Dr. Harry K. Kaya, professor emeritus of entomology and nematology at University of California, Davis (UC Davis), was elected as Fellow in 2007. Kaya is internationally recognized for his contributions to insect pathology and insect nematology, which include more than 220 peer-reviewed publications. He has co-authored an insect pathology book and co-edited five books in several disciplines including forest entomology, entomopathogenic nematology, and invertebrate pathology.
Kaya was born and raised in Honolulu, HI. In 1962, Kaya received his B.S. in entomology from the College of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii (UH). Kaya served in the U.S. Army, and after being discharged as a first lieutenant, he proceeded to earn his M.S. degree in entomology from UH in 1964, specializing in insect ecology. In 1970, he earned his doctoral degree in entomology with research in insect pathology at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1971¬–1976, Kaya worked as an entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven and conducted research on biological control of forest insects. In 1976, he became an assistant professor at UC Davis, and he attained the rank of full professor in 1984.
Kaya’s research focused on developing entomopathogens as control agents to reduce pesticide load in the environment and on understanding the ecology and behavior of insect parasitic nematodes. In addition to making significant research contributions, Kaya has taught many courses in entomology, including insect pathology, general entomology, biological control, and natural history of insects for non-majors.
Kaya was the Department of Nematology chair from 1994–2001. He also served as an officer in the Society of Invertebrate Pathology (treasurer 1990–1994, vice-president 2000–2002, and president-elect 2002–2004), and was one of the founding editors, and is a current editor, of the journal Biological Control.
Kaya received the C. W. Woodworth Award from the ESA Pacific Branch in 1998. In 2000, he received the Recognition Award in Entomology from ESA and was named Fellow of the Society of Nematologists. Kaya has also received several awards from the Society for Invertebrate Pathology and UH.
Kaya has mentored many graduate students and post-doctoral researchers who have proceeded to establish their own careers and excel in research and teaching. His laboratory hosted and trained many visiting scientists from other countries who have become leaders in research with entomopathogenic nematodes upon their return to their own countries. These include scientists from Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Mexico, and Peru. Kaya maintains a strong relationship with many of them and he has ongoing projects with scientists from Korea and Turkey.
Kaya resides in Davis, CA with his wife and enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, gardening, and fishing.
(updated February, 2012)