2023 Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award

Congratulations to Duane McKenna, PhD, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences on receiving the award at the Spring Faculty Convocation.Duane McKenna

McKenna is the William D. Hill Professor of Biology. His research seeks to answer enduring questions about how and when insects evolved, why there are so many insect species, and how insects successfully feed on plants. Other interests include insects in agriculture and forestry, invasive insect species, geographic patterns of insect diversity and endemism, and the impacts of global change on insect and plant biodiversity. Dr. McKenna is a specialist on beetles (Coleoptera), the most diverse group of animals on Earth. His research program—which relies heavily on large scale genomic data—involves a combination of field, collections, and laboratory work worldwide, and has been supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other organizations. He is the founding Director of the University of Memphis (UofM) Center for Biodiversity Research (CBio) and founding co-Director of the UofM Agriculture and Food Technologies Research Cluster.

He is a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and was awarded the J.O. Westwood Medal for excellence in arthropod taxonomy in 2022.

The Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award is the highest distinction given to a faculty member by the University. The award is given by the UofM Board of Visitors and includes a cash prize and a commemorative crystal. 

Dr. McKenna is also receiving the 2023 UofM Alumni Association Distinguished Research, Creative Achievement & Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award for Distinguished Research in Science, Engineering & Mathematics. Full details: https://www.memphis.edu/accolades/university-awards/alumni-association-distinguished-research-science.php