Entomology 2019

Plenary Speaker

Professor John Pickett

John is Professor of Biological Chemistry, School of Chemistry, Cardiff University, with particular interests in chemical ecology involving chemically mediated interactions between organisms including pests attacking plants and animals.

  • Chemical characterisation of pheromones and other semiochemicals of plants, and animals including insect pests, extending to beneficial organisms antagonistic to pests
  • Stress related chemical signalling by plants and vertebrates including human and farm animals
  • Elucidating biosynthetic pathways to pheromones and other semiochemicals together with associated molecular genetics
  • Exploiting pheromones and other semiochemicals in management of pests and beneficial organisms by ecology management and genetic modification (GM)
John's contributions to the field of chemical ecology have been acknowledged with the 1995 Rank Prize for Nutrition and Crop Husbandry, election to Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1996, membership of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina in 2001, International Society of Chemical Ecology Medal in 2002, appointed CBE for services to Biological Chemistry in 2004 and jointly awarded the Wolf Foundation Prize in Agriculture in 2008.He presented, in 2008, the Royal Society's premier lecture in the biological sciences, the Croonian Prize Lecture, and the Cornell University Lecture in 2009. He was awarded the International Congress of Entomology Certificate of Distinction at the XXIV International Congress of Entomology and in 2014 became President of the Royal Entomological Society. In April 2014, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (US) as Foreign Associate.

Professor Lizette Koekemoer

Professor Lizette is the director of the Wits Research Institute for Malaria and a Research Professor. She started her scientific career in mosquito vector control after graduating with a BSc (Hons) in 1995. Her first, first-authored article on her PhD results were published in 1998 for which she received the Watkins-Pitchford prize for best publication by a young researcher at the South African Institute for Medical Research. She graduated with a PhD in 1999 and continued her research interest in molecular systematics. This interest was later expanded to include insecticide resistance and the molecular mechanisms responsible for resistance. After realising the extent of insecticide resistance and the threat to malaria transmission, her research interests widened to include the development of additional vector control tools or interventions, e.g. entomopathogenic fungi and the sterile insect technique. This led to her interest in the novel fields of research on male mosquitoes and transmission blocking studies. Lizette has published a total of 104 papers and has co-/supervised/hosted 56 students.

In 2007, she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (London) and in 2009 she received the South African Association for Advancement of Science, British Association Silver Medal for the most outstanding scientist under the age of 40 and was the 2nd runner-up in the category Distinguished Young Women in Science in 2011.

Lizette has participated in various World Health Organization activities From 2011-2017, she participated in regional and international meetings on the development of the Sterile Insect Technique for Malaria, Zika and Dengue control, run by the International Anatomic Energy Agency (Vienna-Austria). She is a co-organiser of the esteemed European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Conference on Molecular and population biology of mosquitoes and other disease vectors, held in Crete every 3 years. She participates in committees at the University of the Witwatersrand and are a member of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa; Health Professions Council of South Africa; Molecular and Cell Biology Group and the South African Malaria Elimination Committee.

Dr Aruna Manrakhan

Aruna Manrakhan is a research entomologist and a co-ordinator of the fruit fly programme at Citrus Research International, South Africa. Aruna Manrakhan received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Mauritius and her Master's degree in Environmental Technology from Imperial College, London. Soon after her Master's degree in 1996, Aruna started working on fruit flies under the Indian Ocean Regional Fruit Fly Programme which was led by Professor John Mumford Imperial College. In 2000, Aruna Manrakhan joined icipe, Kenya, and did her PhD on fruit fly feeding behaviour under the supervision of Dr Slawomir Lux and under the "African Fruit Fly Initiative", now "African Fruit Fly Programme". After obtaining her PhD, Aruna Manrakhan continued to work mostly on fruit flies. In 2006, Aruna did her post-doctoral fellowship under the supervision of Dr Pia Addison, at Stellenbosch University. Her post-doctoral studies focussed on the ecology and management of Ceratitis capitata and Ceratitis rosa. Aruna's current research activities are on the behaviour, monitoring and control of fruit fly pests which affect the citrus industry of Southern Africa. Aruna has also been involved in the South African national surveillance and eradication programme targeting Bactrocera dorsalis. Her work has been published in several peer-reviewed entomology journals.

Entomology 2019