Dr. David Shapiro-Ilan, ESA Fellow (2022)

Dr. David Shapiro-Ilan, research leader and supervisory research entomologist at USDA-ARS, Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Station in Byron, Georgia, was elected Fellow in 2022. He is internationally known for his work on invertebrate pathology and microbial control; he has focused his research primarily on entomopathogenic nematodes but has also studied entomopathogenic fungi extensively, as well as other pathogen groups.

Shapiro-Ilan was born in New York City and grew up in the Bronx. He received a B.S. in biology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (1984) and served in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa, conducting crop protection and rural development projects (1985-1987). Shapiro-Ilan obtained an M.S. in entomology from Louisiana State University (1989) studying under Jim Fuxa. In 1990, Shapiro-Ilan was a farm apprentice on a diverse organic farm near Viroqua, Wisconsin. He earned his Ph.D. in entomology from Iowa State University (1994) studying under Les Lewis. Shapiro-Ilan was a Fulbright postdoctoral scholar at the Volcani Center in Israel (1994-1996) in the lab of Itamar Glazer. Subsequently, he spent 2.5 years as a research insect pathologist with Integrated BioControl Systems Inc., and one year as an assistant in entomology at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center in Clay McCoy's lab. He joined USDA-ARS as a research entomologist in 2000 and became research leader in 2019.

Shapiro-Ilan's research has focused on fundamental and applied invertebrate pathology and microbial control. His work resulted in improved methods of strain development, production, formulation, and application of microbial control agents. Improved entomopathogenic nematode production methods include mechanization of in vivo approaches and developing technology to genetically stabilize entomopathogenic nematode strains. Strain discovery and applied entomopathogenic nematode field research has resulted in grower adoption in several commodities such as citrus, peach, and pecan. Formulation work has focused on protecting microbials from UV radiation. Basic research by Shapiro-Ilan has focused on foraging behavior of entomopathogenic nematodes and led to the discovery that nematodes move in groups like a pack of wolves. With university and industry partners, Shapiro-Ilan et al. are leveraging entomopathogenic nematode communication systems (pheromones) to enhance biocontrol efficacy. Also with industry partners, Shapiro-Ilan conducted the first biocontrol experiment in space by sending the entomopathogenic nematodes to the International Space Station.

Shapiro-Ilan has published 215 peer-reviewed journal articles plus 24 book chapters and more than 60 trade journal/extension articles. He has co-edited four books and is inventor on seven patents. Selected awards include Fellow of the Society of Nematologists, EEO/Civil Rights, Excellence in IPM (ESA Southeastern Branch), and more than $22 million as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on competitive grants. Shapiro-Ilan is an adjunct faculty member with Fort Valley State University and the University of Georgia. Selected professional service has included scientific quality review officer (USDA-ARS), subject editor for the Journal of Economic Entomology, and editor-in-chief for the Journal of Nematology; he currently serves as editor-in-chief for the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology.

Shapiro-Ilan's immediate family include wife Laura, sons Amitai and Teva, and Teva's wife, Rachel. Hobbies include camping and kayaking.