Top National Award Won by ASU Faculty Member!

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ASU Faculty Member First African-American to Win National Entomological Award!

- ASU's Dr. Michelle Samuel-Foo to receive top award bestowed by Entomological Society of America. 

- By: Kenneth Mullinax/ASU 

An Alabama State University faculty member is the first African-American to be awarded the Founders Memorial Recognition, one of the highest nationwide honors given by the Entomological Society of America (ESA). The award will be given during ESA’s annual meeting, November 15-18 in Orlando, Fla. 

Dr. Michelle Samuel-Foo, an assistant professor at the University, not only will receive the prestigious award, she also will deliver the ESA's Founders’ Memorial Lecture, which will honor a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service Hall of Fame scientist and Congressional Gold Medal recipient. 

"This is an absolute once-in-a-lifetime honor for me being named as a recipient of this top award presented by my professional association nationwide. To be the very first African-American and one of a few women to win this award since it was created in 1958 reminds me of how far we have come," Samuel-Foo said. "As a young graduate student, I remember attending my first national Entomological Society meeting and seeing a revered professor getting this award at the end of his very long career. However, never in my most daring dream, did I believe that one day, I would be in his same place receiving this honor — not at the end of my career, but in the mid-part of it.” 

In recommending Samuel-Foo for this recognition, Dr. Alvin M. Simmons, president of the Entomological Society of America said: "...Having had numerous collaborations with HBCUs during my career, I am particularly delighted that Dr. Samuel-Foo, as a member of an HBCU, has the distinguished honor to deliver the 2020 ESA Founders' Memorial Award Lecture."

ESA’s annual meeting brings together approximately 3,600 "insect scientists" to share their latest research and communicate the global science of entomology. For more information, visit 


The ESA Founders' Memorial Award was established to honor the memory of scientists who made outstanding contributions to entomology. Each year at the ESA's annual meeting, the recipient of the award delivers the Founders' Memorial Lecture, the topic of which is always a famous deceased entomologist and their life's work.

At this year's event in Orlando, the subject of Dr. Samuel-Foo’s lecture will be Dr. Ernest J. Harris, a distinguished entomologist  who is internationally recognized for his work on fruit fly eradication and techniques for mass rearing of insects used for biological control, which won him a place in the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Hall of Fame and one of the highest civilian awards in the nation, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal.


The Entomological Society of America is the largest organization of its kind in the world, which serves the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 6,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry and government. The Society stands ready as a scientific and educational resource for all insect-related topics. For more information, visit 


Dr. Samuel-Foo’s position at Alabama State University focuses on teaching, research, and student mentoring. She leads the University’s initiative on industrial hemp research and was the recipient of a $596,000 grant in support of her research. She is the new president of the Southeastern Entomological Society of America. She is a recent newcomer to the ASU faculty, having joined Hornet Nation in January 2018 as an assistant professor. She is involved in both research and teaching on campus. Prior to joining ASU, she was a faculty member with the Institute of Food and Agriculture Services at the University of Florida. There, she led efforts to procure chemical registrations for growers of specialty crops in 12 southern states and Puerto Rico. She also established and oversaw regional field research offices in four states and Puerto Rico. She has also been honored with an NAACP Academic Image award and a North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture teaching award.

Dr. Foo enjoys anything to do with insects, especially as they relate to gardening and sustainable agriculture as evidenced by her current ASU research programs, which center on urban/city gardening and specialty crops. One of the first projects that she championed after coming to ASU was the creation of an urban teaching garden on campus with one of its purposes being to introduce ASU's students to entomology and sustainable agriculture. She also is leading ASU's research initiative that centers on the entomology of industrial hemp. 

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.