Entomological Foundation Announces 2011 Awardees

Lanham, MD; October 12, 2011 – The Entomological Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to build a future for entomology by educating young people about science through insects, has announced the winners of its 2011 student and professional awards. The Foundation's professional awards will be presented at their Awards Luau Reception, Monday, November 14, 6:30-8:30 pm at Entomology 2011 in Reno Nevada. The student awards will be presented Tuesday, November 15, 7:30-8:30 pm. The awardees are as follows:


Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management—Sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection, this award is based on outstanding contributions which have a direct relation to integrated pest management (IPM). Dr. Joseph G. Morse is a professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside. His research focuses on arthropod pests of citrus and avocados in California, dealing in particular with the integration of chemical and biological methods of pest management, invasive species research, proactive pesticide resistance management, and postharvest disinfestation of fruit. Ten Ph.D. and seven M.S. students have completed their degrees under his supervision, and he regularly teaches a course in the “Natural History of Insects” and the evolution portion of “Introductory Evolution and Ecology.” He is author or co-author on 125 scientific refereed journal articles, 58 book chapters, books, or proceedings articles, and 125 technical publications. He was associate director of the University of California’s Statewide IPM Program for six years, director of the UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research for three years, and Statewide Program Leader for Agricultural Policy & Pest Management for UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources for six years.

Integrated Pest Management Team Award—Sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, this award recognizes the successful pest-control efforts of a small, collaborative work team which includes at least one entomologist from the private sector and one from the public sector. The European Corn Borer (ECB) Team documented a $6.9 billion cumulative benefit to U.S. corn producers resulting from 14 years of areawide suppression of the pest Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner) following the adoption of transgenic corn, specifically corn hybrids expressing one or more insecticidal proteins of the bacteriumBacillus thuringiensis. The team found a significant and substantial decline in ECB larval and moth populations for five major corn-growing states in the central U.S. Corn Belt. Historically, ECB has been the most widespread insect pest of U.S. corn, responsible for an estimated annual loss of $1 billion. The team had access to, or collected, long-term (50+ years) larval and moth population data that allowed a quantitative analysis of population change before and after the introduction of Bt corn. In brief, the areawide suppression occurs over time because Bt corn, as a form of host plant resistance, continues to be highly effective, providing virtually 100% control of the pest with no field-evolved resistance to Bt. Once young larvae take their first bites, they ingest lethal doses and die within a few days. Since female moths cannot distinguish Bt corn from non-Bt corn, the Bt corn acts as a “trap crop,” and local infestations decline over time. The analysis confirmed that in addition to the direct benefits to Bt corn producers, nearly 63% of the savings ($4.9 billion) actually accrued to non-Bt corn growers. Non-Bt corn growers benefit from very low infestations in these fields, and their production costs are lower since they are not paying Bt corn technology fees. The team’s findings were reported by Science, NPR, the Associated Press, German Public Radio and other news outlets. ECB Team members include Bill Hutchison, Eric Burkness, and Roger Moon (University of Minnesota); Paul Mitchell (University of Wisconsin), Mike Gray (University of Illinois), Rick Hellmich (USDA-ARS), Kevin Steffey (Dow AgroSciences), Von Kaster (Syngenta), Tom Hunt and Bob Wright (University of Nebraska). In addition, several associate team members were instrumental to this project, including Shelby Fleischer (Penn State University), Mark Abrahamson (Minnesota Department of Agriculture), K. Hamilton (Wisconsin Department of Agriculture), K. Pecinovsky (Iowa State University), Tim Leslie (Long Island University), Brian Flood (DelMonte Foods), Tom Rabaey (General Mills) and Earl Raun (University of Nebraska).

Henry and Sylvia Richardson Research Grant—This grant provides research funds to postdoctoral ESA members who have at least one year of promising work experience, are undertaking research in selected areas, and have demonstrated a high level of scholarship. Christelle Guédot is a postdoctoral associate at the USDA-ARS Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory in Washington State and is an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Entomology at Washington State University. Christelle comes from France, where she conducted her undergraduate studies. She then moved to the U.S. in 1998 to conduct her Ph.D. studies on the behavior and chemical ecology of two commercially important solitary bees at Utah State University in collaboration with the USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory. Her current research focuses on the chemical ecology and behavior of pest insects with the aim to identify attractants to control these pests with.

President's Prizes for Outstanding Achievement in Primary EducationSponsored by the Entomological Society of America, this award recognizes a primary school educator (grades K-6) who has gone beyond the traditional teaching methods by using insects as educational tools. Amber Stout is a third-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary in Pierre, South Dakota. Amber likes to incorporate insects into her lessons to make students more aware of the economic impacts they have on the community, and to make students more aware of the environment. She likes to use a hands-on approach to teaching and strives to get students actively engaged in the learning process. In her lesson plan on honeybees, Stout teaches students about the anatomy of the bee, the structure of the hive, the role of each bee within the community, and the environmental impact of bees on the local community. A beekeeper is invited into the classroom to discuss his job and to show the students the tools and attire required to raise bees. Mrs. Stout also sets up a model of a beehive for students to experience of beekeeping. Throughout the lesson, students participate in the waggle dance, become pollinators, and take a virtual tour of a bee hive. It is an un-bee-lievable experience!

President's Prizes for Outstanding Achievement in Secondary EducationSponsored by the Entomological Society of America, this award recognizes a secondary school educator (grades 7-12) who has gone beyond the traditional teaching methods by using insects as educational tools. Tanya Ashimine is a biology, zoology, human physiology, and AVID elective teacher at Kaiser High School in Honolulu, Hawaii.Tanya began using insects as an integral part of her science classes several years ago to teach concepts involving adaptation, communication, ecology, and evolution.The availability of insects has made them an invaluable tool in inquiry projects.Using local insects helps spark student interest and relates animal biology to real-world problems.Tanya has worked in partnership with the University of Hawaii’s Plant & Environmental Protection Sciences Department, using their Educate To Eradicate project as the focal point for a culminating service learning project. It applies new learning while helping community members reduce pest susceptibility. Specifically, students utilize what they have learned about termite biology to teach adults how to prevent termites from damaging their homes.

Recognition Award in Urban Entomology—Sponsored by S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., this award recognizes and encourages outstanding extension, research, and teaching contributions in urban entomology. Dr. Shripat T. Kamble earned his Ph.D. in entomology from North Dakota State University (1974), and is currently a professor of entomology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr. Kamble has been an active member of the North Central Branch (NCB) since 1970, has served two terms on the ESA Governing Board (2000-2006), and has been actively involved in the Certification Program since its early days, serving as BCE Director in 2000 and Chair of the BCE Examining Committee from 2004-present. He has organized and moderated a total of 44 symposia at ESA North Central Branch and national meetings, and at National Conference on Urban Entomology (NCUE) meetings. He also served the NCB as an executive member-at-large (2006-2009).

Dr. Kamble has worked at the University of Nebraska for 33 years as an assistant, associate, and full professor. He is a graduate faculty fellow and has supervised eight M.S. and 11 Ph.D. students, as well as three postdoctoral researchers. He has served on various departmental committees, a pesticide advisory committee, and in the University Academic Senate. He has been a state liaison for the Pest Management Center, the Pesticide Impact Assessment Program, and the IR-4 program for more than 15 years. He has hosted 13 visiting scholars, has published 135 papers, and has acquired $3.42 million in grants.

His research in the 1980s on distribution of termiticides in soils contributed to termiticide label changes for drilling holes at one foot apart to create a continuous chemical barrier. His data on degradation of termiticides in various soils resulted in estimating how long termiticides may remain efficacious under field conditions. He participated in national termiticide research to develop data for reduction in pesticide usage and economic costs, which contributed to the registration of termiticides for exterior perimeter treatment only, plus targeted interior treatment. His research on Metarhizium anisopliae against German cockroaches yielded discouraging data that convinced the industry not to pursue the registration. Dr. Kamble promoted the use of bait products in sensitive environments, thereby minimizing pesticide usage and human exposure, and he has generated extensive data on the field performance of baits against subterranean termites.

