University of Richmond Biology Professor Kristine Grayson Awarded Nearly $75K from USDA for Research on Invasive Pests

June 9, 2021

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Kristine Grayson, associate professor of biology, has been awarded nearly $75,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to fund a research project focusing on the box tree moth, an invasive pest detrimental to boxwoods when they are caterpillars.

This funding will support a collaboration with the Plant Protection and Quarantine Otis Lab to develop sterilization techniques for box tree moth larvae. 

"The box tree moth is originally from eastern Asia and is currently a highly damaging invasive species in Europe, with recent detections in Canada,” Grayson said. “The U.S.  nursey industry is at high risk for the spread of box tree moth on boxwood plants, and the primary purpose of this research is to safeguard nursery plants and minimize the incidence, severity, and spread of the box tree moth if or when it arrives in the U.S."

Grayson, a field ecologist, has taught at UR since 2015 and has received funding from the Jeffress Trust and the National Science Foundation for her research in invasion ecology.


The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is a multi-faceted agency with a broad mission area that includes protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, regulating genetically engineered organisms, administering the Animal Welfare Act, and carrying out wildlife damage management activities. These efforts support the overall mission of USDA to protect and promote food, agriculture, natural resources and related issues.