Lowell R. Nault, ESA Fellow (1995)

Dr. Lowell R. “Skip” Nault, professor emeritus at The Ohio State University (OSU), was elected as Fellow in 1995. Nault is internationally known for his work with insect and mite vectors of plant viruses and mollicutes, especially those infecting maize.

Nault was born in San Francisco, CA on 4 April 1940. Nault’s fascination with insects began as a 4-H student where he collected insects near his home in Marin County, CA. He attended the College of Marin before transferring to the University of California, Davis, where he earned his B.S., graduating with honors in entomology and parasitology in 1962. Nault earned his M.S. in 1964 and Ph.D. in 1966 majoring in entomology and minoring in plant pathology at Cornell University.

Nault spent his entire professional career, beginning in 1966, on the Wooster campus of OSU as a faculty member in the Department of Entomology as well as a faculty member in the Department of Plant Pathology. At OSU he served as associate chair of the Department of Entomology, as associate director and interim director of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and associate vice president for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences before retiring in 2002.

His research and that of his OSU faculty and USDA colleagues, graduate students and post-docs most often focused on vector behavior and biology.  He took the lead in discovering some of the world’s most damaging arthropod-borne maize pathogens, identifying their vectors and modes of transmission.  These studies helped form more effective tools for managing diseases of maize, especially in the U.S corn belt and Latin America.  His interest in vectors took him far a-field, from the discovery and identification of aphid alarm pheromones to his landmark studies on the evolutionary biology of neo-tropical leafhopper species that specialize on maize and their wild relatives and putative ancestors.  These studies have contributed to a better understanding of the evolution and domestication of maize.

Nault received many honors, including ESA Honorary Member, and election as a Fellow of the American the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Phytopathological Society and the Royal Entomological Society of London.  The received the ESA J.E. Bussart Memorial Award and the C.V. Riley Achievement Award.  He was also recognized by the USDA for his leadership in the early days of the competitive research grants program in insect sciences. 

Nault’s service to the ESA included chairing Section C, serving twice as Chair of the Publications Council, as a member of the Governing Board, and as President of the Society in 1991. His tenure as President heralded the beginning of the Entomological Foundation, the Board of Certified Entomologists. Noteworthy was his leadership in transforming the outdated Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America to today’s American Entomologist, the keystone publication of the ESA.

Since retiring, Nault has pursued his passion for fly fishing and fly tying. He is past president of the Clear Fork River Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) and officer in the Buckeye State council of TU. He loves teaching fly fishing and fly tying to novice anglers.  He spearheaded the establishment of a new trout fishery in Ohio’s Apple 

Skip married Letty when they were graduate students at Cornell University.  They have two children, Brian who is a Professor in the Department of Entomology at Cornell’s AgriTech campus in Geneva, NY, and Julie, who teaches Spanish in Bend, Oregon.

(updated August 2023)