Annapolis, MD; July 25, 2023—The Governing Board of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) has elected six new Fellows of the Society for 2023. Election as a Fellow of ESA acknowledges outstanding contributions to entomology via research, teaching, extension, administration, military service, or public engagement and science policy.
The entomologists named 2023 Fellows of the Entomological Society of America are:
- Cassandra Extavour, Harvard University
- James Hagler, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service
- Alvin M. Simmons, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service
- Lukasz Stelinski, University of Florida
- Edward L. Vargo, Texas A&M University
- Douglas B. Walsh, Washington State University
This year's honorees will be recognized during Entomology 2023, Novmeber 5-8, in National Harbor, Maryland.
2023 Fellows of the Entomological Society of America
Cassandra Extavour, Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Timken Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University, was elected as a Fellow in 2023. Extavour a native of Toronto, where she attended the University of Toronto Schools and went on to obtain an Honors BSc at the University of Toronto with a specialization in molecular genetics and molecular biology, a major in mathematics and a minor in Spanish. She obtained her Ph.D. with Antonio Garcia Bellido, Ph.D., at the Severo Ochoa Center for Molecular Biology at the Autonomous University of Madrid. She performed postdoctoral work first with Michalis Averoff, Ph.D., at the Institute for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in Crete, Greece, and subsequently with Michael Akam, Ph.D., at the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge she received a BBSRC research grant and became a research associate in the Department of Zoology. In 2007 she established her independent laboratory as an assistant professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, where she was promoted to associate professor in 2011 and to full professor in 2014. In 2021 she became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and was named the Timken Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard.
Extavour has received numerous honors and awards, including the NSERC Canada, Trinity College and Edward Blake Admissions Scholarships, and the Robert Philips Award for Excellence in Spanish as an undergraduate student; a graduate training fellowship of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Research as a graduate student; the EMBO Short Term Fellowship as a postdoctoral researcher, and the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award as an assistant professor. For her teaching and mentoring activities, she has been nominated for the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize and the Harvard Graduate Women in Science and Engineering Mentoring Award. In 2020 she was named a Harvard College Professor in recognition of her contributions to mentoring and teaching at Harvard.
Extavour began working on germ cell development in graduate school. In her Ph.D. thesis, she used classical Drosophila genetics to explore the genetic requirements of germ cells during development. Using clonal analysis, she showed that primordial germ cells engage in cell-cell competition prior to gametogenesis, revealing a level of natural selection that operates not only pre-zygotically but in the very precursors of gametes themselves. This means that allele frequencies can potentially be changed from one generation to the next, not only by natural selection operating on sexually mature adult individuals but also on the cells responsible for producing the gametes that will ultimately give rise to those individuals. Because of the critical role of germ cells not only in development but also in evolution, her subsequent work has focused on germ cell development in a comparative context.
The Extavour laboratory is interested in understanding early embryonic development, the genes that control this development, the evolutionary origins of these genes, and how their functions have changed over evolutionary time. The lab is particularly interested in the development and evolution of reproductive systems, including both germ cells, which are cells that make eggs and sperm in sexually reproducing animals, and somatic gonad cells, which create the structures to house and protect the germ cells and regulate egg and sperm production.
James Hagler, Ph.D., research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Arid Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa, Arizona, was elected as a Fellow in 2023. Hagler pioneered the development of the protein immunomarking procedure for use in arthropod area-wide dispersal research. He is also internationally recognized for his research on arthropod molecular gut content analysis, conservation biological control, cultural control, and insect behavior.
Hagler grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees at New Mexico State University in 1982 and 1985 and his Ph.D. in 1988 at the University of Arizona. He joined the USDA-ARS in 1988 as a postdoctoral research associate, and then as a research entomologist at the Western Cotton Research Laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona, from 1996 to 2005. In 2006, the WCRL relocated to the Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa, Arizona, where Hagler worked for the remainder of his career.
