At the time, Mike was enjoying the challenge of serving as national technical director for Orkin in Atlanta. But he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to reunite with his family in Kentucky — and help more of the pest management industry and their customers.
The Drs. Potter
Mike’s older brother, Dr. Daniel A. Potter, a renowned expert on turf and woody landscape pests, had become a U.K. professor several years earlier — making them the only siblings working for the same entomology department in the country.
And once their sons put down roots in the beautiful Bluegrass State, the U.K. professors’ dad Norman, a recently retired professor with Cornell University, and mom Adele followed suit. Mike and Ellen celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this past summer. Their children, David and Megan, both work at Google in Northern California.
Mike says he owes much of his success to several great mentors who advised him throughout his career.
Among them are: industry consultant Dr. George Rotramel, who hired Mike fresh out of graduate school; Gary Rollins, who invested in Mike and made him national technical director at Orkin;
and industry icon Paul Hardy, who Dr. Michael F. Potter’s career in academia is rooted in years of industry experience. mentored Mike in the ways of professional pest management.
Mike also learned a great deal from Dr. Bobby Pass, long-time chairman of the U.K. entomology department — and the members of the Kentucky Pest Management Association made Mike feel like family upon arrival in the Bluegrass State.
The faculty position Mike accepted at U.K. in 1991 was rare within academia.
“It was a 100-percent extension appointment in urban entomology,” Mike notes.
While Mike enjoys research and teaching graduate students, the full-time extension appointment allows him to focus on educating and helping people with their pest problems — hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of citizens since he moved to Kentucky. Much of Mike’s time is spent working with the pest management industry.
“I’ve always felt one of the best ways to serve the public is to work closely with pest management professionals (PMPs), providing vital services to communities throughout the country,” Mike says. “To be an effective educator, you must build relationships and earn trust. If successful, you can accomplish much more than trying to go it alone.”
Along with assisting countless PMPs and consumers with their structural pest problems, Mike also:
■ Speaks, publishes and shares his knowledge in industry and scientific journals, national/international news media, and website articles receiving millions of hits annually;
■ Performed pioneering studies showing termites can be effectively managed with non-repellent liquid termiticides applied mainly around buildings’ exteriors.
■ Collaborated on seminal research confirming the effectiveness of barrier treatments for mosquitoes.
■ Organizes and chairs the University of Kentucky Pest Control Short Course, an annual three-day technical seminar drawing about 500 professionals from several states and other countries.
■ Has long served on the front lines of the global bed bug resurgence. Mike and his U.K. colleagues conduct practical research and provide training and advice to professional and stakeholder groups throughout the world.
“This is the most-challenging pest I’ve encountered, requiring many different groups to collaborate to better educate citizens and tackle myriad related issues.”