Two entomology professors win regional Entomological Society of America awards in Indiana

Michigan State University Department Entomology professors David Smitley and Rufus Isaacs were honored by the North Central Branch of the Entomological Society of America in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 4-7.

Michigan State University Department Entomology professors David Smitley and Rufus Isaacs were honored by the North Central Branch of the Entomological Society of America in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 4-7. Smitley was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology and Isaacs was honored with the Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management.Smitley award1

David Smitley - Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology

As a full professor and MSU Extension specialist Smitley works closely with the turfgrass, nursery and floriculture industries to identify and solve insect pest problems, including best management practices for growers and landscapers. In 1991, Dr. Smitley worked with Forest Service colleagues to introduce Entomophaga maimaiga, a natural fungal pathogen of gypsy moth, into Michigan. In the last 16 years, he conducted research on emerald ash borer that led to the development of the most widely-used treatment for landscape trees; trunk injection with emamectin benzoate. During the same time period a series of field trials led to publications that explain how imidacloprid can provide a consistently high level of protection against emerald ash borer when applied as a basal soil drench, which gives homeowners a much-needed tool to protect valuable urban trees using products available at local garden centers.

In 2014, Dr. Smitley began an intensive research and extension effort to develop pest management programs for nursery and greenhouse growers that allows them to produce high quality plants that are safe for pollinators after the plants are purchased and planted in the yard and garden. This led to a joint-effort with Steve Frank in 2016 to organize the first national conference on “Protecting Pollinators in Ornamental Landscapes”. This conference was highly successful and a second conference is planned for October 2017. He is primary author of “Protecting and Enhancing Pollinators in Managed Urban Landscapes” for the North Central and North East U.S. regions. In its first year of publication (2016), this 30-page bulletin was accessed more than any other MSU Extension publication with more than 9,000 page views and more than 5,200 downloads. Smitley is continuing this work as one of the co-principal investigators on a $7.2 million USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant.

In 1999 and 2000 Smitley introduced the microsporidean pathogen, Ovavesicula popilliae, into Michigan. With a long-term research project and several publications the Smitley lab has documented a high correlation between the build-up of O. popilliae and a 75 percent decline in Japanese beetle populations in the 15 years following introduction of the pathogen.

Rufus Isaacs - Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management 

Isaacs studied Applied Biology at Imperial College in London for his undergraduate degree. After a year working in the private sector, he returned to academia and earned a Ph.D at The University of London studying pest insect ecology and management.RufusIsaacs2016 award1

He moved to the University of Arizona in 1994 to study whitefly pests of desert agriculture, then to Michigan State University where he joined the faculty in 1999.

As a professor of entomology, he leads a group studying insects in berry crops, including pests that threaten the yields and quality of blueberries, grapes, raspberries and strawberries as well as their natural enemies. His program has expanded over the past decade to also address pollination of fruit crops with a particular emphasis on the contribution of wild bees and strategies for their conservation.

Recent studies have focused on the behavior, ecology and control of spotted wing Drosophila in berry farms and control of pests in vineyards including invasive and native pests. Isaacs is currently the director of the Integrated Crop Pollination Project. The project's long-term goal is to develop and deliver context-specific Integrated Crop Pollination (ICP) recommendations on how to most effectively harness the potential of native bees for crop pollination. Learn more about his research and extension program at his lab’s website

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