Hagler has authored more than 120 peer-reviewed publications. He has presented several keynote and plenary addresses and numerous invited papers and departmental seminars at professional conferences and academic institutions. Hagler has served as an editor for the Journal of Insect Science and BioControl and as the predator subject editor of Environmental Entomology.
Hagler is known for his role in mentoring the next generation of scientists. He has hosted 56 scientists, post-docs, and students in his laboratory and helped many researchers set up their own immunomarking laboratories. These collaborations produced a better understanding of trophic-level interactions and area-wide movement of arthropods on spatial and temporal scales.
Hagler has received several awards and honors, including the USDA-ARS Research Scientist of the Year Award; USDA-ARS Technology Transfer Award; 2020 USDA-ARS Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity Group Award; ESA Pacific Branch Award for Excellence in IPM; C.W. Woodworth Award from the ESA Pacific Branch; and International Organization for Biological Control Distinguished Scientist Award.
James and his wife of 41 years, Debbie, have a loving family: Matthew, Diana, Andrew, Johanna, and Amanda. His hobbies include gardening with his grandchildren Emma and Ethan, birding, and playing golf.
Alvin M. Simmons, Ph.D., research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) U.S. Vegetable Laboratory (USVL) in Charleston, South Carolina, was elected as a Fellow in 2023. He is internationally known for his work on integrated pest management in crops.
Simmons was born in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1957 and grew up on a small family farm. He received a B.S. in biology from East Carolina University (1980) and an M.S. (1983) and Ph.D. (1987) in entomology from the University of Kentucky. After graduation and four months of postdoctoral research at the University of Kentucky, he joined USDA-ARS in Tifton, Georgia, where he conducted three years of postdoctoral research and then accepted a permanent appointment in 1990. He transferred to the USVL in 1992 to address a congressional mandate on whiteflies. Shortly thereafter, he also assumed responsibility for an in-house project supporting the registration of pest control products in cooperation with the national IR-4 Project. In 2017, he was also appointed USDA-ARS coordinator for the Minor Use Pesticide Program for Food and Ornamental Horticulture, which concerns research by ARS in cooperation with the IR-4 Project to support the registration of pest control products for specialty crops (e.g., fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, and floral) and minor use on major crops. He served on details as acting research leader and location coordinator for the former USDA-ARS Phil Campbell Natural Resource Conservation Center in Watkinsville, Georgia, in 2011, and for the USVL in 2019.
Simmons has published over 175 articles, including seven book chapters, and co-released five breeding lines; he has also provided over 350 technical reports. His documented research subjects include host plant resistance, insect behavior and bionomics, geonomics, biocontrol, cultural control, biopesticides, pesticide resistance, and insect-virus-plant relationships. He has given over 250 research talks to domestic and international audiences. His research contributed to the registration of numerous pest control products. The USDA-ARS team of researchers that he leads results in an estimated annual impact of $1.3 billion gross domestic product.
Simmons has provided leadership in entomology including serving as president of ESA (2019-2020); president of the Entomological Foundation (2018-2019); president of the South Carolina Entomological Society (2018-2019); co-chair (with Walter Leal, Ph.D.) of the 2016 International Congress of Entomology (2012-2016), the largest gathering of entomologists to date; member of the Entomological Foundation Board of Counselors (2005-2016); president of the ESA Southeastern Branch (2008-2009); and member of numerous committees. He has received many recognitions including ESA Recognition Award in Entomology, the ESA Southeastern Branch Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management, IR-4 Meritorious Award, University of Kentucky Department of Entomology Distinguished Alumni Award (first recipient), Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, Honorary Member of ESA, Sigma Xi lifetime member, Gamma Sigma Delta lifetime member, Community Service Award in Agricultural Research & Education, and USDA-ARS Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity Award.
