Stanley D. Beck, ESA Fellow (1991)
Dr. Stanley D. Beck (deceased 8 July 1997), emeritus professor of entomology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UWM), was elected as Fellow in 1991. He was well known for his work in host plant resistance with lepidopteran pests of corn and understanding how circadian rhythms and photoperiodicity affect insect development and diapause. He has been described as the last of the "Renaissance insect physiologists."
Born 17 October 1919 in Portland, Oregon, Beck grew up in Washington near Mt. Ranier, taking advantage of nearby hiking and fishing. A high school biology course initially sparked his interest in entomology, ultimately directing him towards a bachelor's at Washington State University in 1942. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Navy on a minesweeper during WWII. Beck became a research assistant at the UWM in 1946 and instructor from 1948–1950 while finishing his Ph.D. in zoology. Two years after he was appointed as an assistant professor of entomology, Beck was stricken with polio in 1952, which would confine him to a wheelchair for the next 45 years and restrict the mobility of his body, but not his mind nor his spirit. Beck remained at UWM until he retired in 1989.
Beck taught courses in histology and physiology of insects throughout his long career and not only encouraged his students to think critically, but provided the structure in his courses and mentoring to foster it. Beck's research examined the relationships between plant hosts and their herbivore chemical defenses and the feeding behavior, nutritional and developmental requirements of the insects that fed on these plants. His findings led to improvements in plant breeding for resistance against corn pests such as the European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis. His work developing artificial diets for lepidopteran pests paved the way for not only for mass rearing but the ability to test specific components of a diet in bioassays. His research on the effect of day length on insect development demonstrated the existence of geographical populations, which helped explain local differences in behavior and development. Beck contributed to 138 research papers as well as numerous books, monographs, and reviews.
Beck served in the leadership of ESA Section B (Physiology and Biochemistry) from 1973–1975 and represented the Section on the ESA Governing Board from 1976–1978. He was elected ESA President in 1982, thus returning to the Governing Board from 1981–1983. He received the 1962 ESA Founders' Memorial Award honoring S.A. Forbes, and in 1999 Beck was chosen as the honoree in a Memorial lecture given by David Denlinger. Also in 1999, the ESA Foundation established a fellowship in Beck's honor to benefit disabled students. Among his numerous other awards and honors, Beck became a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1964 and in 1988, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
A close-knit and supportive family surrounded Beck, including his wife Isabel and one son and three daughters. Beck enjoyed reading, music, plays, traveling, games, and theological discussions.
(updated, June 2015)