Ecologist and Future Director of Northeastern IPM Center Ready for Long Run against Pests

Steve Young, incoming director of the Northeastern IPM Center.

In the Nebraska winter, he faced snow, cold, and high winds. In the summer, he dealt with pestilence and weeds. To top it off, he swam 2.4 miles, raced a bike 112 miles, and ran a 26.2 mile marathon, all in the same event.

Steve Young has seen a lot of challenges related to climate and pests, and he’s ready for more when he comes to Ithaca, New York in May to direct the Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center at Cornell University.

“Any time you’ve done endurance athletics, you reach a point of near-total mental and physical exhaustion,” Young said. “You think: Can I get out of this? Avoid that. Don’t ever go down in the valley. You might not get out.”

The idea of not giving up often runs through his mind, particularly because he’s usually pushing himself so hard.

Prior to coming to the Northeastern IPM Center, Young conducted research and extension programming on the ecology and management of weedy and invasive plant species at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln West Central Research and Extension Center. His recent publications tackled long-term management of invasive plant species with a focus on plant response to extreme climate events.

Young brings extensive knowledge in weed ecology along with an understanding of the biological relationships between plants, animals, and insects in developing long-term management strategies.

He also brings insight and experience in assembling large-scale projects, which he believes will be an area of opportunity for the Northeastern IPM Center. He recently led the development of a $7 million proposal to a private foundation on conservation of lands infested with invasive plants to sustain rural communities in eastern Montana.

As director of the Northeastern IPM Center, Young will oversee one of four regional IPM centers established by the USDA in 2000. With an annual budget of about $1.4 million, the Northeastern IPM Center serves 12 northeastern states from Maine to West Virginia, plus the District of Columbia. Several of its programs are national in scope. Based at Cornell University, the Center promotes integrated pest management, a science-based approach for dealing with pests, for environmental, human health, and economic benefits.

Young earned his PhD in soil science from the University of California, Davis, and a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Washington State University in Pullman.

In a book Young recently published, he gathered 13 of the top engineers, biologists, and economists in the world to envision a time in the near future where robot-like devices perform mechanical weed control.

“We are limited only by our own thinking,” Young said. As Director, he will pursue funding opportunities in education and regional issues to promote integrated pest management in a shifting economic landscape.

His service will overlap with outgoing director Carrie Koplinka-Loehr until July 15.

Young says he looks forward to upstate New York seasons, having raced in the 2011 Ironman at Lake Placid, among four Ironman contests he has competed in. He comes to Ithaca, New York with his wife and family.


The Northeastern IPM Center promotes integrated pest management for reducing risks to human health and the environment. If republishing our news, please acknowledge the source (“From Northeast IPM Insights”) along with a link to our website.