Two outstanding Entomology alumni are recognized with prestigious awards
Michelle Smith and David Owens received alumni awards for their career accomplishments and excellent contributions to science.
This year the Entomology Department at Virginia Tech acknowledged the exceptional achievements of two former students. Michelle Smith received the 2023 Entomology Alumni Career Achievement Award for her leadership in agribusiness, her contributions to entomology, and her passion for diversity and inclusion. The department also awarded David Owens with the 2023 Entomology Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumni Award for his excellent contributions to entomology, integrated pest management (IPM), and Cooperative Extension in Delaware. Both award winners and their spouses were invited to Virginia Tech for a day of celebration, including a department wide awards luncheon, and meetings with current students and faculty.
Smith graduated from Virginia Tech in 1986 with her Masters in Entomology with Professor Emeritus and Associate Dean Emeritus, John Eaton. She has worked in agribusiness for her entire career and now leads Seed Applied Technology/Insect & Nematode Management biology & field sciences in Corteva Agriscience Research & Development (R&D). Prior to her current role, Smith has held several other leadership and technical positions within the company. Additionally, she has been intimately involved in the field of entomology, including leadership roles within the Entomological Society of America (ESA), even serving as its President in 2021. As President of ESA, she championed diversity and inclusion initiatives, resulting in updating the Ethics Statement and Policy with an updated diversity and inclusion statement. She was also a driving force for the formation of the ESA Committee on Diversity & Inclusion. Smith has also written key articles in American Entomologist, encouraging diversity and inclusion in the field of Entomology. For these reasons and more, Michelle Smith was recognized for the 2023 Entomology Alumni Career Achievement Award.
Owens graduated from Virginia Tech with both his B.S. in Biological Sciences in 2010, and a Masters in Entomology in 2012 with Professor Ames Herbert. After finishing in Blacksburg, he also obtained a Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Florida in 2016. Owens is currently an Extension Specialist at the University of Delaware specializing in IPM, and he has successfully received close to $800,000 from 11 grants. His ability to convey relevant information to his stakeholders about important and timely issues combines the accessibility of entertainment with down to earth factual information. Owens has also maintains an active research career, including 18 peer-reviewed articles in the last decade, many of which were co-authored with Virginia Tech faculty and other alumni. Owens’ successful early career as a researcher and Extension specialist shows a clear dedication to professional excellence and academic advancement. For these reasons, David Owens was selected for the 2023 Entomology Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumni Award.
The Entomology department is proud of their alumni and pleased to recognize Smith and Owens for their impressive accomplishments. Through their careers and service accomplishments they both embody Virginia Tech’s motto Ut Prosim, “That I May Serve”. They are shining examples of Virginia Tech graduates and we hope current and future students will look to them for inspiration in their own careers.