Thomas Sparks, First Graduate Student of Bruce Hammock, Wins International Award for Research in Agrochemicals
July 28, 2011
Thomas Sparks, the first graduate student of entomologist Bruce Hammock, is the recipient of the 2012 International Award for Research in Agrochemicals. (Photo courtesy of Dow AgroChemicals)
DAVIS--Thomas Sparks, who was entomologist Bruce Hammock’s first graduate student at UC Riverside, has just won an international honor for "research and exceptional accomplishments in applying new technology from a number of disciplines to the discovery of new pest control agents."
Sparks will receive the 2012 International Award for Research in Agrochemicals at the American Chemical Society’s 244th meeting, set Aug. 19-23 in Philadelphia. The award is co-sponsored by BASF Corporation and DuPont Crop Protection.
“Tom was instrumental in the discovery and development of a new class of insecticides called spinosids,” Hammock said.
When a professor at Louisiana State University, Sparks completed a sabbatical leave at UC Davis. He is now Insect Management Group advisor for Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis.
In 2009, Sparks was named the 44th Scientist of the Year by the global research and development magazine, R&D. He won that honor via a vote from readers and editors of R&D. Past recipients have included the inventor of the Internet and the first to successfully sequence the entire human genome.
At the time, R&D senior editor Paul Livingstone said: “Tom Sparks is one of the leading entomologists in agroscience and a pioneer in the wave of new green chemistries that are changing the way we control the insects that are a crucial factor in global agriculture." Sparks’ research on “green” insecticides led to spinetoram, a highly effective new insecticide chemistry that eliminates toxic side effects in humans and mammals.
Sparks, now a resident of Greenfield, Ind., grew up in California’s Central Valley. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from California State University, Fresno, and his doctorate in entomology, toxicology and physiology from UC Riverside under Hammock. While at UC Riverside, Sparks won the Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the Entomological Society of America and also received a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship.
Livingston said Hammock played an important role in Sparks' development: “While working in the well-known laboratory of Dr. Bruce Hammock, Tom completed key research on hormones that would guide him into the unexplored regions of entomological science.”
Hammock recalled that Sparks enrolled at UC Riverside to study biological control. “This interest soon took a more physiological and biochemical turn,” Hammock said. “Tom had broad interests even then, ranging from synthesis of juvenile hormone analogs as green pesticides to resistance management, to his thesis work on the fundamental biochemistry of how butterflies and moths undergo metamorphosis.”
Sparks Named 44th Scientist of the Year
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology