Ralph H. Davidson, ESA Fellow (1943)

Dr. Ralph H. Davidson (deceased 13 January 1989), a professor at The Ohio State University (OSU), was elected as Fellow in 1943. Dr. Davidson was well known for his research in economic entomology, insect biology, insect control, and insecticide development. His research also involved leafhopper taxonomy and field entomology. He is the author of a widely used textbook: Insect Pests of Farm, Garden and Orchard.

Davidson was born in Vandalia, OH on 19 January 1908. He grew up on a farm where his early days were spent at school and tending to the corn, wheat, and Holstein dairy cows. His interest in entomology was mostly a product of working on the family farm and an interest in agricultural pests.

As a true buckeye, Davidson had his heart set on attending OSU after high school. Davidson earned a full scholarship for his undergraduate work at OSU and earned his B.S. in 1930 in the Department of Zoology and Entomology. During the summer after graduation, Davidson worked for the USDA Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine where he spent his time developing insecticide and biological control projects. In the fall, Davidson headed back to OSU to begin his graduate studies. He earned his M.S. in 1931 and his Ph.D. in 1935, both in the Department of Zoology and Entomology at OSU. His dissertation research focused on the toxicity of non-arsenic insecticides, such as ground derris root, to many common insect pests.

After graduating with his Ph.D., Davidson started working at OSU where he taught economic entomology classes. Davidson had a long career at OSU where he held many titles from teaching assistant (as a graduate student), to instructor, to full professor, and finally as emeritus professor in 1971 when he retired. He also taught various summer classes at OSU’s Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory, and as a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin, and Northern Arizona State University. Davidson served on the ESA Governing Board and as a member of ESA’s North Central Branch Executive Committee. He also served as chairman of the Joint Administrative Board of the Ohio Journal of Science, and as a past president of the Entomological Workers of Ohio and the Faculty Club at OSU.

Davidson is best known for his contributions to the biology and control of insects. During his research years, he published over 80 publications including his widely used textbook. Davidson is also respected and appreciated for his dedication to, and guidance of, graduate students. During his time at OSU, Davidson advised 32 Ph.D. students and 49 M.S. students. Davidson was honored for his teaching when he was awarded the Gamma Sigma Delta Teaching Award in the College of Food and Agriculture and Environmental Science in 1962. He was also named a fellow of the Ohio Academy of Science and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

(updated August, 2011)