Lukasz Stelinski, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) entomology professor, has been elected a fellow of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) for 2023. He is one of six recognized for outstanding contributions to entomology via research, teaching, Extension, administration, military service or public engagement and science policy.
Stelinski works at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. A consistent area of his research focus has been the practical applications of semiochemicals for pest management, particularly in the area of mating disruption. His research has contributed to the development of a theoretical framework for understanding mating disruption mechanisms in insects.
He helped evaluate and refine practical technologies for releasing semiochemicals in crops, leading to the development of now widely available tools. He was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2022.
Stelinski is now investigating the interactions between phytopathogens and their vectors, aiming to develop sustainable management systems for crop production in response to disease invasions.
His HLB work has involved managing vector populations and addressing issues such as insecticide resistance. For example, his lab unraveled the mechanisms conferring insecticide resistance in citrus psyllid populations and developed appropriate remediation strategies. Grower adoption of revised insecticide application schedules eliminated the problem of neonicotinoid and pyrethroid resistance among psyllid populations in Florida citrus almost entirely.
Stelinski’s research on plant-insect interactions has revealed the impact of citrus psyllid feeding on plant immunity and growth. Through his studies, he has determined that suppressing vector populations can lead to measurable yield gains, particularly when disease is widespread. In this case, his findings have revealed the utility of incorporating threshold-based management strategies for vectors, reducing unnecessary insecticide sprays while maintaining yield and increasing grower profit.
His research has also influenced cultural control methods for disease management in citrus. His team demonstrated the effectiveness of establishing living windbreaks and replacing individual diseased trees, instead of replanting entire groves. Additionally, his research on psyllid vector movement has contributed to the reduction of abandoned groves in Florida. Abandoned groves are a source of disease inoculum.
The researcher has benefited from wide-ranging collaborations with many colleagues across the globe. He has worked with many students and postdocs. Those students and postdocs are now active in academia, industry and the U.S. government.
Stelinski helps teach courses and seminars on pest management, chemical ecology and professional development in entomology, and he actively promotes the implementation of biorational solutions to pest management through his Extension program.
The others named 2023 fellows of the Entomological Society of America are:
- Cassandra Extavour, Harvard University
- James Hagler, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service
- Alvin M. Simmons, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service
- Edward L. Vargo, Texas A&M University
- Douglas B. Walsh, Washington State University