Dr. Letourneau's research includes biological control in traditional intercropping schemes in Mexico and Malawi; ant-plant mutualisms in Costa Rica and Borneo; and the effects of crop management schemes and landscape vegetation on pests and natural enemies of those pests in farmers fields of California's San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast. She has conducted meta-analyses on the effects of crop, vegetation and natural enemy diversity in agriculture. Recent field research involves the effects of anaerobic soil disinfection techniques and intercropping schemes on the survivorship of cabbage maggot in cole crops and the effects of exotic plants on arthropod diversity in the redwood forests, both in habitats of the Central Coast of CA.
She favors collaborative and on-farm research, believing that complex questions are best answered from the perspective of multiple disciplines and experiences in an atmosphere of mutual respect. This work with colleagues, growers, and students sparks exciting intellectual challenges on engaging questions with practical value for sustaining both livelihoods and the environment.
Interdisciplinary studies and efforts include:
- a new chapter with geographer and political economist Margaret Fitzsimmons and entomologist Diego Nieto on the social and historical forces that determine limits to the implementation of Integrated Pest Management in California for the forthcoming book "Pest Management within the Environment: Challenges for Agronomists, Ecologists, Economists and Policymakers" edited by Coll M. & E. Wajnberg.
- a paper with science and society scholar and environmental historian S. Ravi Rajan using risk theory and 'natural accidents' concepts to explain the risks of transgenic crops
- a workshop presentation within the framework of emotional, political, and sensorial engagement with seeds and soil in agriculture and food security for anthropologists Nancy Chen and Birgit Muller
- completion of our diversity and inclusion certificate program at UCSC, with special interests in undergraduate education in STEM