- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Lewis is recognized as a global leader in using nematodes as biological agents, said nematologist Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Lewis will receive the award at PBESA's 100th annual meeting, “Science for the Next Century,” set April 3-6 in Honolulu. PBESA is comprised of 11 western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming), parts of Canada and Mexico, and seven U.S. territories.
Lewis is now an applicant for the national IPM award, to be presented by ESA at its September meeting in Orlando, Fla.
IPM specialist Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and a past president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America, praised “Ed's outstanding contributions to our state, national and global agricultural research.”
“Ed's work involves five of our state's 10 most valued commodities: almonds, a $5.9 billion crop, strawberries, $2.5 billion; walnuts, $1.8 billion; tomatoes, $1.6 billion and pistachios, $1.6 billion (2014 statistics),” said Zalom, a past recipient of the Pacific Branch and national IPM awards. “Also in 2014, California's agricultural exports amounted to $21.59 billion in value. Thus, in many respects, California feeds the world, and Ed's research is integral to controlling insects and nematodes.”
“Dr. Lewis has one of the most diversified research programs that I have known,” Nadler said. “He collaborates regularly with many different constituencies ranging from small startup companies to various commodity boards in order to take information from basic laboratory research and apply it to field situations. What ties together many of these projects is biological control of pest organisms with a focus on sustainability and integrated pest management.”
“Dr. Lewis' lab has been instrumental in using entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) to implement biological control of a large variety of insect pests,” Nadler pointed out. “His research with these nematodes has focused on investigating the ecological factors that relate to host-finding, persistence in soil, and their efficacy in field situations.”
In addition to understanding factors that influence nematode success, the Lewis laboratory “has worked to understand how other approaches, such as novel fertilizers, can work in combination to increase plant productivity,” Nadler said.
“Few scientists working with EPNs have designed and implemented such detailed and relevant studies to characterize what happens to nematodes under field conditions,” Nadler noted. “Importantly, use of EPNs to control naval orangeworm is effective and can reduce the need for pesticide applications.”
Research entomologist David Shapiro-Ilan of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service said that Lewis' research has “contributed immensely to the disciplines of entomology and IPM.”
“Dr. Lewis has clearly emerged as a world leader in research and application of entomopathogenic nematodes or EPNs,” said Shapiro-Ilan.
A native of New York, Lewis received his doctorate in entomology in 1991 from Auburn (Ala.) University and then accepted postdoctoral positions at Rutgers University and the University of Maryland. He then moved to Virginia Tech to join the entomology faculty there.
Lewis joined the UC Davis faculty in 2004. He serves as the editor-in-chief of the Elsevier journal Biological Control. He is also known for teaching two highly popular classes at UC Davis: “Behavioral Ecology of Insects” and “Biological Control of Agricultural Pests.”