The Mafia has its Good Fellas.
The Entomological Society of America (ESA) has its Fellows, too.
And they're not just "good"--they're excellent.
Every year ESA singles out up to 10 members from the 6000-member organization for the Fellow Award, paying tribute to their outstanding contributions in research, teaching, extension or administration.
This year one of the 10 selected is chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. He is internationally recognized for his pioneering and innovative work in insect olfaction, or how insects detect smells.
He'll receive the Fellow award on Sunday at the ESA's meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana.Leal is one of 11 UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty to receive the award since 1947:
1947: Richard M. Bohart (for whom the Bohart Museum of Entomology is named)
1990: Donald McLean
1991: Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (for whom the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility is named)
1994: John Edman
1996: Robert Washino
2001: Bruce Eldridge
2004: William Reisen
2007: Harry Kaya
2008: Michael Parella and Frank Zalom
This year's list of ESA Fellows not only includes Leal from UC Davis, but Brian Federici and Alexander Raikhel of UC Riverside.
Three from the UC system--that's a three insect-net salute!
Congratulations are in order.
Chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, has just been selected a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, a prestigious honor granted to only 10 or few members of the 6000-member organization each year.
Leal is internationally known for his pioneering and innovative work on insect communication.
“This is a highly prestigious honor and richly deserved,” said Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and one of 10 other UC Davis entomologists named ESA Fellows since 1947.
May Berenbaum, professor and head of the Department of Entomology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, one of the scientists who supported his nomination, praised him as a "trail blazer" and lauded his leadership.
Leal and his lab discovered the secret mode of DEET, the insect repellent. For some 50 years, scientists figured it worked by either jamming the insect's senses or masking the smell of the host. Not so. In groundbreaking research, the Leal lab showed that mosquitoes can indeed smell DEET, but they avoid it because they don't like the smell.
In other words, it smells bad. That's why they avoid it.
The groundbreaking research, published Aug. 18, 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is among the most widely downloaded and cited PNAS documents.
Leal's pheromone work has graced the cover of several journals, including Structure, and has been showcased in the popular press, including the BBC, New York Times, and National Public Radio.
Leal has identified and synthesized complex pheromones from such insects as scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles, moths, and the naval orangeworm.
Entomologist Bruce Hammock, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, said Leal’s research has “practical implications in explaining how insects communicate within species, how they detect host and non-host plants, and how insect parasites detect their prey.”
Leal's navel orangeworm work alone is certain to result in a multi-million dollar beneficial impact on crops ranging from almonds to citrus, Hammock said. Leal's research on mosquito behavior is crucial to controlling vectorborne diseases like West Nile virus and malaria.
And now, an honor to match.
Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun compared the butterfly to a flying flower:
The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.
At the recent Entomological Society of America meeting in Reno, a blue butterfly drew the attention of lepidopterists and photographers alike. It was one of dozens showcased in the live butterfly display at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
And if you took a few steps inside the nearby exhibit hall, where vendors sold their wares, you saw butterfly-shaped jewelry. Was life imitating art or was art imitating life?
They did it.
The University of California team that developed a successful insect pest management program for almond growers, leading to significant pesticide reduction, drew praise and applause at the Entomological Society of America's 56th annual meeting, held recently in Reno
The seven-member Almond Pest Management Alliance Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Team received the Entomological Foundation’s “2008 Award for Excellence in IPM."
The team includes IPM specialist Frank Zalom, UC Davis professor of entomology, Extension entomologist, and former director of the UC Statewide IPM Program; UC IPM advisor Carolyn Pickel, UC Cooperative Extension, Sutter-Yuba counties; UC IPM advisor Walter Bentley, UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier; UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors Mario Viveros (emeritus), Kern County, Roger Duncan, Stanislaus County, and Joe Connell, Butte County; and scientist Barat Bisrabi, Dow AgroSciences. (Bisrabi received his doctorate from UC Davis).
The team developed and implemented a program “that has resulted in substantial reductions of organophosphate use,” said ESA spokesperson Richard Levine in announcing the award.
The annual award, Levine said, recognizes “the successful efforts of a team approach to IPM by a small collaborative group involving industry and academic scientists of no more than 10 team members.”
Zalom, who directed the UC IPM Program for 16 years (1988-2001), also received receive his ESA Fellow award at the same awards ceremony, as did UC Davis entomologist Michael Parrella.
The Pest Management Alliance (PMA), a partnership that included the Almond Board of California, UC Cooperative Extension, the UC IPM Program, the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Almond Hullers and Processors Association, and Community Alliance with Family Farmers, was launched in 1998 while Zalom was director of UC IPM.
Team members conducted a massive research and demonstration project for six to eight years (1998-2005) in the state’s primary almond-growing areas: Stanislaus County (six years) and Kern and Butte counties (eight years). California leads the nation in almond production, with some 700,000 acres.
PMA’s findings appear in the publication, Seasonal Guide to Environmentally Responsible Pest Management Practices for Almonds. Written by Pickel, Bentley, Viveros, Duncan and Connell, the publication offers a combination of biological, cultural and reduced risk alternatives. The guide outlines monitoring techniques and economic thresholds for using reduced-risk pesticides and specifies when to use broad-spectrum insecticides.
The team “developed an excellent research and extension team to develop and deliver IPM to the almond industry of California,” wrote award nominator Peter Goodell, interim director of the UC IPM Program and a longtime UC IPM advisor. For example, PMA research showed that almond growers need not spray for peach twig borer, navel orangeworm and San Jose scale every year.
California almond production currently totals some 700,000 acres. Honey bees (see photo below) play a crucial role. Without honey bee pollination, there would be no almonds. Each acre requires two hives.
Another California agriculture success story!
When UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal received a major award from the Entomological Society of America at its 56th annual meeting, held in Reno, DEET has something to do with it.
Leal, who received the Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology from ESA president Michael Gray, has amassed an amazing record of productivity. Most recently: his lab discovered the mode of action for the mosquito repellent, DEET.
Contrary to previous hypotheses, DEET doesn't jam a mosquto's sense of smell or mask the smell of the host. The reason why mosquitoes avoid DEET is they don't like the smell and avoid it.
Leal, professor of entomology and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, was one of seven professionals receiving distinguished awards at the ESA meeting. The other categories were extension, entomology, horticultural entomology, teaching, the certification program, and early career innovation.
A pioneer in the field of insect olfaction, Leal is best known for his research on the mode of action of odorant–binding proteins and odorant-degrading enzymes on the identification and synthesis of insect sex pheromones and on insect chemical communication.
As colleague Ring Cardé, chair of the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside, said: "Dr. Leal is one of the leading scientists worldwide studying the chemistry of pheromone communication in insects and related arthropods.”