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John Couture named University Faculty Scholar for multifaceted research in plant and insect ecology

John Couture has been chosen as a 2024 University Faculty Scholar for his exceptional research spanning plant and insect ecology, marking a significant milestone in his tenure as an associate professor of entomologyand forestry and natural resources.

Couture’s research involves elevating the understanding of ecosystem functioning, analyzing plant chemical and metabolic profiles, refining precision agriculture techniques and developing solutions for effective natural and agricultural resources management.

Driven by pressing challenges facing our society, Couture is committed to discovering solutions.

One of the main drivers of why we do this research is that as a whole, we face societal grand challenges, including environmental change, food security, sustainability in agriculture and a number of other factors. We’re hoping that we can develop solutions to try and address some of these grand challenges." -John Couture

Couture’s research achievements are a testament to the collaborative efforts of the Couture Lab of Plant-Insect Chemical Ecology team. Graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and research technicians combine fundamental plant biology principles with innovative technology, such as hyperspectral and remote sensing, to unravel the complexities of natural systems.

Acknowledging the invaluable contributions of his students and collaborators, Couture emphasizes, “Without all of them none of this would be possible. I have students working on questions about individual organism responses to stress all the way up to ecosystem-level questions, addressing key topics like physiochemical mechanisms for agricultural plant tolerance of variable environments to carbon storage and sustainability in forests.”

Having earned his Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Wisconsin, Couture’s research journey has been shaped by a focus on plant-insect chemical ecology and tree physiological ecology.

“By training, I am a plant chemical and physiological ecologist who is interested in understanding how plants responds to stress, including insect pests, pathogens, drought and other aspects of environmental change,” noted Couture.


John Couture in Martell Greenhouse at the Wright Center examining a tree.

Since joining Purdue in 2016, Couture has bridged the gap between basic plant biology and technological innovation. He has cultivated a comprehensive research program geared towards enhancing plant health and management across diverse spatial scales. He also holds a key role within the Institute of Digital Forestry.

“I’ve had very positive interactions with deans and my department heads, especially and importantly while I was getting established,” stated Couture
The resources and support the college invests in the faculty – from seed funding to professional development and instructional support – has helped me develop a holistic program focused on trying to achieve world class research, instruction and mentoring, and engagement.” -John Couture

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