Sabrina White

Mentor: Dr. Daniel Hahn
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"I got into research because I enjoy the pursuit of knowledge and the discovery and new information, so research is a perfect fit for what I love to do."


Entomology and Nematology


East Asian Languages and Literatures: Japanese

Research Interests

  • Entomology
  • Insect Physiology
  • Medical Entomology

Academic Awards

  • Nan-Yao and Jill H. Sue Entomology Scholarship
  • Orange County Farm Bureau Scholarship
  • UF Dean's List


  • CALS Honors Program
  • CALS Leadership Institute 2013-14
  • CALS Ambassador 2013-14


  • Assistant TA for Insect Classification Class
  • Volunteer with WLS international in Thailand

Hobbies and Interests

  • Traveling
  • Outdoor Activities
  • Watching Movies

Research Description

Do the modified atmospheres used in produce transportation make insect pests more resistant to phytosanitary irradiation?
Phytosanitary irradiation (PI) aims to prevent the spread of invasive pest insects in imported agricultural products. PI involves treating packaged agricultural products with ionizing radiation to sterilize or kill pests in commodities. One major challenge facing PI is determining generic radiation doses that would be effective over a wide range of insects, because different insects have varying resistance to radiation, and differences in susceptibility to irradiation may be environmentally determined. The implementation of a generic radiation dose that would effectively kill or sterilize all insect species across all commodities would make PI more accessible and cost effective. A generic radiation dose of 400 Gy for all pests except butterflies/ moths has been proposed, but there is a roadblock to this generic dose. Perishable produce is often stored in controlled or modified atmospheres for shipping because changing the O2 and CO2 content of the packaging surrounding a commodity can maintain food quality and shelf life. The recommended atmosphere for storage must be tuned to each commodity, but most modified or controlled atmospheres have O2 content lower than room air and CO2 content that is much higher. Many products treated by phytosanitary irradiation, from blueberries to guavas, are irradiated under modified atmospheric conditions. Limited previous research has shown that insect pests irradiated in anoxia (0 kPa O2) can have increased radiation resistance, specifically displaying greater survival and fertility. However, those previous studies focused on only comparing extreme atmospheric differences like anoxia vs. normoxia (21 kPa O2). Whereas little has been done with regard to the intermediate concentrations of O2 and CO2 most likely to be found in commodity packaging. Our goal is to determine whether the efficacy of irradiation to kill or sterilize insects is impacted at intermediate levels of O2 relevant to packaged commodities. Specifically, we will test whether irradiation under a range of O2 (0-21 kPa) concentrations that reflect the breadth of atmospheres used in commercial packaging lead to increases in the minimum doses needed to kill or reproductively sterilize pupae of the cabbage looper moth, Tricoplusia ni, a serious crop pest.