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  Thomas Miller
University of California, Riverside

Dr. Miller is an insect physiologist who discovered the myogenicity of insect hearts as a graduate student at UC Riverside. He revealed the function of cardiac neurons in the heart of the American cockroach heart during postdoctorals at University of Illinois and University of Glasgow. He then was hired back at University of California, Riverside where he made fundamental discoveries in insect synaptic transmission and the mode of action of insecticides. He then applied this knowledge to aid the California Cotton Pest Control Board in solving problems associated with pink bollworm, the key pest in California. He modified pheromone traps to measure insecticide resistance in pink bollworm in cotton fields overnight, showed the number of males trapped depended critically on weather conditions, identified diapause associated protein in pink bollworm and based an ELISA method on this that revolutionized the measurement of diapause in pink bollworm. The USDA and Cotton Pest Control Board then asked Dr. Miller to produce a pink bollworm engineered to contain a lethal gene to supplement the radiation-base sterile insect control method. Transgenic pink bollworm became the first insect genetically altered for practical purposes and lead to new regulatory oversight approaches. Dr. Miller was awarded the Gregor Mendel Gold Medal from the Czech Academy of Sciences for these and other research projects. His currently is working on recombinant methods to improve biopesticides.

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