Dr. Chow-Yang Lee

By Brad Harbison

Acclaimed entomologist Dr. Chow-Yang Lee recently joined the University of California, Riverside, Department of Entomology as endowed presidential chair in Urban Entomology. His official start date was July 1.

Lee said he was excited about the opportunity to join the storied department, which rose to prominence under the late urban entomology pioneer Dr. Walter Ebeling, and whose tradition was carried on by Dr. Mike Rust and research associate Don Reierson.

In his position at UCR, Lee serves as a mentor to graduate students and post-doctoral researchers; teaches courses related to urban entomology and insect toxicology; and interacts with pest management professionals and related stakeholders in urban pest management. “My research direction will continue to center around the behavioral, ecological and physiological adaptations of urban insect pests, especially understanding how these adaptations help them to thrive in the urban environment and their biological trade-offs,” he said. “I am also interested in the roles of human activities and propagule pressure in invasion history of urban insect pests. Using the research findings obtained, my students and I design, evaluate and integrate multiple management tactics to provide a system-level approach towards urban pest management.”

Lee added that one of his short-term goals (five to seven years) is to elevate the level of interaction between the UCR urban entomology program with pest management professionals in the U.S. and around the world. 

Lee comes to UC-Riverside from the Universiti Sains Malaysia where he performed a broad spectrum applied research and background in insect toxicology. Lee said his greatest accomplishment at that institution was “helping to train many students who later went on pursuing successful careers in academia, industry or their own pest management companies,” including many that were first-generation college graduates from underprivileged upbringings. He also said he was proud to have been “a driving force who has made an impact on the pest management industry in Southeast Asia through my research findings and training of pest management personnel.”

In 2018, Lee was one of three editors — along with Dr. Dini Miller and Dr. Stephen Doggett — of “Advances in the Biology and Management of Modern Bed Bugs,” which is a comprehensive scholarly examination of bed bugs.