The Department of Entomology would like to congratulate Dr. Pete Teel as he received Regents Professor Award from the Texas A&M System during a special recognition ceremony in February.
Teel was one of 12 faculty members that were recognized during ceremonies held in the Bethancourt Ballroom by the TAMUS Board of Regents. The award is given to recognize those professors that have made exemplary contributions to the university and the people of Texas.
Teel is currently Professor and Associate Department Head for Academic Programs in the Department and is internationally recognized for his expertise and research discoveries on ticks and tick-borne diseases, which are a significant impediment to the health and well-being of humans, companion animals, livestock and wildlife.
Since his career at A&M, Teel has provided leadership in support of industry, regulatory, animal health and public health concerns, as well as in the strategic planning for research and regulatory efforts from state to national levels and generated over $4 million in research support through the US Department of Agriculture, United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, US Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, animal health companies and state programs. These programs resulted in more than 230 scholarly publications in peer reviewed journals, book chapters, technical reports, extension and trade publications, as well as more than 300 invited and submitted presentations at scholarly conferences and stakeholder meetings.
Teel’s research findings have benefited livestock producers facing annual costs to ticks and tick-borne diseases exceeding $450M, by improving management tactics and strategies for tick control. His work on cattle fever ticks alone contributes toward protection of more than 400K cattle producers in the southern U.S. that produce more than 1/3 of all fed cattle. USDA estimates the cattle industry losses would exceed $1B annually in the southern US, if these ticks were permitted to re-establish in this region.
Teel is also leading a new collaboration between Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the USDA, ARS, through the AgriLife Genomics and Bioinformatics Center to search the genetic codes of the two cattle fever tick species in the U.S. Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program using comparative genomic and transcriptomic approaches. New challenges to tick elimination have heightened the need to find innovative solutions. This collaboration is expected to yield new discoveries for anti-tick vaccines and identification of new targets for pesticide development, with opportunities for commercialization.
Since 1994, Teel’s dedication in leading the Department’s recruiting, curriculum, and other teaching activities have resulted in making it the largest and nationally-recognized entomology teaching programs in the United States.
Teel has been instrumental in creating the Undergraduate Certificate in Public Health Entomology. Launched in 2012, the certificate’s goal is to prepare students for opportunities in public health services from local to international levels, military services, and relevant graduate and professional schools.
Teel also led the growth and development of the Forensic and Investigative Sciences program from a single course into a separate major and developed a capstone course for the undergraduate curricula called Case Studies in Problem Solving (ENTO 435), which he taught from 2006-2010.
In his tenure, Teel has graduated 16 PhD and 9 Master’s former students in his research program. He presently supports and advises 2 PhD and 2 Master’s students with research projects on subjects pertaining to ticks. His former students include teaching faculty at the University of Oklahoma, the US Air Force Academy and University of Arkansas Monticello.
Nine of Teel’s former students have previously, or are currently, serving in the U.S. Armed Forces as medical entomologists, whose mission is to protect service men and women globally from vector-borne diseases. Other students work in animal health companies, public health agencies, and veterinary medicine. He has mentored 10 B.S. students in high impact research or internship experiences in the last 5 years, each resulting in publication of scholarly work. Each of these students have successfully completed post-graduate programs or are presently in professional schools.
He has received numerous awards during his career including the Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching in 2016 from the Entomological Society of America, the 2014 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award in Excellence in Educational Enrichment and Innovation, and the 2008 Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence, Entomology Recruitment Team, Diversity Efforts.