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News Release

For Immediate Release — August 1, 2008

Three University of Tennessee Entomologists win awards

Photo of Dr. Lambdin

Dr. Paris Lambdin

Photo of Dr. Jurat

Dr. Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes

Photo of Greg Wiggins

Greg Wiggins


For his distinguished work in teaching the importance and mystery of insects, Dr. Paris Lambdin of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has been selected as the Southeastern Branch nominee for the Entomology Society of America’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching.

Lambdin, a professor of entomology, was recognized for his distinguished teaching, outreach, and research during his 34-year career with the UT’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and Agricultural Research.

At UT, Lambdin provides instruction in economic entomology, insect morphology, insect biosystematics, forest insects and diseases, and impact of insects and plant diseases on human societies. He is an accomplished teacher as evidenced by his evaluation of teaching effectiveness receiving high ratings in all of his classes. He has served as major adviser to 26 master’s students and two Ph.D. students and has also served as a member on an additional 22 master and seven Ph.D. committees.

His outreach activities include helping to develop and teach a one-week workshop titled “Insects in the Classroom,” which aids elementary teachers in underprivileged and under-served rural counties in eastern Tennessee. The workshop allows K-4 teachers the opportunity to learn about insects and how to incorporate them into classroom activities to motivate and enhance learning. The response to the workshop is universally enthusiastic, and post-classroom analyses have shown major increases in teacher confidence, attitude, skills, and knowledge.

Dr. Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes received the Entomology Society of America’s Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology. His work has and continues to be primarily focused on the interactions of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins and insect midgut receptors, and the characterization of resistance mechanisms against these toxins.  Bt toxins are used worldwide for the control of important pests of several crops in organic and conventional agriculture, and are considered the most successful biopesticides commercialized to date.

Major contributions of Dr. Jurat-Fuentes and collaborators in this area include the completion of a binding site model to include Cry toxins to be used in second generation transgenic Bt crops, identification of novel Bt toxin receptors, and the use of proteomics to identify resistance biomarkers for the development of monitoring approaches.

Other current research areas in the Jurat-Fuentes laboratory include the characterization of the growth factors involved in stem cell differentiation in insects that results in epithelial regeneration after intoxication, and the identification of insect digestive enzymes for biofuel production.

Also at the conference, Plants, Soils, and Insects Ph.D. student Greg Wiggins received the 2008 John Henry Comstock Award in recognition of his entomology research work on the potential of non-target impacts on two introduced biological control agents, Rhinocyllus conicus and Trichosiricalus horridus, on native Cirsium thistles.

### Contact:

Margot Emery, (865) 974-7141