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Celebrating Excellence: ESI Reveals Winners of Best Teacher, Senior & Young Entomologist, and Best Ph.D. Thesis Awards 2022

By Shashank PR and Sagar D

 

To recognize and celebrate the exceptional contributions of Indian scientists in the field of Entomology, the Executive Committee of the Entomological Society of India (ESI) has officially announced the ESI Senior Entomologist and ESI Young Entomologist Awards for the year 2022. Additionally, the ESI Best Teacher Award for 2022 has been introduced. Established in 1938, the Entomological Society of India stands as one of the oldest and largest scientific societies in the country, with a primary objective of promoting the dissemination of entomological knowledge and acknowledging the impactful research and innovations in Entomology by Indian scientists. In 2020, ESI initiated the Young Entomologist Award to recognize the significant contributions of young Indian scientists in the field. Building on this initiative, in 2021, ESI introduced two more prestigious awards: the ESI Senior Entomologist Award, aimed at honouring the remarkable contributions of experienced senior scientists in entomological research in India, and the ESI Best Ph.D. Thesis Award, designed to identify and acknowledge the most outstanding Ph.D. thesis of the year, thereby encouraging young researchers engaged in various aspects of entomology. In, 2022 ESI has initiated ESI Best Teacher Award to recognize and acknowledge contribution of teachers in Entomology. 


In 2022, the ESI Best Teacher Award has been conferred to one teacher and the ESI Senior Entomologist Award has been conferred upon two distinguished senior scientists in India who have made substantial contributions to entomological research. The ESI Young Entomologist Award for 2022 has been granted to three dynamic young researchers from India, recognizing their exceptional achievements in the field of Entomology. Additionally, four ESI Best Ph.D. Thesis Award has been announced. For a detailed overview of the ESI awardees for the year 2022 and their noteworthy contributions across diverse areas of Entomology, a brief account is provided in the following paragraphs.



 ESI Best Teacher Awardee


Teaching is a noble profession and Dr. Prabhuraj A is privileged to be in this profession. He is into the teaching of basic Entomology courses like “Fundamentals of Entomology”, “Insect Morphology”, “Immature Insects”, Advanced Insect Ecology” etc to UG, PG and PhD students of Entomology for 25 years. He connects to students from a basic “Chalk and Talk” mode of teaching to advanced ‘Interactive teaching and learning” methods which has a profound impact on the students’ learning and many of his students even today remember lessons he taught.  To bring students closer to the subject, he involves students in organizing “Insect Exhibitions” for school children and general public and take them to regular insect collection trips to various natural ecosystems. Dr. Prabhuraj has adopted more innovative teaching methods such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). He has designed and developed two MOOCs in association with IIT, Kanpur and Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Canada. The first MOOC on “Integrated Pest Management” was launched during 2016. Since then, the course was offered four times and over 25,000 students across the globe have successfully completed. During 2020 the second MOOC on “Diagnosis of crops and stored grains and their Management” was launched for which over 6,000 students have enrolled and completed successfully. He has also developed e-courses on “Insect Morphology” for PG programme and “Insect Morphology and Systematics” for UG programme under NAHEP e-Learning project which are now available to students online at national level. Apart from teaching, he has guided 19 M.Sc. and 10 PhD students in the field of Pest Ecology, Biological Control, Pest management, Insect behaviour etc. As Principal Investigator, he has operated Ad-hoc research projects worth of over 1100.00 lakhs. Over 150 research articles have been published by him in various national and international peer reviewed journals.  As a team leader, Dr. Prabhuraj has designed and developed e-SAP (Electronic Solutions against Agricultural Pests), a novel ICT application for crop health management. The technology is now deployed in Karnataka state providing real time crop advisory on pest management to the farming community. He is bestowed with several awards/ recognitions such as University Best Teacher award, e-INDIA, e-WORLD and WSIS 2018 international award for developing e-SAP including ICAR Jawaharlal Nehru award for his PhD research. He was the recipient of ICAR JRF and CSIR- SRF fellowship for his M.Sc. and PhD programme. Currently Dr. Prabhuraj is heading the Pesticide Residue and Food Quality Analysis Laboratory.

