Sarjeet Gill, ESA Fellow (2015)

Dr. Sarjeet Gill, Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience and Entomologist in the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of California at Riverside, was elected as Fellow in 2015. He is known for his work in unraveling the mechanisms of toxicity and cell membrane transport of insecticidal toxins released by gram-positive bacteria to control lepidopteran pests in agriculture and mosquito disease vectors.

Gill was born in Taiping, Malaysia in 1946. He attended public schools in Malaysia, where he completed his A levels. In 1966 he proceeded to McGill University in Montreal, Canada to obtain his B.S. under a Colombo Plan Scholarship. Gill received his doctorate in insecticide toxicology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1973 and served as a tenured lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia from 1974–1980. He returned to California as an assistant research toxicologist at the University of California Riverside and Davis between 1980–82; was a faculty member of the Department of Physiology, Southern Illinois University (1982); and then joined the Department of Entomology faculty at the University of California at Riverside in 1983. He helped establish the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience and the Environmental Toxicology Graduate Program, serving as chair of the department and director of the program. He teaches an upper level undergraduate course in microbial pathogenesis and a core graduate class in mechanisms of toxicity, along with research seminars. Gill has mentored over 40 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and with them published over 160 papers. He is currently the editor of Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a premier journal in entomology, and he co-edited the series, Comprehensive Molecular Insect Science.

Gill’s research over the last three decades has focused on two areas. The first elucidates the mode of action of insecticidal toxins derived from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis. These toxins are active against agricultural pests and also vectors of human diseases. More recently his work also includes another gram-positive bacterium Clostridium bifermantans, which kills mosquitoes. Gill’s research includes the characterization of the toxins involved in these bacterial strains, and the research has provided a molecular understanding of how these toxins interact with their cellular targets, which results in disruption of ion regulation and induces lethal consequences. In a second area, Gill characterized transport processes that are critical in the midgut and Malpighian tubules of mosquitoes. This research has led to a greater understanding of ion and nutrient transport in these tissues, including changes that occur following a blood mealand how toxins affect these functions.

Gill became a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2003 and received the 2014 ESA Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology. He has served on numerous grant review panels, including the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Gill loves sports, playing cricket, field hockey, badminton and squash, and more recently, golf. He also loves to garden and travel with his wife, Lean.

(updated November, 2016)