COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Friends and family from far and near gathered at the fourth floor atrium to recognize the achievements of Dr. Brad Vinson as he retires from the University after 47 years of employment on January 31.
Vinson began his career here at Texas A&M in 1969 after working at Mississippi State as an associate professor.
“Most of us are standing on the shoulders of giants-those remarkable scientists who had a vision of where to lead the rest of us,” said Entomology Department Head Dr. David Ragsdale. “Dr. Brad Vinson is one of those giants.”
During his career, Vinson has published more than 680 scholarly publications over his career, which spans more than 50 years total. Ragsdale noted that one publication was cited 926 times and that over his career he has over 18,000 total citations.
Vinson has mentored 76 graduate students during his employment, including 32 Masters and 44 Ph.D. students, 44 postdoctoral research associates, and 17 visiting scholars.
Vinson was elected as a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America in 1995 and was recently awarded the Distinguished Research Medal by the International Society of Hymenopterists in 2013. In addition, Ragsdale said that Vinson also won more than 20 other awards from several countries including Japan and Italy.
Vinson also was named a Senior Faculty Fellow by Texas A&M AgriLife Research, formerly known as the Texas A&M Agricultural Experiment Station, in 1998 and 2005. He also was a founding member of the Entomophagous Insects Workshop. In total Dr. Vinson has given over 200 invited and voluntary presentations at various symposia and scientific conferences.
Among his many accomplishments, Vinson is known throughout the world for his work on physiological ecology of parasitic wasps, including polydnaviruses, which are viruses that are injected along with venom and an egg into a host caterpillar. These viruses prevents the caterpillar’s immune system from attaching the wasp’s egg when the host is stung.
Other projects Vinson has contributed to included work on chemical communication between hosts and their natural enemies in the form of pheromones, various aspects of reproductive biology, tritrophic interactions between parasitoids, their host insects and host plants the pest species is feeding upon. There are chemical signals such as those used for host location and host acceptance, and in vitro rearing of parasitoids.
In addition, he has conducted largely independent research programs on the ecology and biology of red imported fire ants and the field ecology of solitary bees inhabiting the forests of Costa Rica. His latest projects include writing a book about the use of Trichogramma wasps, tiny stingless wasps that parasitize other insects’ eggs and he collaborating with colleagues in the College of Engineering on a research project involving cockroaches serving as as drones.
Vinson received his Bachelor of Science degree at The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. at Mississippi State University.
“I really had a great time here partly because of my colleagues here and our great students. I couldn’t have done it without the students,” Vinson said, praising the students that he has worked with during his career. “We are very fortunate to have great students. They have done very, very well. It is because all of you people educating them well and we got them excited about research. It has really made a big difference in my life and I’m very pleased to have been here and it’s really made me get where I am at and wouldn’t have done it without all you helping out.”