Purple-edged copper Lycaena hippothoe, foto: Pekka Malinen

Plenary speakers


Gene E. Robinson

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

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.


Alexey Polilov

Alexey Polilov, Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is the head of the Department of Entomology, Faculty of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University. He obtained the degrees of Candidate of Sciences (PhD) and Doctor of Sciences (habilitation) at Lomonosov Moscow State University. The main focus of his research is the functional and evolutionary morphology of the smallest insects. Alexey Polilov pioneered the study of miniaturization in insects and was the first to study the external morphology and anatomy of many of the smallest insects of different orders and to reveal the unique structural features associated with extremely decreased body size. He used large-scale analyses to advance hypotheses on the factors that limit the minimum body size in insects and distinguished the evolutionary steps of miniaturization. The principles revealed by his work as governing miniaturization in insects have been described in his review article,  “Small Is Beautiful: Features of the Smallest Insects and Limits to Miniaturization” (https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-ento-010814-020924), and in his first-ever monograph on the microinsects, «At the Size Limit — “Effects of Miniaturization in Insects” (https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319394978). His current research on the effects of miniaturization in insects encompasses not only morphology but also genomics, connectomics, the study of flight, and the study of cognitive abilities of the smallest insects. He leads a group of researchers that explore various aspects of miniaturization in the smallest arthropods.


Louise E.M. Vet

Louise E.M. Vet is professor in Evolutionary Ecology at Wageningen University and for 20 years, until November 2019, she was director of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO), one of the largest institutes of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). She is an ecologist working on multitrophic interactions. Her research involves chemical, behavioural and molecular ecology of plants and insects in a multitrophic and community context. The research ranges from fundamental to strategic: from questions on the evolution of species traits and species interactions within communities to the strategic development of sustainable agro-ecosystems that are primarily based on the prevention of pests and diseases (life-support function of biodiversity). She is an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Vet was awarded several international prizes (e.g. the British Rank Prize for Nutrition and the Honorary Membership of the British Ecological Society). She published more than 200 papers in international journals.

Vet is a biologist with a broad interest in ecology and evolution, and devoted to stimulate a positive interaction between ecology and economy. To practice what you preach she was the driving force behind NIOO’s prize winning sustainable laboratory/office complex (www.nioo.knaw.nl/en/building) for which she received the 2012 Golden Pyramid state prize. She stimulates public-private partnerships to encourage new eco-technological developments and she encourages and advises on international projects on nature conservation and ecosystem restoration. She is active in the media and in ‘science for policy’ and a frequently invited speaker.

Vet serves on a diversity of national and international boards and committees. Selection: Chair of the Netherlands Ecological Research Network (NERN); the Environment Steering Panel of the European Academies Science Advisory Council; Chair of the Scientific Programme Indonesia – Netherlands; Circle-Economy.com, WWF-NL, Commonland, DOB-Ecology, etc.

Personal website www.nioo.knaw.nl/users/lvet


Janet Hemingway

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

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 paper