Foundation honors Penn State entomologists

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Entomological Foundation, a Maryland-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to build a future for entomology by educating young people about science through insects, has announced the winners of its 2011 student and professional awards. Several entomologists with ties to Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences are among the honorees.

--Shelby Fleischer, professor of entomology, and Tim Leslie, who earned his doctorate in entomology from Penn State and is now a faculty member at Long Island University, were associate members of the European Corn Borer Team that won the Integrated Pest Management Team Award.

Led by researchers at the universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Nebraska, as well as scientists at Dow AgroSciences and Syngenta, the team documented a $6.9 billion cumulative benefit to U.S. corn producers resulting from 14 years of area-wide suppression of European corn borer following the adoption of transgenic corn hybrids expressing one or more insecticidal proteins of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.

--Joe Louis, a post-doctoral scholar in entomology and the Center for Chemical Ecology, is the recipient of the International Congress on Insect Neurochemistry and Neurophysiology Student Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, Toxicology and Molecular Biology.

Louis utilized the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to identify plant genes and mechanisms that are involved in mediating plant defense against the green peach aphid. He is continuing research on insect-plant interactions with specific focus on molecular and biochemical aspects of insect salivary factors that mediate plant defense responses.

--Elina Lastro Niño, a doctoral candidate in entomology, will receive the Lillian and Alex Feir Graduate Student Travel Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry or Molecular Biology. This award is aimed at encouraging graduate students working with insects or other arthropods to attend the Entomological Society of America annual meeting or an International Congress of Entomology.

Niño's dissertation research involves behavioral, physiological and molecular characterization of factors affecting honeybee queen post-mating changes and queen-worker interactions. She also studies factors that alter queen pheromone profiles and how this in turn regulates worker behavior and physiology, which could affect colony success.

The awards will be presented Nov. 15 at the Entomological Foundation's award ceremony, held in conjunction with the Entomological Society of America's annual meeting in Reno, Nev.

Last Updated October 24, 2011