Frank Zalom: 'The Michael Jordan of IPM'

Accolades continue to flow.

When UC Davis distinguished professor emeritus and noted  integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom of the Department of Entomology and Nematology received a Lifetime IPM Achievement Award from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR), his colleagues and former graduate students rushed to congratulate him.

Zalom officially retired in 2018 but continues his IPM research and outreach efforts as a recall professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. His 45-year career includes director of the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years.

The best accolade we've heard came from UC Davis doctoral alumnus Mohammad Amir Aghaee: "Frank Zalom is the Michael Jordan of IPM."

Aghaee posted that on the "Insects & Entomology" section of LinkedIn.

Aghaee, now entomology program leader with California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo, was a top-notch graduate student at UC Davis. He won the 2015 John Henry Comstock Award, the highest graduate student award given by the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America and numerous other honors. (See news story) At the time he received the award, Aghaee was a fifth year Ph.D. candidate working on rice water weevil management in California rice. 

Other comments on LinkedIn include:

Carlos Bográn: "No one more deserving of this recognition! Thank you for sharing, this is very special to many of us that have learned from him and his example of professionalism and grace."

David Bellamy: "Congratulations, Frank. Clearly well deserved..."

Carlos Vargas: You, sir, are a great wealth of knowledge..."

Numerous entomologists and organizations turned to X (formerly Twitter) to congratulate Zalom. UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and former chair of the Department of Entomology, posted a  newspaper clipping of Zalom talking to his former student Hannah Burrack, now professor and chair of the Department of Entomology, Michigan State University.  The headline: "Separating the Good Bugs from the Bad."

Comments on Facebook included:

Walter Bentley (UC IPM entomologist, emeritus): "Congratulations, Frank. This is a well-deserved honor."

The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website chronicled Zalom's achievements in a comprehensive news story.  CDPR praised Zalom for “advancing IPM practices in California specialty crops as a preeminent researcher, practitioner and champion of sustainable pest management.”

"Dr. Zalom's work has contributed greatly to advancing safe, effective, and sustainable IPM practices in specialty crops such as almonds, strawberries, tomatoes, and olives,” a CDPR spokesman said. “Through hundreds of presentations and publications, Dr. Zalom has contributed to broad adoption of IPM practices for numerous agricultural pests, resulting in less insecticide use and reduced run-off impacts and high-risk pesticide exposures.”

The news story went on to note that Zalom's career led to his presidency of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA) in 2014, and ESA's highest honor, Honorary Member, in 2021. His peers also elected him Fellow of the ESA, American Association for the Advancement of Science,  Royal Entomological Society (London), and the California Academy of Sciences. 

Among Zalom's many other accomplishments:

  • He served as editor-in-chief of ESA's Journal of Economic Entomology from 2018-2022.
  • The American Entomologist featured him in a 2023 "legends of entomology" piece titled Blue Collar California.
  • He has authored or co-authored 376 journal articles and book chapters. Google Scholar attributes more than 11,000 citations to his papers, and assigns a h-index score of 50 and an i-index score of 207 to these works. (The i-index reflects the number of his papers that have been cited at least 10 times in other research papers.) 
  • He has delivered more 900 presentations at various clientele meetings in California since 1980.
  • He has published well over 400 outreach articles on practical IPM during his 43-year UC career.
  • He served as editor-in-chief of ESA's Journal of Economic Entomology from 2018-2022. This 115-year-old publication is the "most cited" journal in entomology, and well over half of the papers originate from outside of the U.S.
  • He has participated in various international leadership projects involving IPM. (See more)

Today we're sharing three links to the CDPR's Feb. 29th ceremony, honoring five recipients:

Frankly, UC Davis doctoral alumnus Mohammad Amir Aghaee absolutely nailed it:
"Frank Zalom is the Michael Jordan of IPM."