Married to his wife Edith for 20 years, they supported their first-born, Princess (7th grade), to present her first ESA annual meeting paper in 2022 and her second ESA meeting paper in 2023 along with co-author Duchess, their other child (3rd grade).
Lukasz Stelinski, Ph.D., professor of entomology and nematology at the University of Florida's Citrus Research and Education Center, was elected as a Fellow in 2023. A consistent area of research focus has been the practical applications of semiochemicals for pest management, particularly in the area of mating disruption. His research has contributed to the development of a theoretical framework for understanding mating disruption mechanisms in insects. Stelinski played a role in evaluating and refining practical technologies for releasing semiochemicals in crops, leading to the development of now widely available tools. In recognition of his contributions to applications of chemical ecology for pest control, he was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2022.
Currently, Stelinski's research involves investigating the interactions between phytopathogens and their vectors, aiming to develop sustainable management systems for crop production in response to disease invasions. His work on citrus greening disease, which heavily impacts Florida's orange juice trees, has involved managing vector populations and addressing issues such as insecticide resistance.
For example, his lab unraveled the mechanisms conferring insecticide resistance in citrus psyllid populations and developed appropriate remediation strategies. Grower adoption of revised insecticide application schedules eliminated the problem of neonicotinoid and pyrethroid resistance among psyllid populations in Florida citrus almost entirely.
Stelinski's research on plant-insect interactions has revealed the impact of citrus psyllid feeding on plant immunity and growth. Through his studies, he has determined that suppressing vector populations can lead to measurable yield gains, particularly when disease is widespread. In this case, his findings have revealed the utility of incorporating threshold-based management strategies for vectors, reducing unnecessary insecticide sprays while maintaining yield and increasing grower profit.
Stelinski's research has also influenced cultural control methods for disease management in citrus. His team demonstrated the effectiveness of establishing living windbreaks and replacing individual diseased trees instead of replanting entire orchards. Additionally, his research on psyllid vector movement has contributed to the reduction of abandoned orchards in Florida, which serves as a source of disease inoculum.
With nearly 240 peer-reviewed journal articles and over $16 million in grant support, Stelinski has greatly benefited from wide ranging collaborations with many colleagues across the globe and has had the good fortune of working with many brilliant students and postdocs, all of whom have greatly contributed to his lab's success. Those students and postdocs are now active in academia, industry, and the U.S. government. Stelinski is involved in teaching courses and seminars on pest management, chemical ecology, and professional development in entomology, and he actively promotes the implementation of biorational solutions to pest management through his extension program.
Edward L. Vargo, Ph.D., professor and endowed chair in urban entomology at Texas A&M University, was elected as a Fellow in 2023. He is internationally recognized for research in the reproductive biology and molecular ecology of social insects and urban insect pests.
Vargo was born in San Jose, California, in 1958 and grew up in the Bay Area, where he was greatly influenced by the redwood forests and rugged coastline. He received a B.S. in biology from Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, in 1980. Vargo earned a Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Georgia in 1986 under the joint supervision of Murray Blum, Ph.D., and David Fletcher, Ph.D. His Ph.D. research focused on social regulation of reproduction and development in fire ant colonies. In 1987 he was awarded a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship to work with Luc Passera, Ph.D., at the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France, on regulation of reproduction and caste development in Argentine ants. From 1989 to 1998, he was a research scientist in the laboratory of Larry Gilbert, Ph.D., at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied the reproductive biology of fire ants. He joined the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University as assistant professor in 1998, attained the rank of professor in 2009, and served as interim department head from 2013 to 2014. In 2014 he assumed his current position in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University.
