Dr. Gary W. Felton, a professor and head of the Department of Entomology at Penn State University, was elected as Fellow in 2014. He is internationally recognized for his research on insect-plant interactions, and in particular on the role of herbivore saliva in evading plant defenses.
Felton was born in Norfolk, VA in 1953, but soon moved to California where he grew up. He completed his B.S. in biology in 1975 at the University of California, Irvine, where he was inspired by Howard Schneiderman to study insect physiology. After taking several years off from his education to start a family, Felton completed his M.S. in entomology in 1983 at the University of Kentucky, where he studied under Douglas Dahlman. He then moved to the University of California, Davis, where he completed his Ph.D. in 1988 with Sean Duffey. After a short postdoctoral study with Duffey, he became an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Arkansas in 1990. He attained the rank of full professor in 1998 and then accepted the position as professor and head of Entomology at Penn State University in 2000.
Felton’s research focuses on mechanisms of plant defense and the adaptations that herbivorous insects use to avoid them. This research has uncovered unique ways in which insect herbivores use salivary secretions to suppress the induced responses of their host plants and has been published in journals such as Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He has published more than 100 refereed papers, including numerous review articles for book chapters and journals such as Plant Physiology, Current Opinion in Plant Biology, and Annual Plant Reviews. In his role as head of Entomology at Penn State, Felton has seen the department grow to a staff of more than 170, including 24 tenure-track faculty, more than 50 graduate students, and more than 40 additional Ph.D.-level scientists. The department is known for its strengths in chemical ecology, pollinator health, vectors of infectious disease, and pest management and ecology.
Felton has been an invited speaker for numerous national and international professional meetings. He is a recipient of distinguished alumni awards from the Departments of Entomology at UC Davis and the University of Kentucky. Felton has served the ESA and his profession in numerous roles, including subject editor for Environmental Entomology, Arthropod-Plant Interactions, and the Archives of Insect Physiology and Biochemistry. He has organized multiple symposia and conferences for ESA annual meetings. In addition to service as a panel member for USDA and NSF programs, he has served twice as panel manager for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Felton has two children, Derek and Jessica, and is married to Dawn Luthe. He loves to travel, to sample new foods, to listen to music (blues is the best), and to experience art of all styles.
(updated February, 2015)
(updated February, 2015)