 

ESI Senior Entomologist Awardees


Dr. Poonam Jasrotia attained 18 years of research experience in the field of crop science while working for various organizations of national and international repute such as Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), Volcani Center, Israel (2005-2007), North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA (2007-2008), Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), Michigan State University, MI, USA (2008-2012) and ICAR-Directorate of Groundnut Research (DGR), Junagadh, India before joining ICAR-IIWBR, Karnal. During her research career, she has worked in various research projects covering areas of climate change, pest management, insect ecology, biocontrol, host plant resistance, pesticide residue, nanotechnology etc. Her present research focuses on studying the aphid resistance mechanism in wheat and barley crops, and to identify the novel sources of aphid resistance for utilization in varietal developmental program. Besides, she is also carrying out research on the development of botanical alternatives to synthetic chemicals for the management of stored grain pests of wheat and barley. Dr. Jasrotia has extensively contributed in wheat and barley crop program and was associated with the development of eight wheat varieties (DBW173, DBW187, DBW 222, DBW 303, DBW 332, DBW327, DBW 296, DBWH 221) and two barley varieties (DWRB160 & DWRB182). She has also developed six wheat and barley genetic stocks including three aphid resistant barley genetic stocks (BCLA3, BCLA11-6 & HLR-20). Under the joint student guiding program with CCSHAU, Hisar, she has successfully guided 3 M.Sc. and 4 students of entomology discipline. She has published more than 50 research publications, 3 books, 12 book chapters and more than 100 popular/technical articles. She has been bestowed with Nanaji Deshmukh Award 2022, Best Scientist Award– 2021 by National Education Empowerment and Development foundation (NEEDEF), Distinguished Female Scientist Award (2020) by Plant Protection Science by Society for Agriculture & Allied Research (SAAR), Best Scientist Award (2020) of ICAR-IIWBR, Karnal and Netherlands Fellowship Award (2018) by Govt. of Netherlands.

 

Dr. S. K. Sahoo, has been engaged in Pesticide Residue Analysis during the last 18 years and has made significant research contribution in the field of Pesticide Residue Analysis and conducted studies on dissipation of various pesticide-crop combinations to work out the waiting periods for the safety of consumers, standardized simple, sensitive, and cost effective analytical methodologies for the estimation of pesticide residues for new molecules. As a part of mega research project entitled “Monitoring of Pesticide Residues at National Level”, he monitored different biotic and abiotic components of the environment to assess the magnitude and frequency of pesticide residues. Dr. Sahoo developed his expertise in handling various modern analytical instruments like GLC, HPLC, GC-MS and LC-MS used in pesticide residue analysis. Metabolisms of various insecticides were studied in cotton, mustard, okra, and soil and also evaluated the effect of microorganisms on degradation of pesticide residues in soil. Various experiments were carried out to assess the effects of neonicotinoids on overall dehydrogenase, phophatase and urease activity of soil when applied as seed treatment. He has been associated with various projects as PI and Co-PI’s. He has more than 100 publications including 80 research papers in peer reviewed international and national journals. Dr. Sahoo performed the job of “Technical Manager” and “Quality Manager” in maintaining the accreditation status of the laboratory at PAU, Ludhiana. Dr. Sahoo has been instrumental in establishing a processing laboratory for pesticide residue analysis at RPCAU, Pusa. He has been associated with seven recommendations which were included in PAU Package & Practices. He has guided four M.Sc. and two Ph.D.  students as Chairperson of advisory committee. Also involved in teaching of various courses to M.Sc. and Ph.D. students of Entomology and published two teaching manuals. Delivered more than 40 lectures as resource scientist in various training programme and published four technical bulletins. He is also the life member of several professional organizations and societies

 

