Purple-edged copper Lycaena hippothoe, foto: Pekka Malinen

Plenary speakers


Gene E. Robinson   

Plenary lecture: “From Me to We: Searching for the Genetic Roots
of Social Life with the Honey Bee

Gene E. Robinson obtained his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1986 and joined the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989. He holds a University Swanlund Chair and Center for Advanced Study Professorship, is director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) and director of the Bee Research Facility, and is a former director of the campus Neuroscience Program. Robinson pioneered the application of genomics to the study of social behavior, led the effort to sequence the honey bee genome, authored or co-authored over 300 publications, and has trained 30 postdoctoral associates and 23 doctoral students, over half with faculty positions in academia. He uses a mix of evolutionary biology, neuroscience, genomics and molecular biology to study the mechanisms and evolution of social behavior, primarily in the Western honey bee. Robinson served on the National Institute of Mental Health Advisory Council and has past and current appointments on scientific advisory boards for companies and foundations with significant interests in genomics. His honors include: Fellow and Founders Memorial Award, Entomological Society of America; Fellow and Distinguished Behaviorist, Animal Behavior Society; Distinguished Scientist Award, International Behavioral Genetics Society; Guggenheim Fellowship; Fulbright Fellowship; NIH Pioneer Award; Honorary Doctorate, Hebrew University; Fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences; Wolf Prize in Agriculture; member, US National Academy of Sciences; and member US National Academy of Medicine.

Segenet Kelemu

Plenary lecture: “Innovations in insect science for impact”

Dr. Segenet Kelemu is the Director General of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) Nairobi, Kenya. She is the fourth Chief Executive Officer, and the first woman to lead icipe.  Dr. Kelemu is a molecular plant pathologist with extensive experience in molecular determinants of host-pathogen interactions; development of novel plant disease control strategies including transgenics, biopesticides; pathogen population genetics and dynamics; and endophytic microbes and their role in plant development. After more than 25 years in the United States of America and Latin America applying cutting-edge science that saw her garner numerous professional and state honours for an exceptional career as a scientist, Dr Kelemu returned from the diaspora in 2007 to contribute to Africa’s development. Dr. Kelemu is a 2014 L’Oréal-UNESCO Laureate for Women in Science Awards and won various other awards and recognitions.  She is one of the top 100 most influential African women featured in the May 2014 Edition of Forbes Africa. Dr. Kelemu was also listed among the 10 most influential African women in agriculture by the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security. In January 2018, she was recognised by Bill Gates, as one of five ‘heroes in the field’ who are using their talents to fight poverty, hunger and disease, and providing opportunities for the next generation; and in April 2018, the Women Economic Forum awarded Dr. Kelemu their highest award “Woman of the Decade in Natural and Sustainable Ecosystems” for leadership. She has been featured in “the Mind of the Universe”, Time Magazine, the BBC, CNN’s African Voices, among others. She serves in various Boards, advisory panels in major global initiatives and has served in international juries of key science awards.

David L. Wagner

Plenary lecture: “Insect Decline in the Anthropocene: Death by A Thousand Cuts”

Dr. David L. Wagner is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology with research interests in the biosystematics of Lepidoptera, insect decline, and invertebrate conservation, but he has also published on bees, dragonflies, insect behavior, insect ecology, and insect taxonomy. He has authored 9 books and over 230 scientific papers. Much of his current focus is on the consequences of global insect declines, and especially the role of drought as a driver of faunal change across aridlands and the tropics. While his core research interests are in phylogenetics and taxonomy of Lepidoptera, he has several ecological papers that address matters of ecological specialization, latitudinal diversity gradients, and species packing. Wagner has also published on the importance of early successional habitats to plants, insects, and other wildlife in forested landscapes, as well as focused studies on imperiled species of butterflies, moths, and tiger beetles.

Janet Hemingway

Plenary lecture: “Changing the paradigm for measuring the impact of insect control interventions

Wigglesworth Award winner 2020

Janet Hemingway is Professor of Vector Biology at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. She is also a Senior Technical Advisor on Neglected Tropical Diseases for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and has 38 years’ experience working on the biochemistry and molecular biology of specific enzyme systems associated with xenobiotic resistance.

She has been PI on projects in excess of £60 million including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded Innovative Vector Control Consortium. She holds a BSc in Genetics and Zoology from Sheffield University; a PhD on ‘The biochemistry and genetics of insecticide resistance in Anopheles’ from the University of London (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine). She has published over 250 scientific papers in peer reviewed journals.

Professor Hemingway was appointed the Director of LSTM in 2001 and stepped down on 1st January 2019, having overseen a period of exceptional growth of the organisation. This included the awarding of Higher Educational Institution Status & Degree Awarding powers to LSTM. This new status will facilitate expansion of both the research and teaching activities going forward.

