Pushed out of the comfort zone

Senior Cleveland Ivey is out to save the ecosystem, one fungus at a time

Sep. 3, 2018

Spend a few moments with Cleveland Ivey, and he will have you believing that the “application of Beauveria bassiana for protecting maize against the maize weevil” is the most important topic on Earth. In everyday language, that means that he is exploring how a certain fungus can be used to kill a bug that destroys corn. The senior plant science major is very interested in insects and their impact on the ecosystem, and has devoted much of his undergraduate years towards the study of how plants and insects interact. He’s participated in and presented research which helps to show that pests can be controlled at a lower cost and with fewer chemicals, reducing risks to human health and helping farmers in poorer countries be more productive. For Ivey, it’s all about the big picture. He believes studying insects has application in everything from preventing diseases to solving crimes.

“It’s important economically, it’s important globally, and most importantly, it is helpful for our health as humans,” he says. Researchers are master collaborators, and Ivey has particularly enjoyed the networking his FVSU education has afforded him. “I’ve been blessed to go out to different states and conferences and meet all sorts of people, who may not be studying the same thing, but become lifelong friends,” he says. Naturally an introvert, working with other researchers has helped him become more outgoing. “It pushed me out of my comfort zone,” he says.

Fort Valley State University is a family tradition in the Ivey household. His mother and father met while students at FVSU, and he participated in agricultural economics research on the campus before he was even old enough to enroll. Once officially a student, he joined the Beta Kappa Chi National Scientific Honor Society and the jazz and marching bands, and worked in the university’s entomology laboratory and at the USDA Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Station. He has also volunteered for the annual health and field day which exposes children to agriculture.

Ivey feels that FVSU has prepared him for anything. “The institution has instilled in me more than enough of the knowledge and experience needed to go out and excel,” he says. “The campus itself is like somewhat of a blended family. Not everyone is the same, and in that aspect I have been exposed to people from all walks of life. I feel confident that I can go anywhere and adapt to the
environment.”

“The students really want to succeed here, and I really love that,” he added.