About Dr. DeFoliart


Gene R. DeFoliart (1925-2013) was a professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Entomology from 1959 until his retirement in 1991.


Education and Prior Work

After earning his Ph.D. at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, he served eight years 1951-1959 on the faculty of the University of Wyoming in Laramie.


In March, 1959 he arrived as associate professor of entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He became a full professor in 1966 and twice served as Chair of the Department of Entomology, from 1968 to 1976 and from January 1982 to December 1983. 


His teaching and research field was medical and veterinary entomology, and for the last 25 years at the UW before his retirement July 1, 1991, the research program focused on the vector transmission biology of mosquito-borne arboviruses, with emphasis on La Crosse encephalitis virus.

Insects as Food

From 1978 onward, he also conducted research and an educational outreach program on the human use of insects as a global food resource. As part of this latter program, he founded (in 1988) and served as editor for the first eight years of The Food Insects Newsletter, which addresses nutritional, economic and environmental implications of insects as traditional foods in many developing countries.

Relative to insects as food, he initiated and taught a new course for Entomology 364 (one credit) titled: “The Human Use of Insects as Food and Animal Feed” in 1991. He taught the course twice after his retirement, in 1993 and 1995.

Committee Work

During his 32 years on the active faculty at UW, Gene served on the Executive Committee, Faculty Biological Division (1979-1982), 4 years as a member of the NIH (National Institutes of Health) Study Section on Tropical Medicine and Parasitology (1975-1979), and periodically as a grant consultant or in other capacities for CDC (National Communicable Disease Center), Atlanta, Georgia; Canada Department of Health and National Welfare, National Geographic and others. He served in 1971-72 as Chairman of the Entomological Society of America’s (ESA) Section of Medical and Veterinary Entomology.

Public Speaking

Dr. DeFoliart filled many speaking engagements, one of the more notable being as banquet speaker for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the New York Entomological Society at the Explorers Club, New York City, in May 1992, using the title, “Insects are Food: Where has the Western World Been?” In October, 2003, in Cincinnati, Ohio and December, 2010 (click here for video), in San Diego, California symposiums were held honoring his work on insects as a global food resource as part of national meetings of the Entomological Society of America.

Graduate Students

Graduate students under Gene’s direction earned 10 Master’s degrees and 24 PhDs.

Honors and Awards

In 1976 Gene became the third recipient of the Award of Merit presented by the North Central States Branch of the ESA. In 1998 he was awarded the Hoogstraal Medal by the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene for outstanding achievement in medical entomology.


Dr. DeFoliart died on January 3, 2013.