Perry L. Adkisson, ESA Fellow (1984)

Dr. Perry L. Adkisson, (deceased June 25, 2020) Chancellor and Distinguished Professor emeritus of Texas A&M University (TAMU), was elected as Fellow in 1984. He is internationally known for his pioneering work in integrated pest management (IPM).

Adkisson was born in 1929 on a small cotton farm in Arkansas. With every intention of returning to the farm and becoming a plant breeder after earning his B.S. in agriculture from the University of Arkansas (UA), he would spend nearly two years after graduation in the Army during the Korean War. He returned to UA following his service for an M.S. in agronomy in 1954 with a major in plant breeding and a minor in entomology. He became increasingly interested in entomology with a summer job scouting cotton in 1953 and courses taken with Dwight Isley, one of the original entomologists interested in integrated crop protection. In less than two years, he finished his Ph.D. (1956) in entomology at Kansas State University. He joined the entomology department at TAMU in 1958, serving as department head from 1967–1978. Before being named chancellor (1986–1990), he would serve as deputy chancellor and vice president for agriculture and renewable resources in the TAMU System.

Although he is well known for developing the use of IPM along with Ray Smith, Harold Reynolds, Robert Van den Bosch, Adkisson considers his most significant achievement to be his research and implementation of diapause control in boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) in cotton. The development of this tactic prevented boll weevil's spread in the High Plains of Texas and led to its eradication in the U.S. He has written over 180 scholarly articles and delivered over 70 invited lectures both nationally and internationally. His formidable administrative talent was demonstrated in what came to be known as the Adkisson Project, an 18-university effort with the more official title, "The Development of Unified, Comprehensive, Economically and Environmentally Sound Integrated Pest Management Systems." It concentrated on only four cropping systems (apples, alfalfa, cotton, and soybeans) and brought together not only entomologists and plant pathologists, but weed scientists, nematologists, plant breeders, agronomists, economists, agricultural engineers, and ecologists targeting an holistic approach, using computer modeling and economic thresholds to approach each cropping system.

Adkisson was the first person to be honored with all three of the major world agricultural awards: Alexander von Humboldt Award (1980), Wolf Prize (1994), and the World Food Prize (1997). Adkisson is a past president of ESA (1974) and of the American Registry of Professional Entomologists. He credits his election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1979 to work he did as a postdoc with Carroll Williams at Harvard in 1962–1963. In 1998, he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Hall of Honor. In 1987, Adkisson was awarded the American Institute of Biological Sciences Distinguished Service Award for his use of scientifically sound methods to enhance the productive capacity of American agriculture.

Adkisson famously said, "An entomologist is a biologist with a job," a memorable recruiting tool for students at TAMU.

(updated May, 2015)