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K-State Today

March 9, 2011



Professor of entomology receives recognition award

By David Margolies

Kun Yan Zhu

Kun Yan Zhu, professor of entomology, is the 2011 recipient of the Entomological Society of America North Central Branch's recognition award in entomology. This award recognizes entomologists who are making significant contributions to agriculture. The award will be officially presented at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society's North Central Branch March 13-16, in Minneapolis, Minn.  

Zhu is an internationally recognized leader in insect molecular toxicology. His group was the first to document an acetylcholinesterase paralogous gene in the greenbug. This discovery has led to the identification of the paralogous gene and many mutations of this gene associated with insecticide resistance in several insect species by other scientists worldwide.

This work was cited as a "breakthrough in this toxicological riddle" by other scientists in 2007. His research group also documented for the first time that increased expression of the paralogous gene was an important mechanism of resistance to many commonly used organophosphate insecticides in the greenbug.

In a project to study Bt and insect gut interactions, his team has revealed 52 candidate genes potentially involved in Bt toxicity and resistance in the European corn borer by using genomic approaches. More recently, Zhu’s group developed a nanoparticle-based RNAi method via insect feeding. This research has significantly advanced technologies for RNAi in insects, and it is expected to have great potential for developing innovative RNAi technologies for insect control. Much of Zhu’s innovative research has been widely highlighted by national and international media, including Innovations, Nanowerk News, Science Daily and Technology Daily. 

Zhu received his bachelor's degree in plant protection from Zhejiang Agricultural University in China in 1982 and earned master's and doctorate degrees in biology from Utah State University in 1989 and 1992, respectively. After completing his postdoctoral research at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he joined the entomology faculty at Kansas State University in 1995. He was promoted to associate professor in 2002 and full professor in 2007. Zhu has authored or co-authored nearly 100 peer-reviewed journal manuscripts, 11 book chapters and 247 presentations, including 80 invited. He has served as a subject editor for Journal of Economic Entomology, associate editor for Pest Management Science, and he is an editorial board member for Acta Entomologica Sinica, Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology, and Insect Science. Zhu also has been a peer reviewer of several hundred manuscripts for nearly 50 scientific journals. He is a member of American Chemical Society, Entomological Society of America, Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture and Sigma Xi. He also was the 2009 recipient of the C.V. Riley achievement award from the North Central Branch.