Congratulations to Melody Keena, UC Davis alumna and entomologist extraordinaire.
Keena, a research entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Research Station in Hamden, Conn., is a newly selected Honorary Member of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), the organization's highest honor.
She joins two other Honorary Member recipients this year: Walter Soares Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a former chair of the Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology), and research entomologist Alvin Simmons of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. (See UC Davis news story)
Keena, an international expert on the biology and behavior of the spongy moth (formerly known as the gypsy moth) and the Asian longhorned beetle, focuses her research on “developing the knowledge and tools needed for exclusion, eradication or control of non-native invasive forest pests and investigating basic biology, behavior, and population genetics,” according to the ESA officials who announced her Honorary Membership. "Honorary Membership recognizes extraordinary service by ESA members who have had significant involvement in the affairs of the Society for at least 20 years."
Keena may be the first Honorary Member to receive all three degrees in entomology from UC Davis: a bachelor's degree obtained in 1983, a master's, 1985, and a doctorate in 1988. Professor Jeff Granett served as her major professor for both her graduate degrees.
Keena initially chose to attend UC Davis because of its renowned School of Veterinary Medicine. An entomology course changed her plans. "I had taken a non-majors entomology class and liked it, so I took the first majors course and told myself that if I got an A in it that would be my major. Then I did work study, helping in entomology labs so I was exposed to research. That led me to do the masters to see if research was for me. Obviously, I got hooked on entomology."
At UC Davis, Keena worked on spider mite pesticide resistance management in the almond cropping system. After receiving her doctorate, she headed to Connecticut as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Connecticut. She's served as a research entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Hamden since 1992 and is now the lead scientist in the lab.
So, what sparked Melody Keena's initial interest in entomology? Fence lizards!
“They eat live insects so I had to find them,” said Keena, who was born in the Los Angeles area but moved at age 4 to Chico and then to Paradise as a teenager. “We fed them any insects we could find, since store-bought were too expensive. We fed them mostly crickets and grasshoppers. I also reared some mealworms at home for the winter.”
In a letter of support for her Honorary Member nomination, Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor, president of ESA in 2014, and an Honorary Member of ESA since 2021, said he has known Keena since 1983 when she "became a graduate student at UC Davis." He also served with her on a number of ESA committees.
"Melody is an internationally known researcher on biology and control of non-native forest insect pests with the US Forest Service, and has gained a number of significant accolades for her research and leadership," Zalom wrote. "Her CV illustrates the breadth and quality of her journal articles that present important biological studies of many of the most notorious invasive forest insects in North America this century. What sets Melody apart from other outstanding entomology researchers in my experience is the quantity, quality and impact of her service to our Society over her almost 40 years as an ESA member." (Read her accomplishments on Department of Entomology and Nematology website).
ESA has now singled out six UC Davis faculty members as recipients of its highest award:
- 2022: UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal
- 2021: UC Davis distinguished professor Frank Zalom
- 2001: Professor John Edman
- 1996: Professor Bruce Eldridge
- 1993: Professor and 1984 ESA President Donald MacLean (1928-2014)
- 1990: Professor Harry Lange (1912-2004)
Melody Keena may be in a class by herself. And that could be music to the Aggie Nation! Nobody else on the Honorary Member list appears to have received three entomology degrees from UC Davis.
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).
But he's an entomologist with an incredible reach that extends in practically all corners of the insect science world. He's like the equivalent of a griffinfly from the extinct genus Meganeuropsis, a huge insect with a wingspan of 27 inches.
Indeed, the reach of UC Davis distinguished Frank Zalom UC Davis distinguished professor, is quite comparable.
Zalom, a noted integrated pest management (IPM) specialist and a past president of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), is a newly elected Honorary Member of the ESA, an honor bestowed for his “long-term dedication and extraordinary contributions” to the 7000-member global organization. Honorary Member is the highest honor that can be afforded an ESA member.
