Dr. Lukasz Stelinski, ESA Fellow (2023)

Lukasz Stelinski, Ph.D., professor of entomology and nematology at the University of Florida's Citrus Research and Education Center, was elected as a Fellow in 2023. A consistent area of research focus has been the practical applications of semiochemicals for pest management, particularly in the area of mating disruption. His research has contributed to the development of a theoretical framework for understanding mating disruption mechanisms in insects. Stelinski played a role in evaluating and refining practical technologies for releasing semiochemicals in crops, leading to the development of now widely available tools. In recognition of his contributions to applications of chemical ecology for pest control, he was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2022.

Currently, Stelinski's research involves investigating the interactions between phytopathogens and their vectors, aiming to develop sustainable management systems for crop production in response to disease invasions. His work on citrus greening disease, which heavily impacts Florida's orange juice trees, has involved managing vector populations and addressing issues such as insecticide resistance.

For example, his lab unraveled the mechanisms conferring insecticide resistance in citrus psyllid populations and developed appropriate remediation strategies. Grower adoption of revised insecticide application schedules eliminated the problem of neonicotinoid and pyrethroid resistance among psyllid populations in Florida citrus almost entirely.

Stelinski's research on plant-insect interactions has revealed the impact of citrus psyllid feeding on plant immunity and growth. Through his studies, he has determined that suppressing vector populations can lead to measurable yield gains, particularly when disease is widespread. In this case, his findings have revealed the utility of incorporating threshold-based management strategies for vectors, reducing unnecessary insecticide sprays while maintaining yield and increasing grower profit.

Stelinski's research has also influenced cultural control methods for disease management in citrus. His team demonstrated the effectiveness of establishing living windbreaks and replacing individual diseased trees instead of replanting entire orchards. Additionally, his research on psyllid vector movement has contributed to the reduction of abandoned orchards in Florida, which serves as a source of disease inoculum.

With nearly 240 peer-reviewed journal articles and over $16 million in grant support, Stelinski has greatly benefited from wide ranging collaborations with many colleagues across the globe and has had the good fortune of working with many brilliant students and postdocs, all of whom have greatly contributed to his lab's success. Those students and postdocs are now active in academia, industry, and the U.S. government. Stelinski is involved in teaching courses and seminars on pest management, chemical ecology, and professional development in entomology, and he actively promotes the implementation of biorational solutions to pest management through his extension program.