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DAA: John D. Mumford

John D. Mumford

Ascot, Berkshire, United Kingdom | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2011

One of John Mumford’s part-time jobs as a Purdue undergraduate was collecting information from Indiana farmers on how they dealt with corn insects. During that experience, he began to ponder the problem-solving process. Later, as a Marshall Scholar in England, he focused on how pest control decisions were made on farms, and how extension information could be more effectively directed to growers’ concerns. Today, Mumford is in demand for his analyses and opinions of pest problems and their management. Issues related to the risks that management programs face in the environment are of particular interest, which has extended his work from pests to other environmental problems, such as fisheries management. He has led international missions to determine environmental risk management research, training, and implementation priorities. As director of the Centre for Environmental Policy, Mumford leads a university department that is intentionally interdisciplinary, with a range of natural scientists, engineers, and social scientists all involved in the understanding of broad environmental problems and their solutions. His teaching, too, addresses the interactions of economics and ecology in many aspects of applied resource management, environmental risk, and pest management. He finds great satisfaction in helping students see what kinds of real problems they can solve with “an understanding of biology, ecology, and some really interesting economics, management, and engineering thrown in.” Mumford is widely published in key research areas that include biosecurity, quarantine, and eradication policy for invasive pest and quarantine species; design of decision tools for environmental risk management; and integrated management of major insect pests. He believes that as the dominant macroscopic form of life on earth, insects are well worth knowing about — but he is most interested in “how humans interact with them, why we try to manage them as we do, and how we can get on with them in the end.” Mumford and his wife Megan Quinlan have a 7-year-old son. He enjoys running and beekeeping, which he also learned at Purdue.