Meet the Researcher: Dorah Mkabili Mwangola
Ph.D. Student | she/her/hers
Dorah Mkabili Mwangola is part of an MITPPC-funded team – led by entomologist Brian Aukema – that is working on saving urban ash trees from the invasive emerald ash borer.
What is the emerald ash borer (EAB), and where is it found?
EAB is an invasive wood-boring insect, first introduced to North America in the 1990's. It is native to northeastern China, the Korean peninsula, and eastern Russia, and has been detected in 35 American states and 5 Canadian provinces to date.
Why is EAB a problem?
EAB is a problem because it kills North American ash trees (Fraxinus species). Ash trees are a prominent street tree as well as an important tree in many natural forests. EAB larvae feed underneath the bark of ash and disrupt the tree's vascular system – which transports nutrients and water up the tree – resulting in crown thinning and eventually tree death.
How will your research help?
My research focuses on one of the main management strategies in urban centers which is the use of insecticide treatments. We are interested in determining whether treating a proportion of ash trees within an urban environment can result in the protection of the untreated trees. This treatment regime could lower insecticide use and the overall cost of treating trees.
What can people do to help fight EAB in Minnesota?
People can help by not moving firewood, as this reduces the risk of transporting EAB in the wood. Another thing they can do is report any trees that they suspect may be infested with EAB to their local city foresters or the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Information on what infested trees and EAB look like can be found on the UMN Extension website.
When you are not out in the field or in the lab, what do you like to do for fun?
In the summer, I love to explore the Twin Cities on my bike. I also like reading books, listening to music and hanging out with friends.
Funding for this project was provided by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative and Citizen Commission for Minnesota Resources.