Alumnus and 10 Former or Current UC Davis Entomologists Make List of World's Top 2 Percent

One UC Davis doctoral alumnus and 10 current or former members of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology are listed as among the world's top two percent of entomologists in a database announced by Stanford University with data from Elsevier's “science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators.” 

A separate list, gleaned from the main document, names the world's top entomologists, totaling 708. UC Davis alumnus Murray Isman, who received his doctorate in 1981 from UC Davis, studying entomology and toxicology, is ranked No. 2. He is the dean emeritus of the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Land and Food Systems and emeritus professor of entomology and toxicology at UBC.

The highest UC Davis entomologist/faculty member on that list is No. 22-ranked UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, former professor and chair of the Department of Entomology (now Department of Entomology and Nematology). 

Other UC Davis entomologists on the list, in the order of ranking, are:

Murray Isman. UC Davis doctoral alumnus Murray Isman is internationally recognized for his discoveries and development of botanical insecticides and antifeedants, and for research in insect-plant chemical interactions and insect chemical ecology. He was named a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) in 2014. An excerpt from the ESA website: "Isman was born in Vancouver, Canada on 14 June 1953. He attended the University of British Columbia, receiving his B.S. degree in 1975 and his M.S. degree in 1977. At the University of California, Davis, he earned a Ph.D. in entomology in 1981, followed by a postdoctoral position in insect toxicology at the University of California, Irvine. In 1983 he accepted a position as assistant professor in the Department of Plant Science at UBC, attaining the rank of professor in 1994. He later served as dean of the faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC from 2005–2014. Early in his career he became known for his thorough studies on neem insecticides and azadirachtin, helping to bring some clarity to research of variable quality, dubious claims, and redundancy. More recently he worked with a team to provide research and development support for EcoSMART Technologies Inc., propelling the company to become the world leader in pesticides based on plant essential oils." (See more)

Walter Leal. UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal joined the UC Davis faculty in 2000 and chaired the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2006-2008 before accepting a position in 2008 as professor of biochemistry in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.  An expert on insect communication, he investigates how insects detect odors, connect and communicate within their species; and how they 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. Among his many honors: Fellow of ESA, a trustee of the Royal Entomological Society, and Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Leal co-chaired the 2016 International Congress of Entomology in Orlando, Fla., one of entomology's most prominent events (6,682 registrants from 102 countries).  (See news story)

Jay Rosenheim. UC Davis distinguished professor Jay Rosenheim is internationally known for his research on the ecology of insect parasitoids and predators, insect reproductive behavior, and the application of big data, or "ecoinformatics," methods in agricultural entomology.  He holds a bachelor's degree in entomology (1983) from UC Davis and then obtained a doctorate in entomology (1987) from UC Berkeley. He joined the UC Davis faculty in 1990, and become a UC Davis distinguished professor in 2018. His career has not only led to his being elected a Fellow of ESA and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, but recipient of teaching awards from the Associated Students of UC Davis and the UC Davis Academic Senate; and the Distinguished Student Mentoring Award from ESA's Pacific Branch. He received a 2022 UC Davis Graduate Program Advising and Mentoring Award. Rosenheim co-founded and co-directs the campuswide Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology with Professors Joanna Chiu and Louie Yang of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.   The program aims to provide "undergraduates with a closely-mentored research experience in biology," according to the website.  (See news story)

Harry Kaya. UC Davis distinguished professor emeritus Harry Kaya is internationally recognized for his contributions to insect pathology and insect nematology, which include more than 220 peer-reviewed publications. He co-authored an insect pathology book and co-edited five books in several disciplines including forest entomology, entomopathogenic nematology, and invertebrate pathology. He is known for his research of the utilization of nematodes for biological control of insect pests; interaction between nematodes and other biological control agents; general insect pathology (protozoan, viral and fungal diseases of insects). Kaya focused his research on developing entomopathogens as control agents to reduce pesticide load in the environment and on understanding the ecology and behavior of insect parasitic nematodes. He taught many courses in entomology, including insect pathology, general entomology, biological control, and natural history of insects for non-majors. He chaired the Department of Nematology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology) from 1994–2001. A Fellow of both ESA and the Society of Nematologists, Kaya received the C. W. Woodworth Award from the Pacific Branch of ESA in 1998. In 2000, he received the ESA Recognition Award in Entomology. He also served as an officer in the Society of Invertebrate Pathology and was one of the founding editors of the journal Biological Control.  Kaya, a native of Hawaii, received his bachelor's degree and master's degree from the University of Hawaii and his doctorate from UC Berkeley. (See news story)

Fumio Matsumura. The late Fumio Matsumura, UC Davis distinguished professor of environmental toxicology and entomology, was internationally known as “one of the grand masters of insect toxicology.” A member of the UC Davis faculty since 1987,  he was a former director of the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and former editor-in-chief of the journal, Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology. He wrote the classic textbook, Toxicology of Insecticides, first published in 1975 and used by generations of college students throughout the world, including in UC Davis classes. Matsumura was an original member of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Research Program in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock. Matsumura contributed his expertise on the toxicology of pesticides and contaminants such as tetrachlorodioxin. (See more)

James R. Carey. UC Davis distinguished professor James R. Carey, globally recognized for his research in insect demography, mortality dynamics, and insect invasion biology, is one of the founding fathers of biodemography, an interdisciplinary field uniting the natural science of biology with the social science of human demography. A member of the faculty since 1980, he served as the principal investigator of a 10-year, $10 million federal grant on “Aging in the Wild,” encompassing 14 scientists at 11 universities. He is the lead author of the 480-page book, Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods, published by the Princeton University Press. His peers have singled him out for numerous awards, including the 2015 Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award from ESA;  and the 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award from the UC Davis Academic Senate, given to internationally recognized professors who excel at teaching. Carey is a fellow of four organizations; American Association for the Advancement of Science, Entomological Society of America, California Academy of Science and the Gerontological Society of America. (See more)

