IR-4 Project designates UMES as its Northeast Region Center | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

IR-4 Project designates UMES as its Northeast Region Center

  • IR-4 logoPRINCESS ANNE, MD-(May 11, 2020)- The University of Maryland Eastern Shore has joined the National IR-4 Project network of participating institutions.  UMES was selected to provide coordination of the Northeast Region of the IR-4 Project over the next five years. IR-4 is a USDA-funded national research program that facilitates the registration of safe and effective chemical and bio-based pesticides for fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, ornamentals and other specialty crops and minor uses on major crops (corn, soybean, cotton, wheat and other small grains).

    According to IR-4, specialty crops account for 40% of the total value of all crop production ($212.4 billion) in the country.  The agrochemical industry “often lacks the financial incentives to expand registration for their products to specialty crops and minor uses on major crops.”  IR-4 conducts the required research to fill this gap, referred to as the “Minor Use Problem.”

    Dr. Simon Zebelo, an associate professor of entomology and plant biology at UMES, has been appointed the IR-4 Northeast Regional director.  In his post, Zebelo will ensure program objectives are met and serve as the Principal Investigator of National Institute of Food and Agriculture funding grants.  He will work collaboratively with the IR-4 Project Headquarters, which relocated from Rutgers University to North Carolina State University, and the other IR-4 units (North Central, Western and Southern regions).  The newly relocated headquarters will continue to monitor and support research cooperators, participate in audits of facilities and ongoing field procedures “to assure that IR-4s data is of the highest quality and will be accepted by the crop protection industry and the Environmental Protection Agency.”Dr. Simon Zebelo

    As the regional director, I look forward to assisting specialty crop producers and other stakeholders with operations in the Northeast Region by obtaining legal access to safe and effective pesticides, biopesticides and other pest management technology,” Zebelo said.

     Since 2015, the IR-4 NER has operated as a partnership between Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and the University of Maryland, Zebelo said.  The final step of the relocation of the administrative functions of the center from Rutgers University to UMES will take place in September. Dr. Moses T. Kairo, dean of UMES’ School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, will serve as the Northeast Region advisor.  Marylee Ross, the Northeast Regional field coordinator, will continue to work out of the University of Maryland.

    “It has been great working with the UMES team to grow the initial idea in to a full partnership,” said Dr. Jerry Baron, executive director, IR-4 Project, North Carolina State University.  “Dean Kairo and Dr. Zebelo have shown great passion for joining the IR-4 network.  This is a true win-win-win for UMES, IR-4, and most importantly, the specialty crop farmers in the Northeast Region.”

    For more information, contact Baron at or Zebelo at

    Dr. Simon Zebelo, pictured, has been appointed the IR-4 Northeast Regional director and Principal Investigator.

    # # # 

    Gail Stephens, agricultural communications and media associate, School  of Agricultural & Natural Sciences, 410-621-3850,