Jeffery Tomberlin, Ph.D., was among nine new Fellows elected by the governing board of the Entomological Society of America, ESA, for 2022.
Tomberlin, professor, Texas A&M AgriLife Research Fellow, Presidential Impact Fellow and director of the Center for Environmental Sustainability through Insect Farming in the Texas A&M Department of Entomology, said being chosen as an ESA Fellow is inspiring.
“I am proud and humbled by becoming a Fellow,” he said. “The company of other Fellows inspires and challenges me to work even harder.”
Election as a Fellow of ESA acknowledges outstanding contributions to entomology in research, teaching, extension and outreach, administration or the military, according to the society.
Phillip Kaufman, Ph.D., head of the Department of Entomology in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said Tomberlin is deserving of the honor and a great example of a scientist committed to both education and research.
“Dr. Tomberlin has been the driver of an emerging industry of using insects as food and feed, which has tremendous economic and environmental benefits. He is a devoted educator, having trained many exceptional graduate students, and he was instrumental in creating the Forensic and Investigative Sciences undergraduate major in the College.”
Tomberlin’s impacts on entomology
To date, Tomberlin has published more than 200 refereed journal articles, with more than 14,000 citations, and has authored or co-authored over 700 platform and poster presentations.
He has also chaired or co-chaired the dissertation committees of 40 graduate students and has served on an additional 38 graduate student committees. Tomberlin said educating and influencing students is the most rewarding aspect of his career.
“The ability to train future scientists is the legacy I am most proud of,” he said. “It’s not just the graduate students and postdocs I’ve mentored, but the hundreds of undergraduates who have worked in the lab or have been engaged in the classroom over the years. To watch them mature and learn the importance of applied science to the world is gratifying.”
In 2019, Tomberlin was recognized as a Presidential Impact Fellow at Texas A&M University, while also receiving the Pathology/Biology Section Award from the American Academy of Sciences for achievement in the forensic sciences.
In 2021, Tomberlin co-led the effort to establish the National Science Foundation Industry-University Cooperative Research Center for Environmental Sustainability Through Insect Farming, which he now directs.
His research to use the black soldier fly to recycle waste and to utilize the insects as food protein for livestock, poultry and aquaculture has led to this species being approved by governments for such purposes globally.
A focus on sustainable agriculture
Tomberlin said his early life and family, especially his grandmother, Laura Tomberlin, who lived through the Great Depression, made an indelible mark on his career choice and interest in sustainable agriculture.
“I followed my heart to do what I do, and it turned into a career in a unique field that has a chance to impact the world,” he said. “I’m fortunate to be in this position and hope that my work represents the ESA and Texas A&M University well, as well as inspires future generations of scientists.”