The C.P. Alexander Award was established by the North American Dipterists Society during a special meeting at the 3rd International Congress of Dipterology in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, in 1994. This award was conceived “to recognize the greatest living North American dipterist” and, as a lifetime award, can only be held by a single dipterist at a time. Charles P. Alexander (1889–1981) was a North American dipterist of legendary status, having published over 1000 scientific papers and described nearly 12,000 species of flies (mostly crane flies, superfamily Tipuloidea), and hence the award was named in his honor. Details about the current holder and past recipients of the C.P. Alexander Award are given below.
Prof. Stephen A. Marshall of the University of Guelph, Canada, was selected in March 2018 as the third recipient of the C.P. Alexander Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to dipterology. The announcement of this award and a brief profile of Steve's accomplishments in dipterology were made in the Fly Times issue 60. Steve's award reads:
The North American Dipterists Society recognizes Stephen A. Marshall as our most accomplished dipterists and acknowledges his valuable contributions to the systematics of Diptera and his extraordinary skills as an educator, mentor, insect photographer, and author of general books on insects.
After receiving his doctorate at the University of Guelph, Steve accepted a position on the faculty at the same university in 1982, where he continued to his retirement in 2019, having taught entomology to hundreds of undergraduates and supervised dozens of graduate students in dipterology, many of which have gone on to professional careers. Steve's 250+ publications, including 10 books and dozens of book chapters, set an impressive mark for dipterology, with many works including graduate students or professional colleagues. His passion for photography has not only led to his publication of highly acclaimed books, but his generosity towards colleagues with regards to use of his photographs of flies and other insects has resulted in countless authors and presenters at a wide range of scientific meetings benefiting from his skill.
The second recipient of the C.P. Alexander Award was Dick Vockeroth (1928–2012), who was presented with the Award in May 1997 during the 5th Field Meeting of the North American Dipterists Society held in Rincon, Georgia, USA. Dick held the award until his passing on 16 November 2012. This award was announced along with a brief profile of Dick's accomplishments in dipterology in the Fly Times issue 19. Later, a profile is of his life and career was published in Fly Times issue 50. Dick's award reads:
John Richard Vockeroth is recognized as our most knowledgeable dipterist, and for his critical and unique contributions in expanding our knowledge of flies, especially flower flies, educating and encouraging a cadre or world leaders for Systematic Dipterology.
Dick joined the Systematic Entomology Unit of Agriculture Canada in 1949 and retired in 1991, and continued as a Research Associate until 2009, continuing to provide valuable expertise in Diptera to the staff of the Diptera Unit and to students and colleagues internationally. Dick was recognized as an expert across the order Diptera, although he specialized particularly on several families including the hover flies, family Syrphidae. Through his career, Dick authored or coauthored 120 scientific publications, including 12 chapters in the Manual of Nearctic Diptera. As a field dipterist, Dick was known as one of the best fly collectors in North America, in part because of his ability to distinguish on sight between rare and common flies across a wide spectrum of the order. He contributed approximately 220,000 pinned insects to the Canadian National Collection of Insects, and has been recognized for his collecting efforts and his expertise in Diptera by having at least 4 genera and 87 species of insects named in his honor.
The first recipient of the C.P. Alexander Award was Bill Wirth (1916–1994), who was awarded the honor in 1994 during the 3rd International Congress of Dipterology in Guelph. Unfortunately due to ill health, Bill was unable to attend the Congress to receive his Award, but it was presented to him in Florida shortly after the Congress by a group of Gainesville dipterists on 27 August 1994. Sadly, Bill died about a week later, on 4 September 1994. The award was published in Fly Times issue 14. Bill's award reads:
The North American Dipterists Society recognizes Willis W. Wirth as our most productive dipterist and for his critical and unique contributions in expanding our knowledge of flies, especially biting midges and shore flies, educating and encouraging a cadre of world leaders for Systematic Dipterology.
A profile of Bill's life and career is given on his member page of the Washington Biologists' Field Club, to which he was elected as a member in 1975. Although Bill had an active career before he became a research entomologist in 1949 with the US Department of Agriculture at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, most dipterists know him from his time there focused mainly on biting midges in the family Ceratopogonidae as well as ephydrids and other families. His prolific career saw more than 400 scientific publications on flies. After retiring from the US Department of Agriculture in 1983, Bill retired to Gainesville, Florida, where he continued his research as a research associate with the Florida Department of Primary Industries.