The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has appointed Helmuth Rogg, PhD., as the new administrator for the Plant Industry Division and as the State Plant Regulatory Official (SPRO).
As administrator, Dr. Rogg will oversee operations in the Plant Industry Division, which includes the Plant Quarantine, Plant Pest Control and Pesticides branches. As designated by the National Plant Board, the SPRO is the state’s lead person responsible for overseeing pest detection and regulatory activities between government agencies and coordinates the state’s initial emergency response if an exotic pest is detected.
“The department is pleased to have an administrator of the caliber of Dr. Rogg to help lead our state in managing the complex issues of pest control and prevention, invasive species and plant health,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “The breadth and depth of his knowledge and experience will be of tremendous service in support of the department’s mission to protect and expand the state’s agricultural resources.”
Dr. Rogg, was most recently the director of the Plant Protection and Conservation Program Area with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and oversaw the Insect Pest Prevention & Management Program (IPPM), the Noxious Weed Management Program, the Nursery, Christmas Tree and Hemp Program, and the Plant Conservation Program. Dr. Rogg began his career with ODA as an entomologist and later as the IPPM manager. Since 2018, Dr. Rogg has served as the president of the Western Plant Board in his capacity as the State Plant Regulatory Official (SPRO) for the State of Oregon.
While at ODA, Dr. Rogg has worked on several Hawai`i-based projects, including collaborating with agricultural inspectors from HDOA and the Washington State Department of Agriculture to develop a pre-shipment inspection protocol for Christmas trees which significantly reduced the number of invasive species arriving in holiday tree shipments to Hawai`i. Dr. Rogg also collaborated with HDOA and the U.S. Forest Service testing potential biocontrol agents to control the brown marmorated stink bug on Hawai`i’s endemic koa bug. More recently, Dr. Rogg joined a group of agencies to evaluate new biocontrol initiatives to control gorse weed in Hawai`i and Oregon.
Prior to joining ODA, Dr. Rogg was the head of the Invertebrate Department at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, where his work included applied research in conservation of endemic invertebrate species, eradication programs for invasive insect species and plant quarantine issues. Dr. Rogg also worked at universities in Santa Cruz and La Paz, Bolivia, as an entomology professor and an IPM researcher and extension specialist. His experience also includes work in Benin and Nigeria, Africa, at the Biological Control Program of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
Dr. Rogg earned his master’s degree in biology, with specialization in entomology, in 1986 and his doctorate in agricultural sciences with an emphasis in integrated and biological control in Germany in 1992.
In Oregon, he and his wife own and operate a 20-acre farm with two acres in lavender production.