Professor, Associate Entomologist and Extension Specialist
Director of the M. T. James Entomological Collection
Areas of Interest
My research interests are varied but center around insect systematics and entomological diversity as broad fields of exploration – I often refer to this as “ecosystematics.” I am interested in the interactions of insects with their environments, especially as those environments are harsh, unusual, or vanishing. This often includes areas that are managed such as parks, reserves and reservations and even agricultural lands. For many years, some of my students and I conducted intensive survey work and concurrent ecological studies of the Hanford Nuclear Site located in south central Washington State. We currently have biodiversity survey studies of several native Palouse Prairie sites that are located in eastern Washington.
My systematic interests also are varied with primary groups of interest including the dipterous family Ephydridae (shore flies), moths, and aquatic Coleoptera and Hemiptera in general. Current investigations include general studies of the insect fauna of Guam (and Micronesia), especially shore flies, and the moths of the Washington. We also have cooperative studies in Guatemala.
I am also involved in applied studies, especially as they exam or build-upon general principles of entomology. Recent projects are in corn (especially corn earworm) management and field crops. I am looking at the distributions and management of noctuid moths. I am also pursuing studies that examine at the chemical ecology of non-pheromone insect attractants for moths and pestiferous wasps. Much of this research is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Peter Landolt at the USDA ARS lab in Wapato, WA.
I am interested in how insects and people interact at all levels including those often termed cultural entomology. Most of my activities are at the undergraduate level where I teach a courses titled “Insects and People” and “Entomology and Human Health” to non-science majors. I enjoy teaching and the opportunity to interact with students at all educational levels. My graduate students are often involved in my teaching, as are gifted undergraduates.
Ph.D. Washington State University – Systematic Entomology – l982
Dissertation: Biologies and Distribution of Certain Pacific Northwest Shore Flies (Diptera: Ephydridae).
M.S. Kent State University – Biology – l976
Thesis: Utilization of Algal Monocultures by Shore Flies (Diptera: Ephydridae).
B.S. Ohio State University – Entomology – 1974
(includes those with colleagues or former graduate students)
- Looney, C., B. Hanelt, and R. S. Zack In Press. New records of nematomorph parasites (Nematomorpha: Gordiida) of ground beetles (C oleoptera: Carabidae) and camel crickets (Orthoptera: Rhaphidophoridae) in Washington State. Journal of Parasitology
- Landolt, P. J., C. Guédot, and R. S. Zack. 2011. Spotted cutworm, Xestia c-nigrum (L.) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), responses to sex pheromone and blacklight. Journal of Applied Entomology 135: 593-600.
- Landolt, P. J., T. Adams, R. S. Zack, and L. Crabo. 2011. A diversity of moths (Lepidoptera) trapped with two feeding attractants. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 104 (3): 498-506.
- Gaver-Wainwright, M. M., R. S. Zack, M. J. Foradori, and L Corley-Lavine. 2011. Misdiagnosis of spider bites: bacterial associates, mechanical pathogen transfer, and hemolytic potential of venom from the hobo spider, Tegenaria agrestis (Araneae: Agelenidae). Journal of Medical Entomology 48(2): 382-388.
- Landolt, P. J., J. M. Sierra, T. R. Unruh, and R. S. Zack. 2010. A new species of Vespula, and first record of Vespa crabro L. (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) from Guatemala, Central America. Zootaxa 2629: 61-68.
- Zack, R. S., D. Strenge, P. J. Landolt, and C. Looney. 2010. European earwig, Forficula auricularia L. (Dermaptera: Forficulidae), at the Hanford Reach National Monument, Washington State. Western North American Naturalist 70(4): 441-445.
- Schaefer, C. W. and R. S. Zack. 2010. Taxonomic notes on the Alydidae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera) from Guam and surrounding areas. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 103(5): 706-710.
- Lis, J. A. and R. S. Zack. 2010. A review of burrower bugs (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Cydnidae sensu lato) of Guam. Zootaxa 2523: 57-64.
- Landolt, P. J., H. C. Reed, K. N. Landolt, J. Monzon, and R. S. Zack. 2009. The southern yellowjacket, Vespula squamosa (Drury) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Guatemala, Central America. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 111: 426-432.
- Zack, R. S., A. Moore, and R. H. Miller. 2007. First record of a pygmy backswimmer (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Pleidae) from Micronesia. Zootaxa 1617: 67-68.
- Zack, R. S., C. N. Looney, and R. D. Gordon. 2006. A new species of winter active dung beetle, Stenotothorax woodleyi (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae), associated with shrub-steppe habitat in Washington State. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 108: 45-50.
- Zack, R. S., D. E. Ruiter, D. L. Strenge, and P. J. Landolt. 2006. Adult caddisfly (Trichoptera) phenology at the Hanford Reach national Monument, Washington State. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 108: 131-138
- Johnson, D. J., B. C. Carstens, W. S. Sheppard, and R. S. Zack. 2005. Phylogeny of leafhopper subgenus Errhomus (Erronus) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 98: 165-172.
Distinguished Faculty Address, Washington State University 2011 Convocation
Individual Integrated Award (contributions to all areas of the college). College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). 2010-2011
Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Instruction. Washington State University. 2010-11
Inaugural “Randy Pausch” Lecture, Last Lecture Series. Academic Excellence in Undergraduate Education Committee, Residence Life, Washington State University. 2009.
Recognized as one of the Top Five Instructors at Washington State University as nominated by students in a survey conduct
ed by the Washington State University student newspaper, The Evergreen. 2008
Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching, Entomological Society of America, National Recognition. 2005
Western Region Award for Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences. Higher Education Programs of the United States Department of Agriculture/National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC). 2004
Marian E. Smith Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching. Washington State University. 2003-2004.
R.M. Wade Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching, College of Agriculture and Home Economics, WSU, April 2001
Current Graduate Students
Matthew Olson, MS student
Dax Dugaw, MS student
Tariq Mustafa, PhD student