Dr. Sunday Ekesi, ESA Fellow (2021)

Sunday Ekesi

Dr. Sunday Ekesi is an entomologist, research for development (R4D) scientist, and leader with extensive knowledge and experience in sustainable agriculture and biodiversity in Africa and internationally. His dedication and innovation in this field have been successful at multiple levels, transforming and facilitating growth in the horticulture industry, biopesticide use, controlling invasive and migrant pests, utilizing insects for food and feed, resource mobilization, improving food and nutrition security, and empowering and networking people to improve their well-being. 

Ekesi was born in Gboko, Nigeria, in 1967. He received his B.S. in zoology in 1989 from University of Jos, Nigeria, and M.S. in applied entomology and parasitology from the same university in 1992. He obtained his Ph.D. in crop protection from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Nigeria, in 1999. Ekesi began his career in entomology as lecturer at ABU in 1992 in the Department of Crop Protection. In 1999, he joined the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Nairobi, Kenya, as a postdoctoral fellow. In 2003 he moved to Rothamsted Research, UK, as an international fellow. He returned to icipe in 2004 as a research scientist and later became the head, plant health theme (2005-2011, 2013-2018). He is currently the director of research and partnerships (2016-present) at icipe and a member of the Senior Management Committee. 

As director of research and partnerships, Ekesi manages and provides science governance and leadership on high-level strategic research goals of the institution. He has been leading a continent-wide initiative to manage fruit flies in Africa. Ekesi and his team have successfully developed pre- and post-harvest management methods for fruit flies that meet the demands of domestic and quarantine-sensitive export markets and increase net income of smallholder farmers. He has developed several biopesticides for use in IPM. Most recently, he has been working in the field of utilizing insects as alternative sources of protein for food and feed, leading to the development of standards for commercial insect products.  

He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and given over 150 presentations at scientific gatherings. Ekesi has mentored 17 Ph.D. and M.S. students and seven postdoctoral fellows. He has won over 48 funded proposals (more than U.S. $53 million). He is an enthusiastic member of ESA, Society for Invertebrate Pathology, and African Association of Insect Scientists. He is a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America (FESA), Royal Entomological Society (FRES)-UK, and African Academy of Sciences (FAAS) and has won several awards. He serves on several advisory boards including the 1890 Universities Center of Excellence for Global Food Security and Defense, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Australia GRDC Fall Armyworm Preparedness and Control International Liaison Group; FAO Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control; and USAID Virginia Tech IPM Innovation Lab, among others. He provides advisory services to several African governments, IAEA, and FAO, on various programs on agriculture, health, biodiversity, and climate change. 

Ekesi has been married to his wife, Ruth, for more than 22 years, and they are the parents of three children (Gabriel, Faith, and Elvina).