We are located in Wenatchee, WA in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, where there is a rich history of research leading to a simultaneous reduction in the environmental impact of agriculture and improvement of food production. In tree fruits these advancements have included early and continued research identifying the unintended consequences for broad-spectrum pesticides on beneficial predators of pests, the use of species-specific pheromones to disrupt pest mating, and the use of mathematical models to apply pest controls only when they are most effective. We aim to build on this legacy by improving our understanding of the interactions pests have with other organisms and their environment to identify novel, environmentally sustainable methods of pest management.
While our group is now focused on improving pest management in Pacific Northwest tree fruits, we have experience in a variety of systems. In particular, Tobin has moved recently to Washington State University from James Cook University in tropical Cairns, Australia where Tobin advised students working on projects such as the development of insect-specific pathogens to control banana pests, and the improvement of pest and pollinator management in cocoa. At Washington State University his research primarily focuses on tree fruit systems. He leads an interdisciplinary task force comprising researchers and representatives from government and industry that works to improve management of little cherry disease (caused by Little cherry virus or X disease phytoplasma), and leads research projects on pests in cherry, pear, and apple systems. The Northfield lab also works to develop general ecological theory that can be applied to understand processes governing pest outbreaks and evaluate the long-term sustainability of pest management strategies.