Dr. William D. Hutchison, ESA Fellow (2021)

Dr. William D. Hutchison, professor and extension entomologist in the Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota (UMN), is internationally recognized for the development of sustainable integrated pest management (IPM) programs in horticultural and field crops. His research on endemic and invasive insect species emphasizes early pest detection, statistically sound pest sampling, resistance management, and the areawide assessment of genetically engineered (GE) crops on pest dynamics and economic benefits, particularly to non-GE crops. 

Hutchison was born in Tucson, Arizona, and as an undergraduate had the opportunity to help implement one of the first areawide mating disruption programs in the United States, for pink bollworm control. He received his B.S. degree in agronomy at the University of Arizona (1977), M.S. in entomology at Mississippi State University (1980), and Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1984). Following graduation, he was hired as a research entomologist, USDA-ARS, in Phoenix. In 1989, he accepted an offer as assistant professor of entomology at UMN and was promoted to professor in 2000. He served as department head from 2010 to 2015, and as coordinator of the Minnesota Extension IPM Program from 2015 to 2020. He is also an adjunct professor of Entomology at the University of Nebraska.

Throughout his career, Hutchison focused on applied ecology as a foundation for developing sustainable IPM strategies. His initial emphasis was European corn borer (ECB) and corn earworm (CEW) in sweet corn. In 1995, he conducted the first efficacy trials of genetically engineered Bt sweet corn in the Midwest. The research was timely, as his team also documented pyrethroid resistance in CEW—creating a renewed emphasis on insect resistance management (IRM). With the advent of Bt corn, and the NC-246 multistate research group, Hutchison co-led discussions among researchers, extension, and industry to develop the first consensus, High-Dose-Refuge IRM strategy for Bt corn (1997). These collaborations led to a landmark paper assessing the economic benefits of Bt corn (five states) and was published in Science. The study documented a cumulative benefit of $6.9 billion (1996-2009), with 62 percent of the revenue accruing to non-Bt corn (refuge) growers—an economic incentive for IRM. The benefit to those planting non-Bt corn occurred because of the areawide ECB suppression effect (“Halo effect”) and absence of Bt technology fees for non-Bt corn. To improve Bt resistance monitoring, he conceived the idea of using Bt sweet corn as an “in-field screen,” or as sentinel plots, now widely used by colleagues in the United States (more than 20 states) and Canada. Beyond Bt, he addressed the increasing frequency of invasive species in Minnesota agriculture, to develop additional IPM solutions such as exclusion netting to substantially reduce insecticide use.  

Hutchison’s research, with graduate students and colleagues, includes 190 journal articles, 22 book chapters, and numerous extension publications (>10,100 citations). His research has been featured by AP, NPR, The LA Times, and The Guardian (UK). A member of ESA since 1978, he served in many capacities, including co-editor for the Journal of Economic Entomology (1994-1996) and as president of the Plant-Insect Ecosystems (P-IE) Section. He also serves on the editorial boards for GM Crops & Food, Crop Protection and Insects. In 2020, he was invited to work as Co-Chief Editor for the Invasive Species section of a new journal, Frontiers in Insect Science. Previous awards include ESA’s Distinguished Extension Award (1997), the Entomological Foundation’s IPM Team Award (2011), P-IE Recognition Award (2018), and the ESA Award for Excellence in IPM (2020). 

Hutchison is married to Margo, and they have two grown children, Luke and Ellie. When not chasing bugs, he enjoys hiking the Minnesota North Shore, kayaking, and travel.