Tracy Leskey Selected to Deliver 2023 ESA Founders' Memorial Lecture

Leskey's keynote will honor Ronald Prokopy, entomologist and pioneer in fruit-pest management

Tracy Leskey, Ph.D.

Tracy Leskey, Ph.D.

Annapolis, MD; May 31, 2023—Tracy Leskey, Ph.D., director and research leader at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service's Appalachian Fruit Research Station, has been selected to deliver the Founders' Memorial Award Lecture at Entomology 2023, the Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America.

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, which posthumously honors the life and career of an influential entomologist.

At Entomology 2023, the subject of Leskey's lecture will be Ronald J. Prokopy, Ph.D. (1935−2004), an entomologist, behavioral ecologist, and professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass), who was renowned for his research on fruit flies, particularly the apple maggot fly (Rhagoletis pomonella), and his extensive research into integrated pest management methods in apple orchards.

Ronald J. Prokopy, Ph.D. (1935−2004)

Ronald J. Prokopy, Ph.D.

When Prokopy began his career in the mid-1960s, apple growers in the northeastern U.S. managed apple maggot fly with bi-weekly insecticide sprays throughout the growing season. He dedicated much of his life's work to understanding the fly's biology and behavior and proving the utility of multiple alternative management methods, including attract-and-kill traps. He tested and applied many of these methods in his own orchard, and as an extension agent he shared his discoveries and experience through "Twilight Talks" with fellow growers across Massachusetts.

Prokopy authored or co-authored more than 275 peer-reviewed research articles over the course of his career, and previous honors from ESA include the Eastern Branch J.E. Bussart Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Agriculture (1982), the Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension (1994), and the Founder's Memorial Award and Lecture (1998, honoring John Stodart Kennedy, Ph.D.).

Leskey earned her doctoral degree in Prokopy's lab at UMass and has become a leader in the development of integrated pest management (IPM) methods of fruit pests during her 23 years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearnesyville, West Virginia. Her research has encompassed numerous pest insects and a evaluated a range of management tactics including biological control, attract-and-kill, trap-based detection, surveillance via unmanned aerial vehicles, and more. Often this work has responded rapidly to new invasive species about which little was previously known, such as the brown marmorated stink bug, spotted-wing drosophila, and spotted lanternfly.

She earned a bachelor's degree (1990) in biology at Wilson College, a master's degree in ecology (1995) at Pennsylvania State University, and a Ph.D. (2000) in entomology at UMass. In addition to her role at USDA-ARS, Leskey also serves as adjunct faculty at West Virginia University and Virginia Tech and internship supervisor at Shepherd University.

Leskey has been an ESA member since 1993 and has served in multiple volunteer roles including Eastern Branch representative to the ESA Governing Board (2018−21), Eastern Branch president (2015−16), chair of the Insect Behavior and Ecology Section (2004−05), and subject editor for Environmental Entomology (2008−2018). She has also been named both Early Career Scientist of the Year (2007) and Senior Scientist of the Year (2021) at USDA-ARS.

"Tracy is an incredible innovator and role model in our field, and her work exemplifies the impact of entomological research that brings together government, academia, and industry," says ESA President Marianne Alleyne, Ph.D. "She has a unique perspective on the achievements of Ron Prokopy, whose legacy she has carried forward through her own career."

In recommending Leskey for this honor, John H. Borden, Ph.D., retired entomology researcher and consultant and former professor at Simon Fraser University, lauded Leskey's work in tackling "a rogue's gallery of pests" and noted that "if you ever see her CV, you will wonder if there is anything at which this superb entomologist does not excel. … The Society will surely marvel at her Founders' Award presentation in honor of her mentor … at its forthcoming annual meeting."

Leskey will deliver the Founders' Memorial Lecture, titled "Honoring the Legacy and Life of Ronald J. Prokopy: A Real Fly Guy," at Entomology 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland, during the Awards Breakfast, beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, November 7.


CONTACT: Joe Rominiecki,, 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 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, the Society stands ready as a non-partisan scientific and educational resource for all insect-related topics. For more information, visit

PHOTO CREDITS: Leskey photo courtesy of Tracy Leskey, Ph.D.; Prokopy photo courtesy of University of Massachusetts, Amherst.