College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences


Don't look now, but a host of world-class entomologists are in your back yard

By Nicole Miller-Coleman |
Riverside, Ca –

According to the Center for World University Rankings, an organization that measures the world’s top degree-granting institutions of higher education in 227 subject categories, the UCR entomology department now ranks No. 2 in the world.

Richard Redak, Ph.D., professor and chair of the UCR Department of Entomology, points out that entomology is a not a limited field of study, but rather one that can, and does, span departments and disciplines.

According to Redak, insects are humans’ greatest competitors on the planet.

“Entomologists seek to understand and find ways to prevent insects from eating our food, eating our wood structured buildings, the clothes on our backs and from transmitting very deadly diseases.”

In their pursuits, UCR’s entomology department researchers are garnering attention from across the country and around the globe.

Last fall, Ring Cardé, Ph.D., was recognized by the International Congress of Entomology (ICE) with a Certificate of Distinction for Outstanding Achievements. Cardé’s primary research interests focus on communication by pheromones in moths, and host-finding by female mosquitoes.

In June, Alec Gerry, Ph.D., cooperative extension specialist and professor of entomology at UCR received the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in Veterinary Entomology for outstanding contributions to animal health and productivity.

In 2016, Gerry also received the Experiment Station Section Award for Excellence in Multi-state Research, which recognizes one project each year for scientific quality, a high level of collaboration and professional leadership demonstrated in conducting the project.

And last month, Naoki Yamanaka, Ph.D., assistant professor of entomology, was named a Pew scholar in the biomedical sciences by The Pew Charitable Trust — a first for UC Riverside.

Students working toward careers in entomology are keenly aware of the department’s reputation. Redak said that while it tends to vary with the economy, demand for UCR’s entomology graduate program is high. In recent years, about 50 students annually have vied for the 10 to 12 available spots.

His advice for aspiring entomologists? Pursue STEM subjects, of course. And, “don’t view entomology as a restrictive discipline. It is all things biological, but with six legs.”