George B. Craig, ESA Fellow (1986)

Dr. George B. Craig (deceased 21 December 1995), a Clark distinguished professor in biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, was elected as Fellow in 1986. He earned national and international recognition for his research on the biology and control of mosquitos, especially the genus Aedes. He is credited with changing the face of vector biology.

Craig was born on 8 July 1930 and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended the University of Chicago Laboratory School. He graduated from the University of Indiana in 1951 with a B.A. in zoology, where an introductory course in entomology steered him away from becoming a physician. He received his M.S. in 1952 and Ph.D. in 1956 in entomology at the University of Illinois, under the mentorship of William Horsfall (ESA Fellow 1943). While earning his Ph.D., he served as a first lieutenant with the U.S. Army Preventative Medicine Detachment at Fort Meade, Maryland and as a research entomologist with the U.S. Army Chemical Center from 1954–1957. He joined the biology faculty at Notre Dame in 1957 and would become director of its Vector Biology Laboratory. From 1969–1976, Craig spent more of his time in field research on Aedes aegypti as a scientific advisor and research faculty member at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya.

As a graduate student, Craig discovered the unique sculpturing of the chorion ofAedes eggs could be utilized to distinguish species at this early stage of development when collecting eggs from soil samples, ultimately aiding in control programs. Among his many accomplishments during his 38 years at Notre Dame, Craig used Ae. aegypti to discover the genetic basis of traits central to disease transmission and control of this important vector of yellow fever. It became the Drosophila of the mosquito world. By the late 1960s, his research focused on understanding the reproductive physiology of mosquitoes. His findings concluded that specific hormones are directly involved in the sexual receptivity of female mosquitoes and that the mosquito neural system dictates blood quantity intake. In the mid-1980s, he expanded his research to include the invasive Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. His overall research in the genus Aedes provided profound insight into mapping a multitude of genetic traits to corresponding chromosome locations and utilizing this information to develop insecticide-free genetic control measures for public health programs.

Craig authored or co-authored 182 scientific publications, advised 40 graduate students and 39 postdoctoral fellows, and mentored numerous undergraduate honors students. He became a charter member of the Indiana Vector Control Association in 1976. In 1983, he was the first Notre Dame faculty member elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He was elected president of the American Mosquito Control Association in 1988. Dr. Craig would often express to his colleagues that his most cherished accomplishment was being the first recipient of the ESA Distinguished Teaching Award in 1975. 

Craig was married to Elizabeth (Pflum) Craig and had three daughters and a son.

(updated February, 2015)