Tom Royer to retire after more than 26 years of service
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Tom Royer, Oklahoma State University professor, Extension entomologist and Integrated Pest Management coordinator with the OSU Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, is retiring on Feb. 1 after more than 26 years of service to the university and integrated pest management program.
“Dr. Royer’s contributions to our land-grant mission and the agricultural producers of Oklahoma are something I would consider priceless,” said Tom Coon, vice president and dean for OSU Agriculture. “He and his colleagues developed sampling systems for detrimental insects in crops, smartphone apps and much more. He is quick to respond to emerging issues, such as sugar-cane aphid outbreaks and keeping our food supply across the southern plains region safe and plentiful.”
In 1984, Royer found his calling to become an Extension entomologist while working with a team of research entomologists at the Texas Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Weslaco. He returned to school, graduating with a doctorate from Texas A&M University in 1991. He then worked for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service for six years as an area IPM educator.
“In 1997, I applied for an assistant professor and Extension entomologist position with the department of entomology at OSU, and the faculty took a chance on me,” Royer said. “Being an Extension entomologist has truly been my dream job.”
Over the course of his career, Royer has had statewide Extension responsibilities for insect management in cereal grains and field crops as well as supervised aphid and pest control in wheat, sorghum, canola, corn, soybeans, and rangeland and pasture. He has also served as the coordinator for IPM Oklahoma!, an OSU Extension program that currently supports IPM projects in cotton, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, fly management in livestock and pests in public housing.
Royer and his IPM team have screened for effective insecticides and host plant resistance while developing economic thresholds and several rapid pest scouting tools. Their projects have saved Oklahoma growers $6.2 to $14.4 million per year in lost grain yield. His Extension programs have addressed weed control, insect pest management in different cropping systems and livestock pest management.
“Dr. Royer is the consummate Extension specialist. He has directly impacted Oklahoma agriculture by serving as the IPM Coordinator for the state, which has garnered over $10 million in IPM-related funding,” said Justin Talley, head of the entomology department. “His legacy will resonate with Oklahoma for many years through his countless efforts that addressed pest management issues as they impacted Oklahoma agriculture. I personally consider Dr. Royer a mentor, who has shown me on countless occasions how to communicate important information in an applicable manner.”
In 2022, Royer received the Gerrit Cuperus Integrated Pest Management Award for outstanding IPM leadership from OSU Extension, the Lifetime Achievement Award of Recognition at the 10th International IPM Symposium and the Friends of IPM Hall of Fame Award from the Southern IPM Center.
“The most satisfying thing about my job has been my interactions and collaborations with my ‘team’ of regional and state research and Extension professionals, local USDA-ARS scientists, undergraduate and graduate students, ag professionals, and Oklahoma producers as we worked to solve pest problems,” Royer said. “Any success I can claim is due in large part to the people that I have worked with. This job has exceeded every career expectation I ever had; it has been interesting, challenging and fully satisfying both professionally and personally.”