Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Entomologist David Stephan to Retire

(Special thanks to Dr. Jack Bacheler, whose words formed the nucleus of this blog.) 

David Stephan writing among insect specimens. August 1973.
David Stephan, circa August 1973
After almost 40 years, David Stephan will step down from his position as the Entomology Specialist for the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic. Dave has been responsible for the identification of all insects, spiders, mites, and many other kinds of pests submitted to the Clinic by the public, extension agents, consultants, pest management companies, and researchers. Dave developed a reputation for being able to identify anything dead or alive that walks, digs, flies or swims. He was often called upon to identify the cause of arthropod plant damage even in the absence of physical remains of a pest.

Also a competent herpetologist, Dave additionally carried out a number of special identification and research projects with NCSU faculty, other scientists and students; worked closely with personnel from the NCSU Insect Museum; and was extensively involved with homeowner and agent training in the identification of insects and other arthropods. He was a regular presenter on satellite (later internet) training sessions broadcast several times a year to Cooperative Extension Agents and Master Gardener Volunteers.

smiling David Stephan at the microscope
David Stephan, April 2011
Dave's knowledge is not only broad, but deep. Beyond being able to identify many "critters", as he calls them, he also knows their life cycles and natural history. He has spent thousands of hours on the phone explaining insects and what they can and cannot do. We celebrate with Dave that he'll now have more time to spend in his beloved outdoors and doing the sorts of entomological taxonomy he enjoys, without the pressures of the clinic.

Beyond his formidable technical skills, Dave's diversity of interests and talents will be missed in the PDIC. Without Dave's black belt in the art of bad puns, the clinic will be a safer but duller place. He is a connoisseur of weather, of new words, of motion pictures, and of science fiction, particularly the Star Trek and Babylon 5 series. In spare moments we've chatted about everything from Broadway show tunes to the refractive index of diamonds. His is a mind that makes connections.

Last week, colleagues old and new joined to thank Dave for his many contributions to the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic, the Entomology Department, the North Carolina State University Extension Service and to the citizens of North Carolina. Since a replacement entomologist has not yet been hired, there will be a period of time during which insect identification services will not be available at the clinic. Please see the announcement on our home page for details.

Dave, don't forget: live long and prosper.


  1. Thanks for posting.Dave's deeds will never be forgotten cause he contributed a lot in Entomology profession.Good luck.

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  3. The job of an Entomologist is never gone an easier and there are many things that they should have to be consider before studying an insects.