- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Leal and Simmons, the "twin brothers," co-chaired the 2016 International Congress of Entomology conference, “Entomology Without Borders,” held in Orlando, Florida, that drew nearly 7000 attendees from 101 countries. It was the largest gathering of entomologists in the history of insect science.
"Honorary Member" is the highest award offered by the 7000-member ESA. The recipients must have "served ESA for at least 20 years through significant involvement in the affairs of the society that has reached an extraordinary level,” ESA officials said in announcing the three recipients today (Aug. 24). “Candidates for this honor are selected by the ESA Governing Board and then voted on by the ESA membership.”
Keena's UC Davis connections: she received three UC Davis degrees in entomology: her bachelor's degree in 1983; her master's in 1985, and her doctorate in 1988. (See her website.)
The trio will be recognized during the 2022 Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada, and British Columbia, Nov. 13-16, in Vancouver.
Leal is the sixth UC Davis faculty member to be named an Honorary Member of ESA. UC Davis distinguished professor Frank Zalom of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the 2014 president of ESA, achieved the honor in 2021. Professor W. Harry Lange (1912-2004) received the award in 1990; Professor Donald MacLean (1928-2014), the 1984 ESA president, won the award in 1993; Professor Bruce Eldridge in 1996, and Professor John Edman in 2001.
Leal, an expert in insect communication, investigates how insects detect odors, connect and communicate within their species; and detect host and non-host plant matter. His research, spanning three decades, targets insects that carry mosquito-borne diseases as well as agricultural pests that damage and destroy crops. He and his lab drew international attention with their discovery of the mode of action of DEET, the gold standard of insect repellents.
Leal was recently elected chair of the International Congress of Entomology Council, which selects a country to host the congress every four years and which supports the continuity of the international congresses of entomology. Leal succeeds prominent entomologist May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, editor-in-chief of the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and a 2014 recipient of the National Medal of Science.
“I have big shoes to fill,” he said. (See news story)
As a leading global scientist and inventor in the field of insect olfaction and communication, Leal was named a 2019 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) for his impact in the fields of molecular, cellular biology, and entomology.
Highly honored by his peers, Leal is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (2015) and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2005), ESA (2009), and California Academy of Sciences (2015). He received both the Medal of Achievement (1995) and the Medal of Science (2008) from the Entomological Society of Brazil and the 1998 Gakkaisho from the Japanese Society of Applied Entomology and Zoology. In 2019, ESA selected him to deliver the Founders' Memorial Lecture on "Tom Eisner: An Incorrigible Entomophile and Innovator Par Excellence."
The International Society of Chemical Ecology honored him with its Silverstein-Simeone Award (2007) and the Silver Medal (2012). In 2012, Leal was elected to the Brazilian Academy of Science (inducted in 2013). For his creativity in entomology, Leal received ESA's Nan Yao Su Award (2011) and was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (2019). The UC Davis Academic Senate awarded him both the Distinguished Teaching Award (2020) and the Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award (2022).