UC Davis Chemical Ecologist Walter Leal Elected Fellow of Royal Entomological Society
Dec. 20, 2011
DAVIS--Chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is a newly elected Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, joining the ranks of such imminent scientists as Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.
Walter Leal is a newly elected Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of America. He also received a chemical ecology award from his native Brazil--a book signed by internationally known architect Oscar Niemeyer.
Leal was notified this week of his selection as a FRES, or Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. Fellows are nominated and selected for their significant contributions to insect science.
The Royal Entomological Society plays a national and international role in disseminating information about insects and improving communication among entomologists. Founded in London in 1833, it is a successor to a number of short-lived societies dating back to 1745. In 1885 Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to the society. In the centennial year of 1933, King George V added the word "Royal" to the title of the organization.
In addition to FRES honor, Leal just received from his native Brazil, the 2nd National Award of Chemical Ecology, an award memorializing his former mentor, Professor Jose Tercio Barbosa. The award includes a book on the Museum of Contemporary Art Niteroi signed by internationally known Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, 104, a pioneer of modern architecture.
Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. Click to enlarge.
“I grew up hearing about the wonderful work of Oscar Niemeyer, but never even imagined that one day I would get his autograph," Leal said. "It is sad, however, that it happened in part because Professor Tercio, a pioneer in the field of chemical ecology, passed away prematurely. Earlier on, Tercio introduced me to the scientific community in Brazil."
"Niemeyer is one of the two most famous contemporary Brazilians," Leal said. "The other is Pelé whom I've known since my years of working as a radio sportscaster to help fund my college education."
Niemeyer, who designed reinforced concrete structures solely for aethestic impact, designed the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City, and many public buildings in Brazil, including the Cathedral of Brasilia, the Museum of Modern Art of Caracas and the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro.
Leal, educated in Brazil and Japan, holds a doctorate in applied biochemistry from Tsukuba University, Japan, and also earned degrees in chemical engineering and agricultural chemistry.
A pioneer in the field of insect communication and on the cutting edge of research, Leal focuses his research on how insects detect smells, communicate with their species, detect host and non-host plants, and detect prey. For his innovative approaches to insect olfaction problems, the Entomological Society of America named him the 2011 recipient of Entomological Society of America's Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology.
The chemical ecology award to Walter Leal from his native Brazil included an architect book signed by internationally known architect, Oscar Niemeyer, 104.
Leal has designed and synthesized complex pheromones from many insects, including scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles and the citrus leafminer. He and his lab discovered the secret mode of the insect repellent DEET.
A native of Brazil, Leal is a Fellow of the ESA and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served as president of the International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE) and of ESA’s Integrative Physiological and Molecular Insect System Section. He received ESA’s 2008 Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology; ISCE’s 2007 Silverstein-Simeone Award; and the highest medals of honor from the Entomological Society of Brazil and the Japanese Society of Applied Entomology and Zoology.
Under his tenure as department chair, the Chronicle of Higher Education ranked the department No. 1 in the country. Leal has published his work in more than 161 peer-reviewed journals in the general field of insect pheromones, insect chemical communication, and insect olfaction, many widely cited by his peers. He has 28 Japanese and two U.S. patents.
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology