Michelle Samuel-Foo to Deliver 2020 ESA Founders’ Memorial Lecture

Lecture to honor Ernest J. Harris, USDA-Agricultural Research Service Hall of Fame scientist and Congressional Gold Medal recipient

Michelle Samuel-Foo, Ph.D.

Michelle Samuel-Foo, Ph.D.

Annapolis, MD; May 26, 2020—Michelle Samuel-Foo, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Alabama State University, has been selected to deliver the Founders’ Memorial Award lecture at Entomology 2020, the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA).

The Founders' Memorial Award was established in 1958 to honor the memory of scientists who made outstanding contributions to entomology. Each year at the ESA Annual Meeting, the recipient of the award delivers the Founders' Memorial Lecture, the topic of which is always a deceased entomologist.

At Entomology 2020, the subject of Dr. Samuel-Foo’s lecture will be Ernest J. Harris, Ph.D. (1928-2018), a distinguished entomologist internationally recognized for his work on fruit fly eradication and techniques for mass rearing of insects used for biological control. Dr. Harris’ work with the release of sterile Mediterranean fruit flies in California in the 1970s resulted in effective control of the pest. The technologies he helped develop have been key to eradicating invasive fruit flies in California, Florida, and other U.S. mainland states, as well as internationally. Dr. Harris authored hundreds of papers and was recognized with honors including a place in the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Hall of Fame and the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian awards in the United States.

Dr. Samuel-Foo is the sixth woman and the first black woman to be awarded the Founders’ Memorial Award. Dr. Harris will be the first black entomologist to be the subject of the Founders’ Memorial lecture in the award’s 63-year history.

Ernest J. Harris, Ph.D.

Ernest J. Harris, Ph.D.

Dr. Samuel-Foo’s position at Alabama State University focuses on teaching, research, and student mentoring. She leads the university’s initiative on industrial hemp research and was the recipient of a $596,000 grant in support of this initiative. Prior to joining ASU, she was a faculty member with the Institute of Food and Agriculture Services at the University of Florida. There, she served as the IR-4 Southern Region Coordinator, where she led efforts to procure chemical registrations for growers of specialty crops in 12 southern states and Puerto Rico. She also established and oversaw regional field research offices in four states and Puerto Rico. She received an official commendation from the IR-4 Southern Regional director in 2008 for outstanding service and leadership. She has also been honored with an NAACP Academic Image award and a North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture teaching award.

“The Entomology 2020 theme is ‘Entomology for All’ and Dr. Samuel-Foo’s nomination of Ernest J. Harris for this award profoundly personifies our theme,” says ESA President Alvin M. Simmons, Ph.D. “Dr. Harris was an inspiration for many minorities, and he made a significant impact on international entomology. We are grateful to Dr. Samuel-Foo for giving us the opportunity to recognize him and his work.”

In recommending Dr. Samuel-Foo for this recognition, Oscar Liburd, Ph.D., of the University of Florida wrote, “[Dr. Samuel-Foo] engages in research and teaching that is centered around encouraging minority student participation in sustainable agriculture and entomology. [She] is an excellent speaker, she is passionate about entomology as a science, and would be an ideal candidate to honor the legacy of Ernest Harris.”

[Note: This announcement was updated June 5, 2020, to reflect the change in format, from in-person to virtual, for the ESA Annual Meeting.]

CONTACT: Joe Rominiecki, jrominiecki@entsoc.org, 301-731-4535 x3009

ABOUT: ESA is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 6,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. The Society stands ready as a scientific and educational resource for all insect-related topics. For more information, visit http://www.entsoc.org.

Entomology 2020, the 68th Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, will take place virtually in November 2020, with live-stream content November 16-19 and on-demand content available November 11-25. The theme “Entomology for All” highlights a vision to bring together all insect scientists of all backgrounds and research specialties together as one community in one event. Each year, ESA’s annual meeting brings together approximately 3,600 insect scientists to share their latest research and communicate the global science of entomology. For more information, visit http://entsoc.org/events/annual-meeting.