Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Charleston, South Carolina » Vegetable Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #376482

Research Project: Sustainable Approaches for Pest Management in Vegetable Crops

Location: Vegetable Research

Title: Dr. Ernest James Harris (1928-2018)

Author
item LEBLANC, LUC - UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
item Simmons, Alvin

Submitted to: American Entomologist
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/19/2020
Publication Date: 9/21/2020
Citation: Leblanc, L., Simmons, A.M. 2020. Dr. Ernest James Harris (1928-2018). American Entomologist. 66:64-65. https://doi.org/10.1093/ae/tmaa044.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ae/tmaa044

Interpretive Summary: Dr. Ernest James Harris was a distinguished entomologist; he passed 3 months before his 90th birthday on February 20, 2018. He had an impressive career and was an ARS Hall of Fame inductee. He grew up near North Little Rock, Arkansas, on a modest family cotton farm, and earned a B.S. degree in Chemistry and Zoology (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), a M.S. in Entomology (University of Minnesota), and a Ph.D. in Entomology (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Most of his career with ARS was spent in Hawaii, but he also lived and worked in the Mariana Islands, Guam, and North Africa. Ernie successfully implemented the first eradication program against fruit flies using sterile insect releases and male annihilation, with Loren Steiner. For two years, he served as the coordinator of the USAID-supported North Africa Regional Mediterranean Fruit Fly Suppression Program, that was based in Tunisia and Morocco; he served for 13 years as Research Leader of the USDA-ARS Biology and Ecology Research Unit of the Tropical Fruit and Vegetable Research Laboratory in Honolulu, HI. In addition to the U.S., his fruit fly research has been valuable to governments and growers in Pakistan, Egypt, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Africa, Réunion, French Polynesia, Micronesia, and other locations. Ernie received much recognition for his achievements including prestigious awards from USDA-ARS, the Royal Entomological Society of London, the Chilean government, the state of Arkansas, the University of Hawaii, the Entomological Society of America, NAACP, and the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. His most prestigious recognition was receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in November 2016 for the extraordinary contribution by a former Marine assigned to Montfort Point (North Carolina). This is the legacy of a scientist who has gone from cotton farming to serving the entomology and international agricultural communities.

Technical Abstract: Dr. Ernest James Harris was a distinguished entomologist who passed on February 20, 2018 -- 3 months before his 90th birthday. He had an extraordinary career and was an ARS Hall of Fame inductee. A native of North Little Rock, Arkansas, and the eldest of six siblings, Ernie grew up on a modest family cotton farm where he became interested in entomology while helping his mother manage insect pests in their family garden. Ernie earned his B.S. degree in Chemistry and Zoology at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and his M.S. in Entomology from the University of Minnesota with his thesis on the study of the ecology of Cryptorhynchus weevils. While employed with USDA-ARS, Ernie earned his Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Most of his career with ARS was spent in Hawaii, but he also lived and worked in the Mariana Islands, Guam, and North Africa. Ernie successfully implemented the first eradication program against fruit flies (Bactrocera dorsalis and Zeugodacus cucurbitae) using sterile insect releases and male annihilation, with Loren Steiner. Ernie carried out research on fruit fly field ecology and control. For two years, he served as the coordinator of the USAID-supported North Africa Regional Mediterranean Fruit Fly Suppression Program, that was based in Tunisia and Morocco. Dr. Harris served for 13 years as Research Leader of the Biology and Ecology Research Unit of the Tropical Fruit and Vegetable Research Laboratory in Honolulu. In addition to the U.S., his fruit fly research has been valuable to governments and growers in Pakistan, Egypt, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Africa, Réunion, French Polynesia, Micronesia, and other locations. Ernie received much deserved recognition for his achievements, with prestigious awards from USDA-ARS, the Royal Entomological Society of London, the Chilean government, the state of Arkansas, the University of Hawaii, the Entomological Society of America, NAACP, and the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. His most prestigious recognition was receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in November 2016 for the extraordinary contribution by a former Marine assigned to Montfort Point (North Carolina). This is the legacy of a scientist who has gone from cotton farming to serving the entomology and international agricultural communities.