Eddie Cupp, ESA Fellow 1998

Dr. Eddie W. Cupp, a professor emeritus at Auburn University, was elected as Fellow in 1998. He is a medical entomologist who is internationally known for work in vector biology and tropical public health. 

Cupp was born 17 April 1941, in Harlan County, KY.  He graduated from Murray State University in 1964 with a B.A. degree in biology and history. After working briefly with the Tennessee Valley Authority, he began graduate study in 1965 at the University of Illinois, receiving a Ph.D. degree in entomology in 1969.  He did postdoctoral research in the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 1970–1971 and served on the faculties of the University of Southern Mississippi (assistant professor, 1971–1974), Cornell University (assistant to full professor,1974–1988), University of Arizona (full professor, 1988–1995), and Auburn University (full professor, 1995–2006).   

Cupp’s research in Liberia and Guatemala determining the impact of ivermectin drug treatment on transmission and epidemiology of human onchocerciasis (“river blindness”) lead to the elimination of that disease throughout most of Latin America and foci in several African countries. He and his students were the first to colonize black flies (Simulium spp.) on a continuous mass scale, a major breakthrough in the early 1980s that revolutionized parasitological, genetic, physiological, virological, and molecular studies of this group of insects. The Simulium vittatum colony, which has continued uninterrupted for more than 30 years, is currently being used as the type species for Simulium genome sequencing.  Cupp’s findings also contributed to understanding the role of mosquitoes in maintaining and transmitting viruses that cause Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, and West Nile encephalitis.         

Cupp is the author or co-author of over 150 publications, including a comprehensive text and reference in clinical parasitology, which was a standard used globally. His research has been featured in the science section of The New York Times, on CNN, and PBS, and was used by the late Ann Landers in her national column. He was elected Councilor of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (1992–1996) and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1999, the same year he was named a recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences of the University of Illinois (the first entomology graduate to receive this award). In 2000, he received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Murray State University. He was named recipient of the 2004 Director’s Research Award by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and received the Merck Mectizan award in 2009 for his “remarkable contributions to the control and elimination of onchocerciasis,” the first entomologist to receive this recognition.

Dr. Cupp is married to Dr. Mary S. Cupp and is the father of two daughters. While retired, he served as a senior advisor to the Mectizan Expert Committee and chaired the Program Coordinating Committee of the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas for seven years. He enjoys reading, doing yard work, and fly-fishing.

(updated November, 2012)