Frank Zalom: Champion of IPM!

IPM specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology and Extension specialist at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
IPM specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology and Extension specialist at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When you hear those three little words, "Integrated Pest Management," you immediately think of two words, "Frank Zalom." 

They go together like superman (Clark Kent) and supervillian (Lex Luthor). Or like Coccinellidae (lady beetles) and Aphididae (aphids).

Fact is, IPM specialist Frank Zalom, a distinguished professor of entomology and Extension entomologist at the University of California, Davis, targets pests. He solves pest problems the IPM way--using effective, biologically based pest management approaches.

Over the last four decades, he has honed an incredible career. Absolutely incredible.

And now he's receiving a well-deserved lifetime achievement award at the Ninth International IPM Symposium March 19-22 in Baltimore.

Officials praised Zalom for his outstanding leadership and public service at the regional, state, national and international levels; his stellar academic accomplishments in agricultural sustainability and IPM; his strong work ethic, service, courage and integrity, all driven by “his insatiable curiosity and passion to solve problems in the agricultural landscape”; and his tireless advocacy for IPM as THE way to address pest concerns in a sustainable, economical and environmentally acceptable manner.

“Dr. Zalom continues to advance the science and implementation of IPM,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “His integrity, service and respect for all are legendary.”

At the Baltimore seminar, Zalom will deliver a presentation on “The ‘I' in IPM: Reflections on the International IPM Symposium and Evolution of the IPM Paradigm.” He will reflect on his 16 years co-chairing the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities' National IPM Committee, the committee that launched the symposia. Zalom also played a role in organizing the first four IPM Symposia.

In addition, Zalom and fellow members of the UC European Grapevine Moth Team will receive an award of excellence for contributing to eradication of the pest in 2016--only six years after its discovery in California vineyards.

The only other lifetime achievement award recipient this year also has a UC connection: Peter Goodell, UC IPM advisor emeritus, affiliated with the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. And a longtime friend and colleague of Frank Zalom.

Zalom, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, teaches arthropod pest management, targets pests using IPM methods, and develops major agricultural IPM programs for California's specialty crops.

Zalom is a past president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America; co-founder of the International IPM symposia; and for 16 years, directed the University of California Statewide IPM Program, considered “the gold standard” of IPM programs.

Zalom's 16 years at the helm of the UC IPM program set the standard, nationally and globally, for subsequent IPM programs. He established a statewide, interdisciplinary IPM team of Cooperative Extension farm advisors, and oversaw development of the website's online degree-day tool, and the database of degree-day models that remains widely used by California's county-based extension staff and crop consultants.

“Advancing the science and implementation of IPM will reduce the impact of pests and pest control on agriculture and the environment,” Zalom said. “This is critical in California, where we grow more than a third of our nation's vegetables and two-thirds of our nation's fruits and nuts. California agriculture is a $42.6 billion industry that generates at least $100 billion in related economic industry.”

The Zalom laboratory has helped establish biologically based IPM programs for arthropod pests of California tree, vine, small fruit and vegetable crops valued at over $19 billion. The lab has addressed 17 invasive species introductions, among them southern green stink bug, silverleaf whitefly, glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, spotted wing drosophila, and most recently European grape vine moth, brown marmorated stink bug and bagrada bug. Specific programs have reduced insecticide use and pesticide runoff into surface waters, and resulted in more effective management of several key and invasive pests of specialty crops.

Zalom interacts broadly with research colleagues, extension educators, growers, consultants, environmental groups, and public agency personnel throughout the state, nation and world to advance the science and use of IPM. He has served on scores of national ad hoc committees of agencies and organizations that shaped IPM policy and directions. He was recently appointed to a new Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) task force that will produce a white paper on behalf of the organization on Integrated Pest Management. He previously served on the task force for the CAST Issue Paper, “Feasibility of Prescription Pesticide Use in the United States."

Zalom's professional goals are four-fold (1) to solve pest problems using effective, biologically based pest management approaches; (2) to provide IPM leadership at the regional, state, national and international levels, (3) to maintain a vigorous cutting edge research program in entomology, especially related to IPM and invasive species; and (4) to educate a new generation of IPM practitioners through effective undergraduate teaching and graduate student mentoring.

Zalom has pursued his goals through a combination of fundamental studies related to pest biology, physiology, and community ecology; problem-focused, hypothesis-driven management research; and community-oriented extension efforts. “I focus my research on exploiting weaknesses in the biology of a pest species and its niche in the agroecosystem or the broader landscape,” Zalom said.

Among his many accomplishments:

  • Appointed the first Editorial Board chair of ESA's new Journal of Integrated Pest Management.
  • Founding member of the steering committee for the USDA-NIFA Pest Management Information Platform for Extension (ipmPIPE), an effort intended to assess risk of disease and insect outbreaks.
  • Co-principal investigator of the USDA grant for $3.49 million that originally funded the Western IPM Center, located at UC Davis
  • Numerous leadership roles in the Entomological Society of America (ESA), including president in 2014, member of ESA's presidential line for four years and Governing Board member for four years. He also served as the president of the Entomological Foundation and first chair of ESA's new Science Policy Committee.
  • Author of more than 350 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books, and has served as major professor for 12 Ph.D. students and seven master's students.
  • Recipient of multiple awards at UC Davis including one for his outstanding mentoring, of women graduate students and post-doctoral scholars.
  • Co-chair of the International Entomology Leadership Summit in 2016 in Orlando,Fla.

Zalom is a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, Entomological Society of America, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Royal Entomological Society (London). Previous IPM awards include the Entomological Foundation's IPM Team Award and Excellence in IPM Award, and the Perry Adkisson Distinguished Speaker Award from Texas A&M University. He is the only entomologist to be awarded the BY Morrison Memorial Medal for horticultural research, presented by the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the American Society for Horticultural Science.

Zalom, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980, shortly after receiving his doctorate of entomology in 1978, earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology and ecology from Arizona State University, Tempe.

Now it's off to Baltimore to receive a well-deserved honor. Congratulations, Frank Zalom, champion of IPM!