Former U prof, pioneer in entomology dies at 90

Matt Graham

Retired University professor Huai Chiang died March 30 in Ithaca, N.Y. He was 90.

Chiang taught entomology at the University from 1953-84 after receiving his master’s and doctorate degrees at the University.

“He really began the work in an area we now call ‘insect ecology’ before it was popular, and he was a pioneer in integrated pest management,” said Mark Ascerno, head of the entomology department.

Ascerno said Chiang realized the presence of insects in crops was not always a problem and was one of the first to consider nonsynthetic means of controlling pests.

“He looked at other alternatives before moving to the last resort of chemicals,” Ascerno said.

Chiang was born Feb. 15, 1915, in Sunjiang County, Jiansu province, China.

Chiang first took an interest in insects in the summer of 1935, after his first year at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

He came to the University to study entomology in 1945.

After completing his studies, he began his teaching career at the University’s Duluth campus in 1953, where he was promoted to professor in 1960.

Chiang was named teacher of the year by the Duluth campus’ Student Council.

“We had a tribute to him about two years ago, and I was very impressed at the number of former students who came back for it,” Ascerno said.

In the summers, Chiang and his family lived in Waseca, Minn., where he studied the European corn borer, an insect.

Chiang took the insect ecology position at the University’s Twin Cities campus in 1961. He was in that position until his retirement in 1984.

Chiang was a member of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, in which he led the development of a manual for use in developing countries.

He is survived by Zoe, his wife of 59 years, and their three children: Jeannie, of Oakland, Calif.; and Katherine and Robert, of Ithaca, N.Y.