- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Her subject is Walter Reed (1851-1902), the U.S. Army physician who in 1901 led a team of researchers that linked the spread of yellow fever to mosquitoes. Luckhart will speak on "He Gave to Man Control Over That Dreadful Scourge, Yellow Fever” at the awards breakfast on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
The Entomological Society of America (ESA) established the award in 1958 to honor the memory of scientists who've made outstanding contributions to entomology.
Quite familiar with Reed's work, Luckhart served as a National Research Council postdoctoral scientist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Md., after completing her Ph.D. at Rutgers University, New Jersey, in 1995. She went on to accept research and teaching roles at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md. (1996-1998); Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va. (1998-2004); and at UC Davis (2004-2016).
"Shirley sees her work as being part of not only her department, school, and university but of the universe of science,” said Ronald Rosenberg, associate director for science at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, who directed the entomology division at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research when Luckhart held her postdoctoral position. “She is always interested in what other people do and seems to have innumerable collaborators. "We often spoke of what an extraordinary and brave scientist Reed was. I think Shirley Luckhart is a superb choice to honor his legacy while looking into the future."
Luckhart got her start in entomology more than 30 years ago, "and in that time her research on the biochemistry and molecular cell biology of Anopheles mosquitoes has continued the scientific progress sparked by Reed more than a century ago," related ESA in the news release. "Her work has been continuously funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health since 1997, focused broadly on understanding the transmission of the causative agent of malaria by Anopheles mosquitoes. Many of her findings have led to interventions that block both infection and transmission, and, as a result, she has several patents in process." (See ESA news release and a list of past Founders' Memorial Award recipients and honorees.)
While at UC Davis, Luckhart held a joint appointment as a professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, and the Department of Entomology and Nematology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She joined the University of Idaho in 2017 as a professor in both the Department of Entomology, Nematology and Plant Pathology and the Department of Biological Sciences, and as the founding co-director of the university's Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem.
Luckhart was named a 2014 Fellow of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 2017, she received the Medical, Urban and Veterinary Award from ESA's Pacific Branch.
Entomology 2018, themed "Crossing Borders: Entomology in a Changing World" highlights the value of collaboration and cooperation across both geographic and interdisciplinary boundaries.
This year's ESA president is Michael Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Science at the University of Idaho, and former professor and chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.