Thomas Say Award—This award acknowledges significant and outstanding work in the fields of insect systematics, morphology, or evolution. Dr. James B. Whitfield is professor of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an associate research scientist at the Illinois Natural History Survey. His research focuses on the systematics and ecology of parasitoid wasps, especially microgastrine Braconidae, that attack caterpillars. His fieldwork has taken him over much of the world, with a special emphasis on neotropical forests where the wasps are highly diverse. A special interest in this group of wasps is their coevolution with symbiotic polydnaviruses, which his research has helped elucidate. He also has been deeply committed to teaching courses in insect systematics and invertebrate zoology, and he is currently lead author (with Sandy Purcell, Howell Daly, and John Doyen) of the third edition of the Introduction to Insect Biology and Diversity. He has published over 120 journal articles and book chapters, and has been a recipient of 15 grants from the National Science Foundation.


BioQuip Undergraduate Scholarship—Sponsored by BioQuip Products, a major supplier of entomology equipment, this $2,000 annual scholarship assists a student in obtaining a degree in entomology or pursuing a career as an entomologist. Ginny Morgal is an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in insect science. She is currently conducting her senior thesis research, which is funded through the Undergraduate Creative Activity and Research Experience Program, on the effects of formic acid, which is commonly used to treat for the honey bee pest Varroa destructor, on brood development and on queen mandibular pheromone. Brood areas were measured in colonies treated and untreated with formic acid, and queens were then collected and their mandibular glands dissected out. Gas chromatography will be used to determine the levels of 9-ODA in both the treated and untreated queens. Ginny serves as president of the Insect Science Club, and is actively involved in K-12 entomology-based outreach programs, and is also a teaching assistant for the introductory Insect Identification course. After graduating with a degree in insect science, Ginny plans on attending graduate school to obtain her Ph.D. in entomology.

ICINN Student Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, Toxicology, and Molecular Biology—Sponsored by the International Congress on Insect Neurochemistry and Neurophysiology (ICINN), this award recognizes and encourages innovative research in the areas of insect physiology, biochemistry, toxicology, and molecular biology in the broad sense. The areas of research may include development, genetics, defense mechanisms, and other offshoots of physiology, biochemistry, and toxicology. Dr. Joe Louis recently received his Ph.D. from the University of North Texas (UNT) in molecular biology under the advisement of Dr. Jyoti Shah. He received his B.S. in agriculture from Kerala Agricultural University, India and his M.S. in entomology from Kansas State University. For his Ph.D. research, Joe utilized the model plant Arabidopsis thalianato identify plant genes and mechanisms that are involved in mediating plant defense against the green peach aphid. His research characterized the involvement of plant lipids in regulating aphid feeding and fecundity. This work has resulted in several peer-reviewed publications and has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award from the Entomological Society of America (ESA), and the Lillian & Alex Feir Graduate Student Travel Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, or Molecular Biology from the Entomological Foundation. Joe has also shown excellence as a teaching assistant in Plant Biology and Principles of Biology courses at UNT for four years. He has contributed to ESA by volunteering by co-organizing symposia at both the branch and the national ESA meetings. Joe is currently a postdoctoral scholar with Dr. Gary Felton at the Department of Entomology & Center for Chemical Ecology at Pennsylvania State University, and is continuing research on insect-plant interactions with specific focus on molecular and biochemical aspects of insect salivary factors that mediate plant defense responses.

Jeffery P. LaFage Graduate Student Research Award—This grant, which was established by an endowment from donations by Rousell Bio, Dow AgroSciences, FMC, and the friends and family of Dr. Jeffery P. LaFage, is awarded to a graduate student who proposes innovative research that advances or contributes significantly to the knowledge of the biology or control of pests in the urban environment, especially termites or other wood-destroying organisms. Timothy J. Husen, a Ph.D. candidate in entomology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received his M.S. degree in entomology and his B.S. degree in biological sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research project, titled “Effects of Chitinase Inhibitor Treated Diet on the Eastern Subterranean Termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar),” examines the palatability, chitinase activity, and concentration dependent mortality of the eastern subterranean termite in response to a chitinase inhibitor treated diet. The goal of this project is to evaluate the potential use of chitinase inhibitors within a termite control program. He has four refereed and 10 non-refereed scientific publications to his name.

