Urban Center

Stored Food & Grain Research Program



Professor, Ecology, Food Industry Pest Management, and Insect Behavior

Extension/Research Program

Dr. Mason has a recognized extension program in stored products entomology providing the food industry with innovative alternative storage programs. In the United States stored grain losses from mold and insects exceed $500 million a year. Besides consuming grain directly, insect activity in stored grain raises the temperature and relative humidity opening the way for grain degradation by molds. Dr. Mason’s challenge in order of importance: 1) to prevent storage losses while addressing the public’s concerns over pesticide residues in food, 2) the loss of registered grain protectants, and 3) the need to maintain grain quality in long-term storage.

Dr. Mason works as part of the Purdue Grain Quality Team, an interdisciplinary approach involving entomologists, plant pathologists, food scientist, economists and agricultural and biological engineers. This team has a strong history of researching new technologies, and successfully transferring them to industry. Many of these new technologies have become industry standards when comparing next generation technologies. As a member of the Team, Dr. Mason provides leadership in developing, validating, and implementing new insect management technologies which utilize weaknesses in insect biology to reduce stored grain losses.

Dr. Mason is the only post harvest entomologist in the US with a primary extension appointment. Thus, she is called upon to conduct post harvest training and handle extension questions not only for the state of Indiana, but from all across the United States. Within the midwest, Dr. Mason is a frequent contributor at pesticide applicator trainings when fumigation re-certification credits are needed. She also organizes and plans the programmatic content of Purdue Grain Quality Team’s annual recertification workshop. Dr. Mason conducts workshops for extension educators wishing to expand their knowledge of stored grain management.

Current Projects

  • The use of ozone and extreme temperatures to manage bedbugs and cockroaches in sensitive accounts (Research with Dr. Gondhalekar)
  • Development of alternative control strategies for internal storage insects in Pakistan (with Pakistan visiting researchers)
  • Development of ozone as an alternative for traditional residual pesticides for organic grain and stored dried meat producers.
  • Movement (dispersal and translocation) of insects with grain masses.

Long-term Extension and Research Goals

Dr. Mason’s long- term goal is to increase food safety by:

  • Increasing the fundamental understanding of insect survival and interaction with pathogens within grain storage systems.
  • Develop safe alternatives to traditional insecticides for managing storage pests.

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