Loke T. Kok, ESA Fellow (2005)

Dr. L. T. Kok, professor and department head of entomology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), was elected as Fellow in 2005. An internationally acknowledged leader in biological control of musk thistle and plumeless thistle, his research focuses on biological control and integrated pest management of arthropods and weeds of national importance.  

Kok was born in Ipoh, Malaya (Malaysia) in 1939, where he spent his first 29 years.  He attended the University of Malaya (UM), receiving his B.Agr.Sc. degree (with Honors) in agriculture in 1963 and his M.S. degree in entomology in 1965. During his M.S. program, he spent six months as a research fellow at the International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines in 1964.  He joined UM as an assistant professor in 1965 and was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 1968.  In August 1968, he went on sabbatical and entered the doctoral program in entomology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, earning a Ph.D. in June 1971, where he stayed on as a postdoctoral fellow for six months. He accepted a position on 1 January 1972 as assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech, attaining the rank of full professor in 1982, and has served as department head since 2004.   

Kok’s research focus is on development of effective, economical, and environmentally sound approaches for management of noxious weeds and arthropod pests. This encompasses selection, host specificity testing, and evaluation of native and exotic natural enemies as potential biological control agents of economically important pests in Virginia and the U.S. Details on the biology and life history of beneficial insects of noxious weeds and arthropod pests are his primary interest.  He was the first to establish Trichosirocalus horridus (Panzer) and Rhinocyllus conicus Froelich weevils to combat musk and plumeless thistles in U.S. fields. Kok has applied his expertise to control purple loosestrife using a root weevil (Hylobius transversovittatus Goeze), spotted knapweed using a fly (Urophora affinis Frfld), and the hemlock woody adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand) using a Canadian predaceous derodontid beetle (Laricobius nigrinus Fender). His publication record has more than 200 scientific papers in refereed journals.

Kok has received many research awards, including the ESA Eastern Branch L.O. Howard Distinguished Achievement Award in 2004, the ESA Agriculture Recognition Award in 1988, the Gamma Sigma Delta Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award in 1997, the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence in 1986, and the Gamma Sigma Delta Faculty Research Award in 1983. A member of Sigma Xi and Gamma Sigma Delta, Kok has graduated 36 students (17 M.S. and 19 Ph.D.); most now have successful careers in academia, industry, and government. He is currently advising/co-advising six graduate students. He has taught several courses: Biological Control of Arthropod Pests and Weeds, Arthropod Pest Management, Insect Ecology, and Insect Pest Management.  He served as President of the ESA Eastern Branch from 2009–2010. Kok is married to Victoria, a librarian, and has a son Alistair, a dentist. His favorite hobby is chess.

(updated June, 2012)