David J. Boethel, ESA Fellow (2010)


Dr. David J. Boethel, vice chancellor for research at the Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter and director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station (LAES), was elected as Fellow in 2010. He was acknowledged not only for his contributions to soybean pest management research, but his administrative and teaching accomplishments.

Boethel was born in 1946 and grew up in Weimar, Texas. He earned his bachelors and masters of science from Texas A&M University and in 1974, a Ph.D. in entomology from Oklahoma State University. From there he migrated east to Louisiana, joining the Louisiana State University (LSU) Pecan Research and Extension Station, working on integrated pest management (IPM) of pecan insects. In 1980, he joined the entomology faculty at LSU, teaching courses in biological control and conducting research in soybean. He moved into administration in 1997 as assistant director of the LSU Agricultural Experiment Station (AES), was promoted in 2001 to associate director of AES and associate vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter, and appointed as director of AES and vice chancellor in 2004. He retired in 2011 after a 36-year career that included serving as chair of the Southern Association of AES Directors (SAAESD), chair of the ESCOP (Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy) Budget and Legislative Committee, and as administrative advisor of the soybean entomology project.

IPM was the guiding thread of Boethel's research career, working to understand the role of multiple pest complexes and bringing together the tools and people to reduce pesticide use in soybean. This work was recognized in the 2009 ESCOP National Excellence in Multi-State Research Award. He also provided administrative leadership to halt the spread of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus, and red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, as well as increase mosquito abatement efforts to combat the spread of West Nile virus.  He mentored 20 graduate students, published more than 100 scientific papers, and edited three books, including the inaugural handbook of the ESA pest series, Handbook of Soybean Insect Pests

Boethel's greatest contributions were recognized for his administrative ability to promote and establish visionary institutional structures to support sustainable research programs, even in a climate of declining state and federal revenues. He helped establish the Louisiana Institute for Biofuels and Bioprocessing in 2009, which partnered scientists and industry in an effort to develop sustainable production, management, and harvest methods for biofuel crops in the southern region. He also directed the LSU AgCenter's Intellectual Property Office, creating royalty income that supports further research endeavors. Boethel's leadership efforts were recognized by the SAAESD in their 2010 Excellence in Leadership Award.

An ESA member since 1968, Boethel has served the Southeastern Branch as program chair, president, and ESA Governing Board representative. He has also served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Economic Entomology and Journal of Medical Entomology. Boethel and his wife, Elizabeth (Betty), were married in 1968 and have two children, Carl and Ann.

(updated, November 2015)