2021 International Branch Award Winners

Distinguished Scientist Award
Sunday Ekesi
is an entomologist and Director of Research and Partnerships at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Nairobi, Kenya. He received his M.S. in Applied Entomology and Parasitology from University of Jos, Nigeria in 1992. He obtained his Ph.D. in Crop Protection from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria in 1999. His dedication and innovations in the field of food and nutrition security have been successful at multiple levels transforming and facilitating growth in the horticulture industry, biopesticide use, controlling invasive and migrant pests, and utilizing insects for food and feed. He has published >250 peer-reviewed articles. He is a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, Royal Entomological Society UK, and African Academy of Sciences. He serves in several advisory boards including the 1890 Universities Center of Excellence for Global Food Security and Defense, Global Action for Fall armyworm control and Virginia Tech IPM Innovation Lab.

Early Career Research & Leadership Award -
Dr. Jessica Gillung is an Assistant Professor at McGill University, Canada. She joined the Department of Natural Resource Sciences in January 2020, where she also serves as the Director of the Lyman Entomological Museum, one of the largest insect collections in Canada. Jessica completed her PhD in December 2018 at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis, studying the evolution and taxonomy of parasitoid flies specialized in spiders. She subsequently worked as a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell University, where she focused on the evolution and diversification of aculeate Hymenoptera (stinging wasps, ants, and bees). Her research combines field work, morphology, DNA sequence data, bioinformatics, and comparative methods to reconstruct the evolution of insects and elucidate their patterns of diversification, encompassing multiple taxonomic rankings, from species to higher level relationships. This integrative approach also seeks to understand how biotic and abiotic factors have shaped and influenced patterns of insect biodiversity.

John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award
Dr. Ramandeep Kaur Sandhi received her PhD in entomology from Montana State University in 2020 under the direction of Dr. Gadi V. P. Reddy and Dr. Michael A. Ivie. Her PhD dissertation was focused on exploring the potential of commercial and Montana native entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) against wireworm complex in cereal crops in Montana. She earned her BS and MS in entomology from Punjab Agricultural University, India. Her MS thesis project was focused on evaluation of okra germplasm for morphological and biochemical resistance towards cotton jassid. Raman is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University in Dr. Brian Nault’s program, where she is studying the biology and ecology of, and exploring different management strategies for a new invasive pest, Allium leafminer. Additionally, she is evaluating different persistent EPN species against Colorado potato beetle in potatoes. So far, she has published 10 peer-reviewed papers (8 first author) and 6 extension articles. Raman has been involved in the ESA since 2017 by participating in oral and poster sessions, volunteering in student activities, and working as a reviewer for various ESA journals. Raman is representing the International Branch on Student Affairs Committee (SAC) since 2020 and serving as vice-chair ESA SAC, promoting student members’ participation in student debates, symposia, annual receptions, and writing blog articles. She is looking forward to serving as the chair ESA SAC in 2021. She is also a member of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at Cornell AgriTech. Raman’s long term career goal is to continue research and utilize her research and leadership experience in an academic/industry position to effectively address the growing needs of farmers.