In Memoriam: Dan Gerling (1936–2016)

The whole entomological community, especially all scientists working worldwide with whiteflies and whitefly related aspects, mourns the very sad loss of Prof Dan Gerling, Emeritus Professor of Entomology at Tel Aviv University (Israel), who passed away on 26th March 2016 at the age of 79 after a short period of illness. He will be remembered for his inexhaustible energy and warm enthusiasm that he always transmitted to all who had the good fortune to know him personally and work side by side with him.

Dan Gerling was born October 10, 1936. He obtained his BSc degree in 1959 from the Faculty of Agriculture of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and his PhD in Entomology from the University of California – Berkeley and Riverside – in 1965.

Following one year in the Dry Land Research Institute at the University of California in Riverside, he joined the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University. He retired as a Professor Emeritus in 2003, and was constantly active academically, as well as being an adjunct curator of whiteflies at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History and National Research Center. During his long career as a teacher, he taught courses in evolution, general entomology, insect physiology, parasitoid biology and pest management, growing and educating many generations of students.

His studies focused around the ecology and behavior of insects, with special reference to whiteflies and their natural enemies. His research aimed at deepening our knowledge on their relationships, improving our possibilities for biological control of whiteflies in agricultural fields. Mainly around these topics, he authored over 130 scientific articles and book chapters and is editor of two books.

During his career, Dan Gerling served as a visiting professor in numerous academic institutions including the Universities of California, Georgia and Hawaii (USA), the Simon Frazer University in British Columbia (Canada), the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), the Makerere University (Uganda), the Beijing Normal University (China), the Union Academy of Sciences in Leningrad (Russia), the USDA research laboratories for Bio Control (in Beltsville, Maryland) and for Western Cotton Research (in Phoenix, Arizona). He has also acted as a consultant for biological control of insects and pest management in the frame of many food security-oriented projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

In the minds and hearts of all of us, indelible memories will remain of the enthusiasm always shown by Dan Gerling in organizing and promoting the international community studying whiteflies and whitefly related problems. In Israel (in Shoresh, in October 1994), Dan organized the “International Workshop on Bemisia tabaci,” sponsored by the United States – Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD); this represented the first in a series of fortunate and scientifically interesting meetings of scholars from around the world who are doing research on one of the main global agricultural pests. Recently during the 4th European Whitefly Symposium organized by Dan Gerling in Rehovot (Israel) in September 2011, the series of “International Bemisia Workshops” has merged with the parallel series of “European Whitefly Symposiums,” to give life to the new series of meetings known as “International Whitefly Symposiums,” which just recently, in February 2016, came to the second edition, with a meeting in Arusha (Tanzania), and will see in 2018 its third occasion of meeting in Perth, Western Australia.

At the meeting in Tanzania, Dan should have been invited speaker in the session “Whitefly Control” and presenter of some other scientific contributions; but the beginning of his serious illness forced him to not join his friends and colleagues in that occasion and his friend Rami Horowitz delivered his presentation.

Dan will leave a lasting impression and a huge hole for the unique human traits of his character, which made him an exemplary educator. He was a great man, who had a great influence and impact on the work of many young scientists worldwide, with a unique spirit of collaborating researcher that made him down to earth and he spent time talking with junior workers and students. Our scientific community will never forget his deep and genuine friendship that, in the course of his active life, Dan has managed to create with all of us. We all keep alive the memory of his enthusiasm and indomitable desire to know. His tireless activity as a teacher and researcher, that he brought forward until the forces and life have abandoned him, will be for all of us a very strong and long lasting example.

Together with our deepest condolences to his family and relatives, with sadness and deep emotion we express our greetings and our grateful "bye" to Dan, for the long journey that now he just started to a really special place, where we are sure he is now living the joy of collecting and studying whiteflies and whitefly parasitoids of unusual beauty and uniqueness.
On behalf of Dan’s colleagues and friends from the international whitefly community,

Dr Paul De Barro
Senior Principal Research Scientist
Research Director, Risk Evaluation and Preparedness Program
CSIRO Health and Biosecurity
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Dr Laura Boykin
TED Fellow
School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
ARC CoE Plant Energy Biology
The University of Western Australia
Crawley, Western Australia, Australia
Gregory A. Evans
Prof Carmelo Rapisarda
Full Professor of General and Applied Entomology
Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Alimentazione e Ambiente (Di3A)
Sezione di Entomologia applicate
Catania, Italy