ESI Young Entomologist Awardees


Dr. Amala Udayakumar’s research mainly focuses on habitat conservation of solitary bees, nesting ecology and behavior of solitary and social bees. She published the first report of subterranean nesting habit of buzz pollinating bee, Hoplonomia westwoodi from India. She worked on the creation of on-farm nesting habitats for solitary bees to increase their abundance in pigeon pea for increased pollination and seed set. She developed a sustainable eduction technique to hive the feral colony of stingless bees and colony multiplication method to avoid loss of perennial natural colonies and the storage reserves at the natural nesting sites. She reported a trapping technique to attract and trap the natural swarms of stingless bees. She reported the natural abundance and pollination index of buzz pollinating bees belonging to the genus Amegilla as efficient pollinators of Solanaceae plants with unique poricidal anthers floral morphology. She also worked on syrphids as pollinators and predators for aphid management in fennel. She identified an alternate host aphid, Hyperomyzus carduellinus for culturing predatory syrphid, Ischiodon scutellaris at times of non-availability of natural aphid host, Aphis craccivora. She reported the nesting behavior and natural bio control potential of potter wasp, Rhynchium brunneum brunneum against lepidopteran pests. Dr. Amala received DST- SERB Core Research Grant and DST-SERB International Travel Grant to participate in XII International Symposium on Pollination at Cape Town, South Africa. She has published about 27 research articles in reputed National and International journals. 


Dr. Basana Gowda’s research interests are in the areas of pesticide hormesis, plant resistance and biological management of rice insect pests. He has demonstrated multigenerational and transgenerational pesticide hormesis in host as well as parasitoids. He has standardized three field-deployable products, NRRI Trichocard (T.j), NRRI Trichocard (T.c) and NRRI Braconcard (B.h). His efficient and timely supply of quality bioagents to stakeholders in over 10 Indian states has resulted in generating revenue of ~ Rs. 9.00 lakhs for his institute. Notably, he holds an Indian patent for his innovation, “Efficient Portable Insect Collector with Automated Counter”. He has phenotyped several rice accessions for gall midge and BPH resistance and identified resistant genotypes with their mechanisms. He has also contributed in the development of rice variety CR Dhan 410 (Mahamani). His other research contributions are in the domain of pesticide residue budgeting, nano-particles, botanicals for the management of field and stored grain pests of rice. He has associated in developing a mobile application, ‘RiceXpert’ (in 4 Indian languages) and three databases.  As a principal investigator, he has secured nearly Rs. 5.00 crores external research grants from various funding agencies. Additionally, Dr. Gowda is also a DGCA-certified pilot for flying drones. He has been recognized with young scientist award from three leading societies (ESI, SBA and PPAI). He has been adjudged as Best Performer (Scientist) and best external funded project as PI by ICAR-NRRI, Cuttack for the year 2023. Authored >50 peer-reviewed publications, edited 2 books, several book chapters, popular articles, technical bulletins and reports.


Dr Suresh Nebapure work is mainly focused on insect semiochemicals and insecticide toxicology for management of important insect pests. He has identified efficient attractive pheromone blend of maize stem borer, Chilo partellus and also the male specific plant volatiles which could be used to develop combination blend of pheromone and plant volatiles. Similarly, attractant plant volatiles viz., eucalyptol, nerol, benzaldehyde and benzyl acetate have been identified and evaluated in the field for another important polyphagous pest blister beetle, Mylabris pustulata. His research on oviposition deterrent compounds for invasive insect pest Spodoptera frugiperda has led to the identification of two compounds viz., pentadecanoic acid and linoleic acid which can be further utilized for developing management strategy for this pest. The studies on exploration of essential oils and plant volatiles for sustainable management of whitefly, Bemisia tabaci revealed Palmarosa oil as effective contact toxicant. Similarly, citral from Cymbopogon flexuosus leaf essential oil and 1,8-cineole from Eucalyptus globulus essential oil were identifies as a bioactive molecule responsible for the insecticidal and oviposition deterrent activity against B. tabaci. The systematic investigation into the cotton leaf curl virus (CLCuV) infection, alteration of plant volatile release pattern and its impact on behaviour modulation of B. tabaci has led to identification of two promising repellent and one attractant compound against this pest. He has also identifies Potential new fumigant candidates, carvacrol & fenchone, a monoterpenoid class compounds and trans-anethole, a phenylpropanoid against storage pest Callosobruchus maculatus. The studies on alternative insecticides for storage pest management revealed spinetoram as effective contact insecticides against storage pests such as rice weevil Sitophilus oryzae, almond moth Cadra cautella and saw toothed grain beetle Oryzaephilus surinamensis. Dr Nebapure has published more than 45 research papers, 3 book chapters and several popular articles. He has guided 8 M.Sc. students and involved in teaching PG and Ph.D. courses. He is recipient of many awards by other professional societies.

