Rob Venette named invasive species center director

rob venette Robert Venette, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Entomology and a research biologist for the USDA's Forest Service, has accepted the position of director for the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPPC) in CFANS, effective Jan. 2, 2015. 

In his new role, he will provide intellectual leadership and administrative guidance to ensure the center is focused on and will be effective in its mission by working closely with non-profit and for profit sectors, government and other educational and research organizations in shaping and fostering the center's research. The position is a 50 percent time administrative appointment in partnership with the Forest Service and will include helping to translate scientific findings to support policy making, application, and resource management practices and to address the invasive species affecting Minnesota's forests, prairies, urban landscapes and agricultural systems.

After working as a postdoctoral research associate in the department of Entomology at the University of Minnesota, Venette began his career in 1999 as an ecologist in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, Center for Plant Health Science and Technology. He later accepted the position of research assistant professor in the entomology department. Since 2004 he has worked as a research biologist for the USDA Forest Service located on the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus. He serves as a member of the graduate faculty in entomology, biological sciences and natural resources science and management. He holds a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California-Davis and a B.S. in genetics and cell biology from the University of Minnesota.

In his career, he's been awarded nearly $10 million in grants for the study of invasive species that affect trees or agriculture. For nearly 15 years he has served on federal committees with the USDA APHIS. His extensive research and leadership expertise in invasive species risk assessment and control, and collaborative approach across institutional and organizational boundaries clearly make him uniquely suited for success in this new role, CFANS Dean Brian Buhr noted in announcing Venette's appointment.