Dr. Alvin Simmons, ESA Fellow (2023)

Alvin M. Simmons, Ph.D., research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) U.S. Vegetable Laboratory (USVL) in Charleston, South Carolina, was elected as a Fellow in 2023. He is internationally known for his work on integrated pest management in crops.

Simmons was born in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1957 and grew up on a small family farm. He received a B.S. in biology from East Carolina University (1980) and an M.S. (1983) and Ph.D. (1987) in entomology from the University of Kentucky. After graduation and four months of postdoctoral research at the University of Kentucky, he joined USDA-ARS in Tifton, Georgia, where he conducted three years of postdoctoral research and then accepted a permanent appointment in 1990. He transferred to the USVL in 1992 to address a congressional mandate on whiteflies. Shortly thereafter, he also assumed responsibility for an in-house project supporting the registration of pest control products in cooperation with the national IR-4 Project. In 2017, he was also appointed USDA-ARS coordinator for the Minor Use Pesticide Program for Food and Ornamental Horticulture, which concerns research by ARS in cooperation with the IR-4 Project to support the registration of pest control products for specialty crops (e.g., fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, and floral) and minor use on major crops. He served on details as acting research leader and location coordinator for the former USDA-ARS Phil Campbell Natural Resource Conservation Center in Watkinsville, Georgia, in 2011, and for the USVL in 2019. 

Simmons has published over 175 articles, including seven book chapters, and co-released five breeding lines; he has also provided over 350 technical reports. His documented research subjects include host plant resistance, insect behavior and bionomics, geonomics, biocontrol, cultural control, biopesticides, pesticide resistance, and insect-virus-plant relationships. He has given over 250 research talks to domestic and international audiences. His research contributed to the registration of numerous pest control products. The USDA-ARS team of researchers that he leads results in an estimated annual impact of $1.3 billion gross domestic product.

Simmons has provided leadership in entomology including serving as president of ESA (2019-2020); president of the Entomological Foundation (2018-2019); president of the South Carolina Entomological Society (2018-2019); co-chair (with Walter Leal, Ph.D.) of the 2016 International Congress of Entomology (2012-2016), the largest gathering of entomologists to date; member of the Entomological Foundation Board of Counselors (2005-2016); president of the ESA Southeastern Branch (2008-2009); and member of numerous committees. He has received  many recognitions including ESA Recognition Award in Entomology, the ESA Southeastern Branch Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management, IR-4 Meritorious Award, University of Kentucky Department of Entomology Distinguished Alumni Award (first recipient), Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, Honorary Member of ESA, Sigma Xi lifetime member, Gamma Sigma Delta lifetime member, Community Service Award in Agricultural Research & Education, and USDA-ARS Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity Award.

Married to his wife Edith for 20 years, they supported their first-born, Princess (7th grade), to present her first ESA annual meeting paper in 2022 and her second ESA meeting paper in 2023 along with co-author Duchess, their other child (3rd grade).