Dr. Richard W. Merritt: a Biographical Sketch

Rich Merritt in his habitat

Dr. Richard W. Merritt is currently Professor and past Chair of Entomology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. A native Californian, he attended California State University at San Jose where he received his BS in Biology in l968. He then went on to Washington State University where he received his MS in Entomology in l970, and then back to California where he obtained his Ph.D. in Medical Entomology and Parasitology from the University of California, Berkeley in l974. During that time he also was a participant in the Organization for Tropical Studies Program in Costa Rica and in l973 he was a faculty participant in a course entitled "Ecology of the Amazon" which took place in Columbia and Brazil. He was promoted to Full Professor at MSU in l984. His academic and scholastic honors include: Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Who's who in the Midwest, Men of Achievement, American Men and Women of Science, and several others listed below.

Dr. Merritt's major research interests focus on the feeding ecology, animal microbial interactions, population dynamics and influence of environmental factors on immature aquatic insects, especially the Diptera. His most recent research has concentrated on the ecology of a neglected emerging disease, Buruli Ulcer, in Africa involving insects as a potential reservoir, and biomonitoring of streams and rivers and the effects of pollutants on aquatic ecosystems. He also is involved in the field of Forensic Entomology and assists police departments with crime scene investigations involving insects. He has over 20 years of experience in this field and has been Chairman of the American Board of Forensic Entomology and currently a Fellow in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He has co-edited four editions of a textbook entitled, "An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America" and a book entitled, "Black Flies: Ecology, Population Management, and Annotated World List." He has served as Associate Editor for three journals, The American Midland Naturalist Freshwater Invertebrate Biology, and the Journal of Medical Entomology.

Since Dr. Merritt has been at Michigan State University, extramural funding has come from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), although support has come from other agencies as well (e.g., USDA ARS, US Forest Service, U.S. Navy, NATO, US Fish and Wildlife, WHO, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Michigan DNR and DEQ). He has published over 170 refereed scientific journal articles, including articles in Ecology, Scientific American, Annual Review of Entomology, J. Insect Physiology, Oikos, BioScience, Canadian Journal of Zoology, Natural History, Journal of the North American Benthological Society, J. of Forensic Sciences, J. of Medical Entomology, and others. He has published 29 chapters in books.

Rich Merritt in Africa

Dr. Merritt teaches or has taught two main courses, one in Insect Ecology and the other in Aquatic Entomology. He also co-teaches a short summer course in Biomontoring of Streams and Rivers and a seminar course in Bugs and Bodies: The Role of Insects in Crime Scene Investigations. He offers an online course in Forensic Entomology with a Ph.D. graduate student. He received a Fulbright Scholar Award in l986 and spent a sabbatical in London, England where he was made an Honorary Research Fellow at University College, London. He has served as President of the 2500-member North American Benthological Society (NABS), and been an active member of the North Eastern States Regional Project (NE-ll8) on black fly biology and control. Dr. Merritt has served on US EPA panels, different ESA (Entomological Society of America) committees and on several USDA/SEA departmental review teams for Entomology programs throughout the country. He was on the Nature Conservancy Scientific Advisory Committee and the Fulbright Board of Directors for the State of Michigan. He was awarded the MSU CNS Distinguished Faculty Award (2004), the MSU CANR Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award (2006), and the Michigan State University Distinguished Faculty Award in 2004. He received the Entomological Society of America's North Central Branch Distinguished Teaching Award (1998), and the ESA NCB-C.V. Riley Award in 2008. He was appointed to the WHO Technical Advisory Committee on Buruli Ulcer Disease in Geneva, Switzerland in 2006, and received the North American Benthological Society's Award of Excellence in Benthic Science in 2007.