 

ESI Best PhD Thesis Awardees


Dr Anamika Kar has submitted her thesis on “Taxonomic description and Illustration of phytoseiid mites (Acari: Mesostigmata) from West Bengal and North Eastern states of India”. She has contributed to the taxonomy of phytoseiid mites (Acari: Mesostigmata) from West Bengal and North Eastern states of India. Her thesis is a significant contribution on the Indian Phytoseiidae of which the significant contribution is the discovery of 39 new species. Her contributions have encompassed studies on more than 70 species of which 30 new species have been published already in peer reviewed journal. She has published these in the most renowned journals of taxonomy and acarology.

 

Dr. Saranya M has contributed to "Exploring the potential role of parasitoid adaptation to endosymbiont-mediated defenses in the rugose spiralling whitefly, Aleurodicus rugioperculatus Martin (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae)" for her Ph.D. thesis. She focused on identifying the host suitability of Encarsia guadeloupae for Aleurodicus rugioperculatus reared on different host plants and identified the gut bacterial communities. She reported the functional role of gut bacterial communities, evaluated the biological fitness parameters and the parasitic potential of E. guadeloupae. She has been awarded the Dr. Gunathilagaraj Endowment Award for securing the highest OGPA in undergraduate Entomology courses, two best oral presentation awards, and five best poster presentation awards. She has published thirteen research papers, 18 popular articles, three books, and ten book chapters.

 

Dr Ranjith has specialised on the “Morphological and molecular identification of termites” and contributed to the biodiversity aspects of termites from south India, identifying species, developing taxonomic keys, discovering new taxa, analysing the DNA barcodes and developing distribution map. Assessing the nutritional value of dominant termite species was his significant and novel contribution. He has studied 72 species under 26 genera of three families. These include discovery of two new species Neotermes viraklamathi and Ceylonitermellus sahyadriensis in addition to new distribution records. Significance of his work on the gut morphology, enteric valve and crop armatures are pioneering in addition to the explorations on the nutritional status of a south Indian termite. He has published his work in renowned journals.


Dr Rashmi Manohar has contributed to the “Morphometric and genetic variability in Maruca vitrata (Fabricius) populations across India” The significance of this work lies in the exploration of the combination of phenotypic and molecular-based analysis of the Mvitrata populations from India. The results focusing on the morphometric traits along with mtCo1 analyses leafing to phylogenetic analysis of the populations are her significant contributions. Her inferences on the 25 microsatellite markers concluding the genetic variability; the high migratory ability and a recent population expansion are noteworthy. SSR markers developed by her will be useful in future studies of the gene flow, demography, biotype differentiation, host dynamics and developing appropriate IPM strategies for this pest. She has published his work in renowned journals. Dr Rashmi is a recipient of young scientist award and also best poster award of international status.


For further details please check: http://www.entosocindia.org/

 

Shashank P. R., is a Senior Scientist (Entomology) at the Division of Entomology, ICAR- Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. His field of specialization is insect taxonomy and invasive pests. He is the Founding Managing Editor of IE.


Sagar, D., is working as a Senior Scientist (SS) at the NBAIR, Bengaluru. His field of specialization is insect reproductive physiology in relation to heat stress. He is one of the Associate Editors of IE.

Email: garuda344@gmail.com

 

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