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Hellmich Named a Top ARS Scientist for 2002 / February 12, 2003 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Photo: Entomologist Rich Hellmich (right) and technician Randy Ritland collect milkweed leaves near pollinating corn. Link to photo information
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National news release

Magazine feature about Hellmich's research (Feb. 2002)


Hellmich Named a Top ARS Scientist for 2002

By Luis Pons
February 12, 2003

BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 12—The Agricultural Research Service has named research entomologist Richard L. Hellmich as “Midwest Area Senior Research Scientist of 2002" for his research involving the effects of Bt corn on insects. ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hellmich, who works for the ARS Corn Insects and Crops Genetics Research Unit in Ames, Iowa, will receive a plaque and a cash award for making outstanding scientific contributions to insect ecology. He will be honored at a ceremony today at the agency’s Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.

Since joining the Ames unit in 1993, Hellmich has applied his expertise in insect ecology, behavior and genetics to research for evaluating possible effects of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) transgenic corn on non-target insects, and for developing strategies for managing European corn borer resistance to Bt corn.

Hellmich was co-recipient of a 2002 USDA Secretary’s Honor Award for leading a consortium of scientists that investigated the effects of Bt corn pollen on monarch butterflies. The consortium’s research resulted in five articles that were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. Hellmich played a significant role in educating the public about the research.

In addition, he helped lead a regional research committee to deliver science-based recommendations for managing European corn borer resistance to Btcorn to the Environmental Protection Agency. The committee's recommendations were adopted by the EPA and are widely practiced by corn growers in the United States and Canada.

Previously, Hellmich researched Africanized honey bees in Venezuela and Guatemala while working with the ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory, based in Baton Rouge, La. He established a queen-rearing operation in southeast Guatemala's highlands and developed methods to produce non-Africanized queens. Honeybee queens from this operation are in high demand throughout Central America, where importing the insects is not cost-effective.

Hellmich has authored papers on diverse topics including Africanized bee mating biology, European corn borer ecology, insect resistance management, and nontarget effects of Bt corn on monarch butterflies.

He is continuing to develop new concepts, methods and technologies for advancing the use of bio-intensive approaches to integrated and sustainable agriculture and risk assessment.

Hellmich was born in Cut Bank, Mont., and raised in Greensburg, Ind. He received a B.A. in zoology from DePauw University in Indiana and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in entomology from Ohio State University. He also is a collaborator and assistant professor with Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

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Last Modified: 2/11/2003
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