Dr. Michael Gray, UNI Biology Alum, 1977, was recently selected as a 2015 Honorary Member of the Entomological Society of America. Dr. Gray is a native Iowan, born in Villisca, Iowa. Both of his parents were raised on farms in southwestern Iowa and his wife Ellen is from Corning, Iowa, where her parents continue to live on the family farm. Mike's father made a career in the U.S. Army, and consequently, he traveled extensively throughout his childhood, living in the Philippines, Japan, and Germany. He graduated from Yamato High School, Tokyo, Japan (73). When his father retired from the military, his parents settled back in Corning, Iowa.
His first semester at the University of Northern Iowa was the fall of 1975. Mike transferred from Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa where he earned an A.A. degree. Mike states "my 2 years at UNI in the Biology Department were wonderful. I still remember the excellent instruction and encouragement from professors David McCalley and AC Haman. My favorite class was taught by AC Haman – general entomology. Professor Haman required an insect collection and as I recall we were required to collect at least 120 families (correctly identified and pinned/labeled properly) to receive an A. In addition, students striving for an A were required to provide a weekly summary of a journal article they had reviewed. Professor Haman also required students to successfully identify unknown insect specimens using keys. I always looked forward to the lectures and labs – and to this day, I retain the nearly worn out text book from that course. It brings back such fond memories. I owe much to Professor Haman. It was his class that changed my life and inspired me to explore the field of entomology."
After graduation from UNI (Biology 77) and a short stint as a high school science teacher in Hubbard, Iowa, Mike went to graduate school at Iowa State University and received MS (1982) and PhD (1986) degrees in entomology. His experiences as a graduate student at Iowa State University formed the foundations of some of his strongest friendships that endure to this day. Following his graduation at ISU, he accepted a postdoctoral research associate position at South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD. In March of 1988, he accepted a position at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Mike loves being a scientist, emphasizing that "it has been my pleasure to conduct research on insect pests of field crops and share my findings with a broad spectrum of the agricultural community. I also have enjoyed serving the Entomological Society of America in a number of leadership roles through the years."