Michael R. Kanost, ESA Fellow (2015)

Dr. Michael R. Kanost, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Kansas State University, was elected as Fellow in 2015. He is internationally known for his research in biochemistry and immunology of insects.

Kanost was born in 1956 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and moved with his family at the age of 12, to Broomfield, Colorado. He received a B.S. with majors in zoology and entomology from Colorado State University in 1979. He earned a Ph.D. in entomology from Purdue University in 1983, mentored by Dr. Peter Dunn, he investigated synthesis of hemolymph antibacterial proteins stimulated by bacterial infection in Manduca sexta. From 1983–1986, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, working with Dr. G.R. Wyatt on the regulation of hemolymph protein synthesis by juvenile hormone. He subsequently moved to the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Arizona, working with the late Dr. Michael Wells at an exciting time: the beginning of the Center for Insect Science. He was a Research Associate (1986–1989) and then Research Assistant Professor (1989–1991) at Arizona, investigating the biochemistry of lipophorin and then beginning a study of serpins in insect hemolymph, which has continued for 25 years. In 1991, Kanost became Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Kansas State University, and promoted to University Distinguished Professor in 2005. He served as head of the Department from 2002–2012.

Kanost served as major professor for 23 Ph.D. and M.S. students and as research mentor for 19 postdoctoral scientists and 42 undergraduate students. He taught numerous biochemistry courses, including many offerings of Advanced Topics in Insect Biochemistry. He authored more than 180 journal articles and book chapters, and his publications have been cited more than 10,000 times. Kanost’s research has focused on functions of hemolymph plasma proteins and hemocytes in immune responses, biochemistry of insect exoskeletons, and functions of insect muticopper oxidases. He helped lead the sequencing and annotation of the genome of Manduca sexta, an important model species for insect research. His research on caterpillars, mosquitoes, and beetles has been supported with more than $17 million in grants from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and others. He received a MERIT Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in 2011 in recognition of the track record of productivity, creativity, and impact of his research.

Kanost is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he has received awards including the ESA Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology (2007), Purdue University College of Agriculture Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award (2008), University of Kansas Olin K. Petefish Award in the Basic Sciences (2011), and the Purdue University John V. Osmun Alumni Professional Achievement Award in Entomology (2015).

Kanost and his wife Jill have been married since 1977 and have four children. Kanost plays the cello in the Salina (Kansas) Symphony, and he enjoys growing tomatoes.

(updated November, 2016)