Professor Hemingway was awarded the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the Control of Tropical Disease Vectors 2012.

Jianghua Sun

Plenary lecture: “Unveiling Invasion mechanisms by studying multispecific interactions: integration of chemical and and microbial ecology

Dr. Jianghua Sun is a professor of entomology at Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Distinguished Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Principal Investigator for the Group of Chemical Ecology of Forest Insects at the State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects & Rodents. He received his PhD in 1991 at the Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas.

His current research interest mainly centers on invasion biology of pinewood nematode and red turpentine beetle via studying their multispecific interactions among host pines, beetles, and their associated fungi and bacteria, which are dominated by chemical signals that exert feedback amongst multiple trophic levels. This research emphasizes the context-specific nature of multiple-partner associations, and how these associations affect the ability of insects to counter pathogens, host defense, food and pheromone production, and content with plant defensive chemicals. The work employs both chemical ecology and molecular methods to explain the mechanisms of multi-partite interactions that drive successful invasions and mediate symbioses.

He has worked as chair or member of various academic and consultative committees and councils advising government agencies on invasive species management drawing on his knowledge and experience in invasive species and forest insects in general. He has published more than 190 peer-reviewed research papers.

Nina Wedell

Plenary lecture: “Sex, conflict and selfish genes”

Nina Wedell is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Exeter, and recently took up an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship at the University of Melbourne, and has ~30 years’ research experience in evolutionary ecology since her PhD in 1993 at Stockholm University. She is known for her ground breaking discoveries illuminating the role of genomic parasites in generating intragenomic conflict. She has unravelled the fundamental characteristic of selfish genes as agents of sexual selection and sexual conflict, and elucidated the consequences of this for hosts’ mating systems, the evolution of new traits, the creation of biological novelty, and the survival of populations. Her work is characterised by a combination of behavioural, evolutionary, genetic, and molecular biology approaches.

Wedell is the former Non-North American Vice President of the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the former President of the International Society of Behavioral Ecology (ISBE), and the former President of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology (ESEB), and has provided service to The Royal Society as a member of the Rosalind Franklin Award Committee, the Hooke Committee, and the Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship Committee. Her contributions have been internationally recognised, by Crafoord Foundation Awards from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship, and a Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, the Royal Society of Biology, and was among the very first evolutionary biologists elected to the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in 2014 for distinction in neurobiology and ecology and evolution.

Naomi E. Pierce

Plenary lecture: “On wings and wavelengths, or why moths
fly into candle flames

Naomi E. Pierce specializes in the ecology and evolution of species interactions between insects and plants, particularly those involving ants and their many symbionts. Since 1991, she has been Hessel Professor of Biology and Curator of Lepidoptera at the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) at Harvard. Her research has ranged from studies of caterpillars and ants, to genetic analyses of biochemical signaling pathways underlying interactions between plants, pathogens and insects. Her lab has used molecular phylogenies and genomic techniques to analyze the evolution of social behavior in bees and ants, pollination and phytophagy in insects, and sexual selection, signaling and perception in moths and butterflies. As part of her work in the museum, she has been involved in surveying insect biodiversity and natural history on the savannas of Australia, South America and East Africa and in the forests of Southeast Asia, and has participated in digitizing the MCZ Collections as part of the National Science Foundation’s SCAN initiative (TCN for Ants of the American Southwest), LepNet (moths of North America), BigBee (bee images and trait data) and LightningBug (hardware and software to speed up digitization efforts). The author of almost 200 papers and an edited book, Pierce served as a member of National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received honors such as a MacArthur Fellowship and the 2019 International Prize for Biology.


Andrea Battisti

Andrea Battisti is a full professor since 2002 at the University of Padova, Italy, Department of Agronomy Food Natural Resources Animals and Environment (DAFNAE). His scientific research activity is demonstrated by more than 200 publications (Scopus papers on October 2019: 157, H index 33) in international and national journals, books, and proceedings and by the coordination and participation to several international and national projects.
Battisti’s scientific research activity regards the following topics:
1) Ecology of forest insects – Mechanisms of response of insects to climate, population genetics, host plant quality, population dynamics. Model species: processionary moths, spruce and web-spinning sawflies, cone and seed insects, bark beetles.
2) Biological and integrated control of forest pests – Assessment of damage thresholds and cost-benefit analyses of IPM in forestry.
3) Invasive species – Surveillance networks at ports of entry for invasive species of insect herbivores, with the development of automatic devices designed for quarantine species.
4) Insects harmful to humans – Mechanism of action and ecological significance of urticating hairs of arthropods.
5) Biodiversity and conservation of insect populations – Evaluation of ecosystem services provided by insects in natural and managed ecosystems.