ESA Founders' Memorial Award

Dr. Anthony A. James, a distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine, delivered the Founders’ Memorial Award lecture at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology (ICE 2016) during the ESA Opening Session on Sunday September 25, 2016.

The subject of Dr. James’ lecture was Dr. Edward F. Knipling, winner of the World Food Prize (1992), the Japan Prize (1995), the FAO Medal for Agricultural Science (1991), the President’s National Medal of Science (1967), and many other awards. Dr. Knipling is internationally recognized for the development of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), which has been widely applied for eradication of exotic insect species. SIT was instrumental in the eradication of the screwworm, a serious pest of cattle and other livestock, and is used today to control insect pests such as the Mediterranean fruit fly.

Dr. James takes a similar approach for insect control, but instead of using SIT, he relies on more modern methods. He is the international leader among those using molecular genetic approaches to control the transmission of vector-borne diseases. His work has resulted in the creation of strains of mosquitoes that are incapable of transmitting two of the most devastating human diseases, malaria and dengue fever.

Dr. James is now preparing to apply this translational research to disease-affected areas in developing countries. His goals are to suppress vector populations and therefore reduce encounters between humans and mosquitoes, and to make mosquitoes incapable of transmitting pathogens.

“If Edward Knipling was alive today and was asked who would be the best researcher to tell his story, I’m convinced that he would pick Tony James,” said Fred Gould, University Distinguished Professor at North Carolina State University. “Tony will do a great job of telling Knipling’s story and of showing ESA members how the field of genetic pest management has matured from the early days into the start of the 21st Century.”

“Dr. Knipling’s contribution to our discipline by developing the Sterile Insect Technique is truly outstanding and deserves to be honored in this way,” said Dr. David Denlinger, distinguished University professor at Ohio State University. “I would rank the development of this technique as one of the major accomplishments in the field of entomology in the past century, and Dr. James’ ground-breaking experiments in developing transgenic mosquitoes is indeed the next generation or iteration of Knipling’s Sterile Insect Technique.”

“The selection of Dr. James to honor Dr. Knipling is especially fitting for the theme of the 2016 International Congress of Entomology — “Entomology Without Borders” — in two ways,” said Dr. Bruce Tabashnik, Regents’ Professor and head of the University of Arizona’s Department of Entomology. “First, although Dr. James works in the U.S., his work aims to control mosquitoes far beyond U.S. borders, especially in Africa. Second, as the son of an African-American father and an Irish-American mother, his own origins transcend racial and national boundaries.”

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