Billy R. Wiseman, ESA Fellow (1994)


Dr. Billy R. Wiseman, a retired research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Insect Biology & Population Management Research Laboratory in Tifton, GA, was elected as Fellow in 1994. He is an internationally known authority on plant resistance to insects, particularly the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, and corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea, in corn and sorghum midge, Contarinia sorghicola in sorghum.

Wiseman was born on 28 March 1937 in Bailey County, Texas, growing up on a cotton and grain sorghum farm.  After graduating as valedictorian of his class in 1955, he entered Texas Tech University, receiving his B.S. in 1959, majoring in agricultural education and minoring in entomology.  He received his M.S. in 1961 from Kansas State University (KSU) in horticulture and entomology under Drs. Charles Hall and Reginald Painter, the father of plant resistance to insects.  That year, he received a presidential direct commission as a medical entomologist and spent the next three years in the Womack Army Hospital's Preventative Medicine Section at Fort Bragg, NC. He returned to KSU to finish his Ph.D. in entomology in 1966. Wiseman began his career with USDA-ARS in 1967 in Stillwater, OK and completed his service of 34+ years in Tifton, working in plant resistance to insects.

Wiseman held adjunct appointments at both the Universities of Georgia and Florida and worked in collaboration with over 110 scientists during his career.  He directed or served on numerous M.S. and Ph.D. committees, and for 17 years he taught two graduate level courses in plant resistance to insects during the winter quarter in the Department of Entomology at the University of Florida. Wiseman and co-workers developed, released and registered over 80 germplasm lines with resistance to the corn earworm, fall armyworm, or the sorghum midge.  He developed many innovative techniques for use in studies of plant resistance to insects and found the chemical and genetic basis of resistance in corn silks to the corn earworm and the chemical basis of resistance in centipede grass to the fall armyworm. Wiseman and co-workers demonstrated in a number of cases that plant resistance was a compatible component of other forms of IPM, and demonstrated late in his career the use of transgenic corn lines for control of the corn earworm and fall armyworm.

Wiseman authored or co-authored over 300 refereed scientific papers, book chapters, review articles and bibliographies and 65 abstract articles. He was invited to present over 50 invitational presentations and over 75 papers at scientific meetings. Wiseman has been an active member of ESA since 1964, a Board Certified Entomologist, and served the Society as Chair of the Membership Committee, President of the Southeastern Branch, SEB Governing Board representative, and on numerous committee assignments for ESA.  He was elected as Honorary Member in 1999.

In 1963, Wiseman married Gladys Striegler, a nurse at Fort Bragg.  They had two children, William Samuel Wiseman II, who was born the day his father completed his Ph.D. orals, and two years later, Amy Lucretia Wiseman. 

(updated April, 2015)