Zalom, praised as “an entomological giant” and “the consummate ambassador to entomology,” joins five other entomologists as Honorary Members. They will be honored at the ESA's annual meeting, Entomology 2021, set Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Denver.
“Honorary membership acknowledges those who have served ESA for at least 20 years through significant involvement in the affairs of the society that has reached an extraordinary level,” an ESA spokesperson said. “Candidates for this honor are selected by the ESA Governing Board and then voted on by the ESA membership.”
“Dr. Zalom is phenomenal for his sustained service of leadership, research, teaching and mentoring, and in my opinion, he is one of the world's most influential, accomplished and inspirational entomologists,” wrote nominator James R. Carey, a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and an ESA Fellow. ESA Honorary Member and ESA Fellow Philip Mulder, emeritus professor and former department chair at Oklahoma State University, noted: “Frank is and was the consummate ambassador to entomology throughout his entire career and around the globe on multiple occasions.”
A 47-year member of ESA, Zalom is an emeritus professor with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and currently a recall professor, continuing his work on IPM of tree, vine and fruiting vegetable crops through several major USDA and CDFA research grants he has received since retiring. Since his retirement, he has brought in more than $1 million in grants. Zalom is also working with Professor Rachael Goodhue, chair of the UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics Department on an ongoing pesticide policy research project involving "economic and pest management analyses of potential regulations in strawberry, tomato, and other fruiting crops" in collaboration with CDFA's Office of Pesticide Policy and Analysis.
Zalom directed the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) for 16 years (1986-2002). “Frank elevated it to 'the gold standard' of the world's IPM programs, emphasizing ecologically based pest management programs for agriculture, urban settings and natural resources,” Carey wrote.
The UC Davis entomologist has authored nearly 400 journal publications or book chapters, and more than 400 other publications. He holds two U.S. patents.
Passionate about moving science policy forward, Zalom served as ESA's Science Policy Committee Chair in 2015. In 2018, he co-organized a two-day summit, Grand Challenges in Entomology in South America, hosted by the Entomological Society of Brazil. The summit focused on invasive species, public health, and sustainable agriculture, and included invited leadership from all entomology societies in Central and South America. Zalom also co-organized the North American and Pacific Rim Invasive Insect and Arthropod Species Challenge Summit, jointly hosted by the entomological societies of America, Canada and British Columbia in Vancouver, BC in 2019.
Highly honored by his peers, Zalom is a Fellow of four scientific organizations: ESA; the American Association for the Advancement of Science, California Academy of Sciences, and Royal Entomological Society. His numerous awards include the BY Morrison Memorial Medal from USDA-ARS and American Society for Horticultural Science (2017), ESA's Recognition Award (2002), Outstanding Achievement Award in Extension Entomology (1992), Excellence in IPM Award (2010), IPM Team Award (2008), and the Pacific Branch Woodworth Award (2011).
Among his UC Davis recognitions are the Consortium for Women in Research Outstanding Mentor Award (2013), James H. Meyer Award (2004), and Academic Senate Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award (2017).
A native of Chicago, Frank moved to Arizona with his family at age 4. He received his bachelor's degree and master's degrees in zoology and ecology from Arizona State University, 1973 and 1974, respectively, and his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1978. He joined the University of Minnesota faculty as assistant professor before returning to UC Davis in 1980.
“Throughout his career the depth of his knowledge in IPM was matched by the strength of his commitment to teaching students and postdocs, as well as by the power of his dedication to helping growers in all areas of agricultural entomology,” Carey wrote. “A former Fulbright Scholar, Frank is both a visionary and dedicated entomologist who has devoted his life's work to advancing entomology and ESA programs. His expertise is in great demand from colleagues, agriculturists, policy makers, students and more. He is the consummate entomologist, intricately skilled and highly accomplished.”
Zalom is the fifth UC Davis scientist to be selected ESA Honorary Member. W. Harry Lange (1912-2004) received the award in 1990; Donald MacLean (1928-2014), the 1984 ESA president, won the award in 1993; Bruce Eldridge in 1996, and John Edman in 2001.