Entomology Research Unit is currently focusing its attention on the biosystematics, biodiversity and biocontrol potential of assassin bugs with special emphasis on DNA barcoding. Three research projects one from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research with one year extension, another from the Department of Science and Technology and Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology and the third from the Indian Council of Medical Research are at present undertaken. Six full time research scholars and a postdoctoral fellow are now working in the unit. The research findings from the Entomology Research Unit have been continuously translated into meaningful references in peer reviewed journals of international repute. Collaborative research work on molecular taxonomy and DNA barcoding in collaboration with the Agricultural University China, Indian Council of Agricultural Research and National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects, Bangalore, India in collaboration. Two Ph.D scholars are expecting their public viva-voce examination. Three research scholars are currently writing their Ph.D theses and they will submit the theses in 2011. The Director has been delivering lectures in conferences and faculty/students meets. The Entomology Research Unit has been continuously receiving students and faculty for referencing and interaction. The Entomological has elected the Director as a Life Fellow of the Society. The American Biographical Institute, U.S.A. has nominated the Director as Research Board Advisor and awarded their Distinguished Leadership Award (2011). The Entomology Research Unit organized a three day International Symposium on Insect Pest Management from 23rd to 25th February 2011. The inaugural keynote address was delivered by Dr. John R. Ruberson, Professor of Entomology, University of Georgia, Tifton, U.S.A. The valedictory address was delivered by Dr. B. Vasantharaj David, International consultant. One hundred twenty two papers were presented by scientists from twelve states of India and U.S.A. apart from the contribution of 251 scientists and professors 65 students participated in the symposium. The papers presented will be published as procedings entitled "Insect Pest Management, a Current Scenerio" in 2011 with ISBN no.
Two hundred and eighty five research papers were published by Dr. Dunston and his colleagues, of which two hundred and fifty two research papers were published from the work carried out in this research centre. Apart from these research paper publications, a book on biological and cultural control of insect pests was edited and a monograph on assassin bugs and two textbooks on Entomology were published. Twenty four M.Phils and fourteen Ph.D's were produced. Sixteen research schemes funded by UGC, CSIR, DST, MoEF, ICMR, TNSCST and AIACHE have been undertaken since 1984.
Entomology research unit has a library with several volumes of research treatises on different aspects of entomology particularly on assassin bugs. The journal section of the library includes current as well as old issues of twelve Indian journals.
Highlights, Extension and Collaborative Research
Apart from a general collection of insects, about three hundred reduviid predators were collected from Indian faunal limits, identified and preserved. Three new genera and twenty four new species of reduviids were described.
The Entomology Research Unit inseminates the knowledge gained in the laboratory among academicians, researchers, and farmers as laboratory to land programme. Reduviid predators are being supplied to local farmers and also mass released into their cotton and lady’s finger fields to evaluate their efficacy against chosen insect pests. The results are encouraging and many farmers are willing to participate in this programme. Research scholars very often visit the farmers and motivate them to switch over to biological control from chemical control.
Biocontrol potential of reduviid predators has been regularly live demonstrated to research funding officials, researchers, academicians, teachers, students and the public at Entomology Research Unit.
To inseminate the information on biocontrol potential of reduviid predators against insect pests, articles were written in local language (Tamil) in weeklies and dailies (ref. Kalki, 23 August 1992, Dinakaran, 23 August 1993 and Kathiravan, 8 June 1994). An English article was published in a national news paper (The Hindu, 20 April 1995). We have been receiving the feedback as letters with enquiries, clarifications, apprehensions etc.
Scientific and general articles such as Insect and Man (1990), Assassin bugs (1991), Earth and Man (1993), Biodiversity (1994), Insecticides breed insect resistance (1995), Sustainable development (1996), Other side of the coin (my experience at U.S.A.) (1998), Spiritual (Value) Formation, an analysis (1999), Health and Environment (2000), Secrets of a Successful Career (2001), The Time (2002), Let us… (2004), The two sides of Tsunami (2005), Salt (2008), Light (2009) Sheep and Shepherd (2010) and Look at the Birds (2011) were published in St. Xavier’s College Annual Magazine to motivate students and My experience at U.S.A. (2000) was published as a chapter entitled "Oori oolagellam" in a Tamil textbook.
The Entomology research unit has been referred to Entomologists from all over the world to get information on assassin bugs. Many heteropterists are in the regular mailing list. The centre has been receiving assassin bugs from all over the world for establishing their identity. Dr. Dunston is also associated with many academic societies.
The Entomology Research Unit has been continuously receiving academicians, researchers and students for referencing and undertaking research work on assassin bugs. One Dr. S. John Patterson from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, UK participated in a collaborative research work on haematophagous assassin bugs.
Dr. Dunston participated in a collaborative research project in reduviids on invitation from Prof. John R. Ruberson, University of Georgia, from April to August 1997. He also visited Prof. Carl W. Schaefer, Connecticut University, and Prof. Douglas W. Whitman, Illinois State University to deliver lectures and explore collaborative research work on Reduviidae. He delivered lectures at the University of Georgia and Illinois State University. He also interacted with Entomologists of Auburn University, University of Florida, Rhode Island University, Smithsonian Institute and United States Department of Agriculture, Beltsville in 1997. Dr. Dunston was again invited by Dr. Thomas J. Henry as a short-term visitor to Smithsonian Institute, U.S.A. in 1999. He was also invited by Prof. Carl W. Schaefer University of Connecticut, U.S.A. and Mr. Mick Web, Curator, Hemiptera Division, and Natural History Museum, London U.K 1999.