Robbin Thorp. The late UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor Robbin Thorp was a global and legendary authority on bees. A member of the UC Davis entomology faculty for 30 years, from 1964-1994, he achieved emeritus status in 1994 but continued to engage in research, teaching and public service until a few weeks before his death in 2019. Thorp was an authority on pollination ecology, ecology and systematics of honey bees, bumble bees, vernal pool bees, conservation of bees, native bees and crop pollination, and bees of urban gardens and agricultural landscapes. A tireless advocate of pollinator species protection and conservation, he was known for his expertise, dedication and passion in protecting native pollinators, especially bumble bees, and for his teaching, research and public service. In his retirement,  Thorp co-authored two books Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University, 2014) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday, 2014). (See more)

Christian Nansen. Professor Christian Nansen, an agricultural entomologist, specializes in insect ecology, integrated pest management, remote sensing, host plant stress detection, host selection by arthropods, pesticide performance, and use of reflectance-based imaging in a wide range of research applications. He joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2015, after holding faculty positions at Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and most recently at the University of Western Australia. "We are seeking to develop food production practices that reduce reliance on pesticides in ways that are both environmentally sound and economically feasible," he writes on his website. "Often, insect pest outbreaks occur in crops that have already been weakened by environmental stressors such as insufficient water or fertilizer. This suggests that optimal management of crop inputs can be used to minimize the risk of pest outbreaks. We are investigating innovative crop management as a form of “preventive medicine” that reduces current reliance on pesticide applications." (See more)

Lester Ehler. The late Professor Les Ehler was a noted entomologist and biological control specialist. The first biological control specialist on campus, he was known as the “quintessential biological control researcher.”  He joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1973, retiring in January 2008. For four decades he championed the use of natural enemies to control agricultural pests and warned of the dangers of pesticides.  He battled such pests as obscure scale and aphids on oaks, stink bugs on tomato, aphids on sugar beet and white fir, and beet armyworm on alfalfa and sugar beet. His expertise ranged from the theory and practice of biological control to the ecology and management of insects and mites in natural, agricultural and urban environments. Ehler co-edited the 1990 book, Critical Issues in Biological Control and served four years as president and four years as past president of the International Organization for Biological Control. He also chaired ESA's Biological Control Section. (See more)

Robert E. Page Jr. Robert E. Page is an internationally recognized honey bee geneticist. His latest book, The Art of the Bee: Shaping the Environment from Landscapes to Societies, 2020, Oxford University Press), focuses on the importance of honey bees and making science understandable to the public. Page created a free and publicly accessible YouTube channel, "The Art of the Bee," at A UC Davis doctoral alumnus (1989) who studied with the late Harry H. Laidlaw Jr., "father of honey bee genetics,"  Page joined the UC Davis entomology faculty in 1989 and chaired the department from 1999 to 2004. He then transitioned to emeritus and was recruited by Arizona State University (ASU) to be the founding director of its School of Life Sciences. His career at ASU led to a series of top-level administrative roles: from founding director of the School of Life Sciences (2004-2010) to vice provost and dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (2011-2013) and then to University Provost, 2014-2015. His many honors include Fellow of ESA, American Association for the Advancement of Science and the California Academy of Sciences; the Humboldt Prize; and the Exceptional Emeriti Faculty Award, from the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.  (See more

Frank Zalom. UC Davis distinguished professor emeritus Frank Zalom, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1978, is an internationally known integrated pest management specialist and an icon in the entomological world. He retired from the university in 2018, but immediately joined the “recall professor” ranks. The Zalom lab has responded to numerous newly identified or invasive pests in the last two decades, with research projects on glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, light brown apple moth, grapevine red blotch disease, brown marmorated stink bug, and spotted-wing drosophila, among others. Zalom served as Extension Integrated Pest Management (IPM) coordinator from 1980 to 1987, advancing to associate director for research in the newly formed Statewide Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) Program in 1984, and then was promoted to director of UC IPM in 1986, a position he held until 2002 when he returned to the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology full time.  A highly celebrated entomologist, he is an ESA Fellow (2008), past ESA president (2014), and he holds ESA's highest honor, Honorary Member (2021).  (See more)

Elsevier. Elsevier, a global information analytics company that helps institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance, published its "science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators" on Oct. 4, 2023. The ranking of scientists is at It is a publicly available database "of top-cited scientists that provides standardized information on citations, h-index, co-authorship adjusted hm-index, citations to papers in different authorship positions and a composite indicator (c-score). Separate data are shown for career-long and, separately, for single recent year impact. Metrics with and without self-citations and ratio of citations to citing papers are given. Scientists are classified into 22 scientific fields and 174 sub-fields according to the standard Science-Metrix classification. Field- and subfield-specific percentiles are also provided for all scientists with at least 5 papers. Career-long data are updated to end-of-2022 and single recent year data pertain to citations received during calendar year 2022. The selection is based on the top 100,000 scientists by c-score (with and without self-citations) or a percentile rank of 2% or above in the sub-field. This version (6) is based on the October 1, 2023 snapshot from Scopus, updated to end of citation year 2022. This work uses Scopus data provided by Elsevier through ICSR Lab ( Calculations were performed using all Scopus author profiles as of October 1, 2023. If an author is not on the list it is simply because the composite indicator value was not high enough to appear on the list. It does not mean that the author does not do good work."

Scientists from China filtered the list to spotlight only entomologists. The list is at