Bruce E. Tabashnik is Regents Professor and Head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona. He aims to increase agricultural sustainability and food security by developing and applying evolutionary and ecological principles to improve pest control. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Entomological Society of America, and Royal Entomological Society of the United Kingdom. The Entomological Society of America has recognized Tabashnik with awards for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management, Innovation and Creativity in Entomology, and Lifetime Achievement. He received an award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on behalf of the University of Arizona for his team’s exemplary contributions to eradication of the invasive pink bollworm from the United States. He was selected for the International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food by the Agropolis Fondation and the Researcher of the Year Award by the International Cotton Advisory Committee. Born in Detroit, Michigan, he earned his B.S. in Zoology from the University of Michigan and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University. He conducted postdoctoral research at Michigan State University and held a faculty position at the University of Hawaii before moving to the University of Arizona in 1996.

Research Interests

Dr. Tabashnik’s research seeks to improve understanding and management of evolution of resistance by pests to insecticides and genetically engineered crops. The goal is to make environmentally friendly control tactics more sustainable and thereby enhance agricultural productivity, environmental quality, and human health. Tabashnik’s team analyzes evolution of resistance to insecticidal proteins from the widespread bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). These proteins are highly effective against certain pests yet not toxic to most non-target organisms including arthropod natural enemies, wildlife, and people. Since 1996, crops genetically engineered to make Bt proteins have been planted by millions of farmers in dozens of countries on a cumulative total of over 1.5 billion hectares. Tabashnik’s team integrates results from diverse approaches including genomics to elucidate the genetic basis of resistance, lab and field experiments, and computer modeling to project the consequences of different management tactics. They also conduct retrospective analyses of global patterns of resistance to test modeling projections and hypotheses about factors influencing evolution of resistance. Their work has shaped strategies implemented widely to sustain the efficacy of Bt crops. It was also instrumental in supporting the use of Bt cotton together with sterile moth releases and other tactics to eradicate the invasive pink bollworm from the United States.

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Primary Section

Section 61: Animal, Nutritional, and Applied Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology