Walter Leal: An Entomologist Without Borders

Oct 12, 2015

Professor Walter Leal of the University of California, Davis, is co-chairing the 2016 International Congress of Entomology (ICE) conference, themed "Entomology Without Borders," to be held Sept. 25-30 in Orlando, Fla. Some 7000 entomologists from all over the world are expected to attend.

But he himself could be considered an "entomologist without borders."

Leal has achieved international, national and state recognition and stature for his work in insect communication and his leadership achievements.

Leal, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and former professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. was just named an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Entomology at a conference held in Dublin, Ireland. He was recognized for his lifetime contributions to entomological science at the global level. He earlier was named a fellow of the society.

And, on Oct. 13, Leal will be inducted as a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences,  "a governing group of more than 400 distinguished scientists  who have made notable contributions to one or more of the natural sciences." Leal joins Lynne A. Isbell, a UC Davis professor in the Department of Anthropology, as the two UC Davis inductees this year.

Leal, born in Brazil and educated in Brazil and Japan, joined the UC Davis faculty in 2000. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Entomological Society of America and is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. 

A chemical ecologist, Leal is a past president of the International Society of Chemical Ecology and received the silver, medal, the society's highest honor, in 2012. He was the first non-Japanese scientist to earn tenure in the Japan Ministry of Agriculture. 

Leal investigates the molecular basis of olfaction in insects and insect chemical communication. (See the Leal lab's work on DEET in Entomology Today.) He researches environmentally friendly alternatives to control insects of medical importance, and also targets agricultural pests.  (See research projects.)

Leal is truly an entomologist without borders. In addition to his many global accomplishments and achievements, he is a citizen of the world, speaking his native Portuguese, as well as Japanese, and English.