Kenneth and Barbara Starks Plant Resistance to Insects Graduate Student Research Award—This grant is awarded to a graduate student in entomology or plant breeding/genetics for innovative research that contributes significantly to knowledge of plant resistance to insects. Dr. Casey D. Butler is an R&D scientist at Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. He is a recent Ph.D. graduate from the University of California, Riverside (UCR). He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Purdue University. At UCR, Casey earned his Ph.D. for the development of management strategies for the potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli (Sulc), in southern California. The potato psyllid is a major pest of solanaceous crops in North and Central America as well as New Zealand. Potato psyllid causes yield loss by direct feeding on crop plants and by transmitting a bacterial pathogen (Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous). The goal of Casey’s research is to build the foundation of integrated pest management against this pest by first developing sampling plans for this pest in agricultural fields, and then to move towards more targeted chemical tools, biological control, and host plant resistance. His research regarding host plant resistance involved collaborators at the USDA-ARS and Texas A&M University by testing 22 possibly resistant potato genotypes on adult potato psyllid behavioral responses for possible antixenosis and determined if specific breeding clones or varieties can decrease transmission of Ca. L. psyllaurous. Five of the potato genotypes significantly decreased Ca. L. psyllaurous transmission compared to controls. The next step is to test these promising genotypes in the field before recommendations can be made for the most effective integration with a potato psyllid and Ca. L. psyllaurous management program.

Larry Larson Graduate Student Award for Leadership in Applied Entomology—Sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, this award recognizes Dr. Larry Larson's role as a leader and pioneer in insect management and carries that legacy to the next generation of leaders in applied entomology. Alysha Soper is a master’s student in entomology at Kansas State University (KSU) and will begin her Ph.D. this spring. Her M.S. research has focused on characterizing sorghum headworm (Helicoverpa zea, also known as corn earworm, and Spodoptera frugiperda, also known asfall armyworm) damage potentials in grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) panicles in order to test current assumptions regarding the management of headworm under mixed-species scenarios. In addition to her thesis research, Alysha has sought to develop site-specific management recommendations for headworm in sorghum by identifying key sampling areas within a field, as well as strategies to temporally forecast infestations at a local level. Consequently, her work will allow sorghum producers to make timely and spatially-explicit treatment decisions, leading to increased profitability through increased yields and reductions in unwarranted insecticide use. As a former president and active member of the KSU Popenoe Entomology Club, Alysha has enjoyed working with the Entomology Department’s outreach programs and hopes to gain additional extension experience during her upcoming Ph.D. program. A long-term goal of Alysha’s is to enhance the productivity and sustainability of current agroecosystems by developing programs that promote beneficial insect activity and increase ecosystem services in a changing landscape.

Lillian and Alex Feir Graduate Student Travel Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, or Molecular Biology—This award aims to encourage graduate students working with insects or other arthropods in the broad areas of physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology to affiliate with ESA's Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology Section and to attend the ESA Annual Meeting or an International Congress of Entomology. Elina Lastro Niño is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Entomology at Pennsylvania State University working under the guidance of Dr. Christina Grozinger. Her dissertation research involves behavioral, physiological, and molecular characterization of factors affecting honey bee queen post-mating changes and queen-worker interactions. She is particularly interested in understanding the underlying molecular pathways regulating these changes and whether these changes are evident after the queen commences oviposition. She also studies factors that alter queen pheromone profiles and how this in turn regulates worker behavior and physiology, which could affect colony success. Elina is also very involved with outreach and extension, and she has received numerous awards, scholarships, and fellowships. She will be presenting a talk entitled “Dissecting the factors affecting honey bee queen (Apis mellifera L.) pheromone production and queen-worker interactions” at Entomology 2011 in Reno, NV.

Stan Beck Fellowship—This award assists needy students at the graduate or undergraduate level of their education in entomology and related disciplines at a college or university in the United States, Mexico, or Canada. Scott M. Ferrenberg is currently a doctoral student working with Jeffry Mitton at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Scott earned a master’s degree in 2002 from the University of Maryland’s Department of Entomology, where he was advised by Bob Denno. Scott is currently studying mountain pine beetle development and host selection in high elevation forests that were historically outside of the beetle’s climatically suitable range. His work focuses on comparing host tree defenses from the beetle’s novel range to trees of the same species in forest stands at lower elevations with long histories of beetle infestations. He is also studying the bark beetle fungal-symbionts to determine their geographical ranges and host tolerance. Scott’s path through graduate school has been redirected due to chronic Crohn’s disease, a genetically-linked, incurable, autoimmune disorder. He currently collaborates with other Colorado scientists to improve research efforts on Crohn’s and other autoimmune disorders that are not only influenced by genetic factors, but also by changes in the human microbiotic community.