Departmental History


The department traces its roots to 1891 when C. H. Tyler Townsend was appointed the first entomologist and eighth faculty member employed by New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now New Mexico State University). Townsend's appointment occurred two years after the creation of the Agricultural College and Experiment Station and three years after incorporation of the institution.

During the next century, the department evolved to house a diverse number of disciplines with a common goal of solving plant, urban,and livestock protection problems that result from biotic threats. There is little doubt that this culmination of diverse disciplines represented in one department is unique within land-grant institutions. This uniqueness is, in part, due to the solutions inherent in the protection of plants, urban environments,and livestock which are best solved using an interdisciplinary approach. Currently 15 faculty and 20 staff appointments are assigned to Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science.


The majority of the agricultural ecosystems in which department members work are considered regional specialty crops, and are responsible for significant economic contributions to the state.

Left unresolved, biotic plant, urban, and livestock pests significantly reduce income, yields, product quality, marketability, and quality of life. Solutions for biotic pest threats are rarely permanent due to continued changes in hosts, pest adaptability, new plant pest introductions, and the inclusion of evolving genetic research.

Several of New Mexico’s most economically viable crop systems are grown in only a few other areas of the country with few, or no other institutions involved in providing solutions to our regional pest problems.


The education of department undergraduate and graduate students benefits greatly from faculty research directives, as do commercial agriculture and urban communities. Department research laboratories employ approximately 65 students in positions that encompass all the departmental research disciplines including molecular-based plant protection programs and applied research.

The diversity and in-depth research experience adds significantly to not only the academic side of a student’s formal education, but also enhances that student’s ability to compete for numerous career positions. Faculty research experiences continually find their way into the classroom where current pest management issues are incorporated into lectures.

The career outlook for department graduates remains strong. Few universities are able to provide the diversity of crop, urban and livestock protection skills to which Entomology, Plant Pathology, and Weed Science graduates are exposed.