Dethier, Vincent G.

Dethier, Vincent G. (Gaston)

(1915–93) entomologist; born in Boston, Mass. He was an entomologist at the G. W. Pierce Laboratory in Franklin, N.H. (1937–38), then an assistant at the Cruft Physics Laboratory, Harvard University (1939). While researching the plant-feeding choices of swallowtail butterfly caterpillars (1930s), he became the first to prove that caterpillars select their food by the plant's taste and smell, not its nutritional value. He taught biology at John Carroll University (Cleveland, Ohio) (1939–41), served the Army Chemical Corps as a research physiologist (1946), then became a professor at Ohio State University (1946–47) before moving to Johns Hopkins (1947–58), where he investigated chemoreception in black blowflies. He became a professor of zoology and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania (1958–67) and concurrently was an associate at the Institute of Neural Science School of Medicine (1958–67). After serving as a professor at Princeton (1967–75), he joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts (1975). In addition to his major contributions to insect physiology and the life history of Lepidoptera, he published (and occasionally illustrated) popular books and short stories for adult and juvenile readers.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.