schmidt

Dr. Jason Schmidt began his journey to the University of Georgia growing up in Ft. Collins, CO. He enjoys adventure, many outdoor sports, and experiencing different places. He completed his undergraduate degree in the beautiful San Luis Valley at Adams State University. He then went on to pursue an initial career in wildlife biology at the Colorado Division of Wildlife, where he worked on a team that monitored macroinvertebrates in streams, and both sport fish and native fish populations from headwater streams and within the urban areas of Denver, CO. From these initial experiences in biology, he was interested in teaching and taught community college for a few years, and then pursued graduate work in the lab of Dr. Ann Rypstra at Miami University in Oxford, OH. During his PhD, Dr. Schmidt worked in corn and soybean systems studying the effects of crop residue as a habitat potentially altering species interactions. Dr. Schmidt’s PhD focused on the foraging ecology of the wolf spider Pardosa milvina, and his interest became focused on how habitat within agricultural systems might alter foraging efficiency and also interactions between different predators foraging in the same area. His interest in foraging ecology developed during his PhD, and he went on in a post-doctoral role at the University of Kentucky to learn about applying basic molecular tools to reveal recent feeding of predators on pests and other prey, molecular gut content analysis (MGCA). Gathering the skills of MGCA, he became more interested in applied questions of how and when agricultural management practices might alter pest predation. He went on to work with Dr. Matt Grieshop and Dr. Zsofia Szendrei at Michigan State University to work in vegetable systems and also organic pest management systems in tree fruit.  Now at the University of Georgia, Dr. Schmidt continues to have a strong interest in spider roles in agricultural, and natural environments, and built a large team and collaborations across the university to focus on conservation biological control, species interactions within agricultural systems, and pollinator communities and conservation.

In his first five years, he has begun to resolve the beneficial arthropod communities of most of the major agricultural systems in Georgia including blueberry, cotton, peanut, onion, pecan, and peaches, and in novel solar pollinator environments. Dr. Schmidt funds his program from a variety of sources including SSARE, NIFA, NRCS, and NREL.  In the coming years, as some of his initial work at the University of Georgia comes to fruition, he envisions his work becoming translational to reach growers of different commodities, and is currently working with both blueberry and cotton/peanut growers to plan for incorporating conservation practices in areas of their land that is “marginal”. That is, of less productive value and more difficult to farm. Marginal land creates an opportunity for conservation biological control and for pollinator habitats.

Schmidt lab members