Dr. Richard Merritt, ESA Fellow (2022)

Dr. Richard Merritt, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University (MSU), was elected as Fellow in 2022. Merritt's research over his career involved population dynamics, feeding ecology, and influence of environmental factors on immature aquatic insects. Major efforts were directed toward the following projects: 1) filter-feeding ecology of aquatic insects (mainly black flies and mosquitoes); 2) forensic entomology, primarily determining the postmortem interval in death investigations (Diptera); 3) leaf litter processing and biomonitoring in lotic ecosystems; 4) effects of marine-derived nutrients on aquatic insects in Alaska; and 5) ecology of a neglected infectious tropical disease (Buruli Ulcer) in Africa involving insects.

Merritt was born in San Francisco, California, and grew up in the Bay Area. He received his B.S. in biology at San Jose State University, then obtained his M.S. in entomology at Washington State University under M.T. James. He accepted an NIH traineeship at the University of California, Berkeley, and completed his Ph.D. in medical/veterinary entomology under J.R. Anderson. He took an assistant professor position at MSU in 1974.

Merritt was department chair of entomology, MSU, from 2002 to 2008. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Entomology and a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). He has published more than 250 scientific articles and co-edited five editions of the textbook An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America, as well as a book titled Black Flies: Ecology, Population Management, and Annotated World List. He has served as associate editor for three journals, The American Midland Naturalist, Freshwater Invertebrate Biology, and Journal of Medical Entomology. Merritt taught two main courses, one in aquatic entomology and the other in forensic entomology, as well as courses in biomonitoring of streams and rivers and insect ecology on occasion. He received the MSU Distinguished Faculty Award in 2004 and received a Fulbright Scholar Award in 1986. He spent a sabbatical in London, England, where he was made an Honorary Research Fellow at University College, London. He received the Award of Excellence from the Society of Freshwater Science in 2007 and was made an Inaugural SFS Honorary Fellow in 2017. In 2011, he was awarded the title of MSU University Distinguished Professor. He is a Fellow of AAFS and received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. He was recently (2021) recognized as one of the Legends in Entomology by ESA. He mentored more than 40 graduate students and three postdocs. He is still an avid fisherman and racquetball player.

He is married to his wife, Pamela, with whom he has two sons and three granddaughters. His son, Brett, obtained his Ph.D. at MSU in science education and teaches at the American School in Switzerland with his wife, Kelly. His son, Scott, who along with his wife, Hailey, lives in Atlanta, is head of automation for Northwest Mutual Life Insurance Company.