Hari C. Sharma, ESA Fellow (2014)


Dr. Hari C. Sharma, a principal scientist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, Telangana, India, was elected as Fellow in 2014. His major contributions are in the areas of insect bioecology, host-plant resistance, transgenics and molecular markers for insect resistance, biosafety of transgenic crops to nontarget organisms, and IPM.

Sharma was born in Behra, Himachal Pradesh, India, on 15 June 1954. He attended Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry, where he received his B.S. degree in 1974 and M.S. degree in 1976. He earned his Ph.D. in entomology at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in 1979. He joined the Central Institute for Cotton Research in 1979 as a cotton entomologist, and six months later he accepted an entomologist position at ICRISAT, becoming a principal scientist in 1994. He has worked at ICRISAT for the past 35 years. He was also a visiting scientist at the University of Wisconsin in 1987, and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries in 1996.

Sharma has been instrumental in the development of artificial diets for insect rearing and techniques to screen for host plant resistance; in understanding mechanisms and inheritance of resistance; and the biosafety of transgenic plants to nontarget organisms. The insect-resistant varieties identified and developed by Sharma have been released for cultivation in Asia and Africa, and/or used in crop improvement in Asia, Africa, the USA, and Australia. His contributions in developing pest-resistant cultivars and IPM systems in cotton, cereals, and grain legumes will not only help reduce the huge losses by insect pests, but will also curtail pesticide use, thus minimizing environmental pollution. His work has also demonstrated that elimination of gut microflora makes Helicoverpa armigera resistant to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins, and that variation in gut microflora may lead to the development of insect resistance to Bt transgenic crops. He has published more than 250 research papers, 150 book chapters, 10 research and information bulletins, and six books. Many of his graduate students have gone on to successful careers in academia, industry, and government.

Recognized by various national and international organizations, Sharma has received seven Gold Medals, the Hari Om Trust Award of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Excellence in Science Award of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, and the International Plant Protection Award of the International Association of Plant Protection Sciences (IAPPS). He is a fellow of seven academic societies, including the Indian National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and he is a Life Fellow of the Entomological Society of India. Dr. Sharma is a governing board member of IAPPS, and is president of the Council of International Congresses of Entomology.

Sharma is married to Veena, and has two daughters, Dr. Anu Sharma (a cancer immunologist) and Ankita Sharma (an IT professional). His hobbies include gardening, walking, playing flute, and folksongs.

(updated February, 2015)