Vargo's research in urban entomology is interdisciplinary, utilizing genetics, behavior, and physiology to study the reproductive biology, population genetics, and management of urban insect pests. His genetic studies investigate the breeding structure of termite and ant colonies, the dispersal and population biology of bed bugs and cockroaches, the invasion biology of urban pests, and management approaches aimed at eliminating colonies of termites and ants. His research on chemical communication in social insects focuses on the role of queen pheromones in caste determination, king and queen recognition by workers, and regulation of reproduction in colonies of ants and termites. Vargo's group has published more than 180 scientific papers and book chapters. He has given or co-authored more than 300 presentations at regional, national, and international meetings. He has mentored 10 Ph.D. students, nine M.S. students, 11 postdoctoral researchers, and six visiting scientists.
Vargo has held leadership positions in professional societies, including president of the ESA Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology Section; president of the North Carolina Entomological Society; and president and secretary-treasurer of the North American Section of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects. He has served as associate editor for Environmental Entomology, and he has advised the Korean and Australian governments on the interception and remediation of introduced fire ants. His accomplishments have been recognized with numerous awards including the ESA Recognition Award in Urban Entomology, the Distinguished Achievements Award of the National Conference on Urban Entomology, and the Crown Leadership Award by Syngenta and PCT Media Group.
He and his wife Annette deFerrari are avid cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts. He has three children and two grandchildren.
Douglas B. Walsh, Ph.D., professor and extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at Washington State University (WSU), was elected as a Fellow in 2023. Walsh is known internationally for his research on the modes of action and resistance mechanisms of acaricides on spider mites and regionally in the Pacific Northwest for his extension and outreach efforts on specialty crops.
Walsh was born in New York, New York, in 1963, and his family relocated to California in 1969, where he completed his primary and secondary education in Goleta, California. Walsh received his B.S. in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1985 and Ph.D. in entomology from the University of California, Davis, in 1998. Walsh accepted the position of assistant professor in entomology at WSU in 1998 and was promoted to associate professor in 2003 and to professor in 2007.
Walsh has maintained a well-funded (more than $30 million) and productive program as the research director of the Environmental and Agricultural Entomology Laboratory located at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in the Yakima Valley near Prosser, Washington. Walsh is the extension integrated pest management (IPM) coordinator for Washington State and the Washington State liaison representative to the U.S. Department of Agriculture IR-4 Project. Walsh has an extensive and varied integrated pest and pollinator management research and extension program assisting regionally important commodities including hops, alfalfa, grapes, and mint. Walsh also directs environmental impact studies on alfalfa leafcutting and alkali bees, the key pollinators of alfalfa produced for seed. Walsh's efforts in IPM have resulted in the documented reduction of over 100,000 pounds of insecticide use in the Pacific Northwest annually. Walsh has authored over 200 publications, and he annually makes over 35 extension presentations. Walsh has directly mentored 12 Ph.D. and 11 M.S. graduate students at WSU.
Walsh has served ESA in numerous capacities, most notably as Pacific Branch president in 2010 and as the representative from the Pacific Branch on the ESA Governing board from 2013 through 2019. Walsh was knighted into of the Order of the Hop (Chevalier) by the International Hop Growers Bureau in 2017. Within ESA, Walsh has received the Excellence in IPM Award and has led two teams that received the IPM Team Award. Within WSU Walsh has been awarded the Sahlin Award for Outreach and Engagement, the Excellence in Extension Award, the Team Interdisciplinary Award, and the Excellence in Integrated Research and Extension Award.
Walsh has shared his life with his wife of 35 years, Catherine (aka Kikie). Kikie is a senior software engineer with Altera Digital, a hospital software firm. Together they have raised their children Claire, Russ, and Jeff. All three of Walsh's children graduated from WSU. Claire resides in Everett, Washington, with her husband Cody and son Lowell. Claire is lifecycle marketing manager with Niantic Labs. Russ resides in Prosser, Washington, where he is completing his M.S. in teaching at WSU Tri-Cities. Jeff resides in Renton, Washington, with his wife Chi, where he serves as a site reliability engineer for TikTok.
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ABOUT: ESA is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, the Society stands ready as a non-partisan scientific and educational resource for all insect-related topics. For more information, visit www.entsoc.org.