Wake Forest professor wins mentoring award

Wake Forest University biology professor Gerald Esch was named the 1999 Mentor Award winner for the American Society of Parasitologists.

The award recognizes extraordinary leadership in the training of young scientists and influencing the research and graduate education of a department, college or institution.

Esch received the award at the society’s annual meeting on July 9 in Monterrey, Calif.

Esch, who joined Wake Forest’s faculty in 1965, was instrumental in starting the university’s doctoral biology program on the Reynolda Campus and served as its first director.

Esch was chairman of the biology department from 1975 until 1984 when he was named dean of the Wake Forest Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He stepped down in 1990 and resumed his position as chairman of the biology department for an additional two years. He continues to teach in the biology department.

Esch’s research interest focuses on ecology, aquatic biology and parasitology. Studies that Esch and his students have conducted over the years at a pond near Belew’s Lake located northeast of Winston-Salem are known nationally and internationally. The pond remains one of the few places with a long-term, documented study history of host parasite interactions.

Herman Eure, one of Esch’s former students and chairman of Wake Forest’s biology department, said Esch was an academic and professional role model for him.

“Jerry has been a role model for me since I was a graduate student in his lab some 30 years ago. He was always fair and honest with me and his guidance during my graduate days and early on in my professional career was instrumental in my development as a scientist.”

Esch’s unselfish service to the biology department, the graduate school and the university is one of the reasons Eure made his career at Wake Forest, he said.

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