J. E. McPherson, ESA Fellow (2007)

Dr. J. E. McPherson, a professor at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (SIUC), was elected as Fellow in 2007. He is internationally recognized for his research of Hemiptera-Heteroptera, which has focused on ecology and systematics of terrestrial and aquatic taxa, emphasizing bionomics.

McPherson was born in San Diego, CA, on 8 June 1941, where he spent his first 23 years. He attended San Diego State University, receiving his B.S. degree in 1963 and his M.S. degree in 1964. He then entered the doctoral program in entomology at Michigan State University (MSU), earning a Ph.D. in 1968. He immediately took a postdoctoral position at MSU. Within one year, he accepted a position as assistant professor in the Department of Zoology at SIUC, attaining the rank of full professor in 1979.

McPherson's research has involved numerous life history studies, which have required a thorough knowledge of the morphological differences between immature stages within and between species. This work has required developing specific laboratory-rearing techniques to obtain immature stages for synoptic collections and descriptive templates for those stages. His research has produced descriptions or co-descriptions of 183 instars and 35 eggs of 37 species of Hemiptera in 21 families. He provided the first thorough life history information for several species, including many heretofore considered rare, such as Nepa apiculata Uhler, Pseudometapterus umbrosus (Blatchley), and Galgupha ovalis Hussey. He has coauthored over 180 refereed publications and two books, The Pentatomoidea (Hemiptera) of Northeastern North America with Emphasis on the Fauna of Illinois, and Stink Bugs of Economic Importance Occurring in America North of Mexico coauthored with Robert McPherson.

In addition to McPherson’s substantial research contributions, he is known as a challenging and inspiring teacher at SIUC. His entomology course is a favorite amongst zoology students, with students vying to create the largest insect collection. A former student of Jay’s, now an entomology professor himself, said of the class, “This was the best class of my life! I have so much love for Jay’s absolute devotion to science that I can only hope to live up to him some day.” McPherson’s advanced entomology course is considered even more intense, and the materials students generate from that course become valuable resources throughout their careers.

McPherson has served the ESA in numerous capacities including two terms as a member of the Governing Board (1994–1996, 2001–2003), as President in 2002, as a member of the Editorial Board of the American Entomologist (1986–1993) and as editor(1993–2001), as a member of the Finance Committee (2008–2010), as a Linnaean Games judge numerous times at Branch and National levels, and as a member of various presidential committees. At ESA meetings, he is an important presence and known affectionately as an “affable stickler.” He was elected an Honorary Member of the ESA in 2004, and the North Central Branch has honored him with the C. V. Riley Achievement Award in 1997 and the Award of Merit in 2006.

(updated August, 2011)