Dr. Edward L. Vargo, ESA Fellow (2023)

Edward L. Vargo, Ph.D., professor and endowed chair in urban entomology at Texas A&M University, was elected as a Fellow in 2023. He is internationally recognized for research in the reproductive biology and molecular ecology of social insects and urban insect pests.

Vargo was born in San Jose, California, in 1958 and grew up in the Bay Area, where he was greatly influenced by the redwood forests and rugged coastline. He received a B.S. in biology from Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, in 1980. Vargo earned a Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Georgia in 1986 under the joint supervision of Murray Blum, Ph.D., and David Fletcher, Ph.D. His Ph.D. research focused on social regulation of reproduction and development in fire ant colonies. In 1987 he was awarded a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship to work with Luc Passera, Ph.D., at the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France, on regulation of reproduction and caste development in Argentine ants. From 1989 to 1998, he was a research scientist in the laboratory of Larry Gilbert, Ph.D., at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied the reproductive biology of fire ants. He joined the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University as assistant professor in 1998, attained the rank of professor in 2009, and served as interim department head from 2013 to 2014. In 2014 he assumed his current position in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University.

Vargo's research in urban entomology is interdisciplinary, utilizing genetics, behavior, and physiology to study the reproductive biology, population genetics, and management of urban insect pests. His genetic studies investigate the breeding structure of termite and ant colonies, the dispersal and population biology of bed bugs and cockroaches, the invasion biology of urban pests, and management approaches aimed at eliminating colonies of termites and ants. His research on chemical communication in social insects focuses on the role of queen pheromones in caste determination, king and queen recognition by workers, and regulation of reproduction in colonies of ants and termites. Vargo's group has published more than 180 scientific papers and book chapters. He has given or co-authored more than 300 presentations at regional, national, and international meetings. He has mentored 10 Ph.D. students, nine M.S. students, 11 postdoctoral researchers, and six visiting scientists.

Vargo has held leadership positions in professional societies, including president of the ESA Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology Section; president of the North Carolina Entomological Society; and president and secretary-treasurer of the North American Section of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects. He has served as associate editor for Environmental Entomology, and he has advised the Korean and Australian governments on the interception and remediation of introduced fire ants. His accomplishments have been recognized with numerous awards including the ESA Recognition Award in Urban Entomology, the Distinguished Achievements Award of the National Conference on Urban Entomology, and the Crown Leadership Award by Syngenta and PCT Media Group.

He and his wife Annette deFerrari are avid cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts. He has three children and two grandchildren.