Willye Bryan is a retired classical biological control entomologist, she worked in this field for 41 years. Willye began her working life as a public-school history teacher.
Willye began her entomological career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Stoneville, Mississippi. She worked for 23 years doing research on the biological control of cotton insect pests in the Mississippi Delta. While at Stoneville Willye also initiated the first Black History Programs held in the USDA-ARS, Mid-South Area and became a consultant for other programs held ARS/Government wide. The programs became extremely successful and have continued as a much-anticipated annual event through the present.
Retiring early from USDA, Willye moved to Michigan and worked at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana for a year as an Adjunct Professor of Multicultural Education and Race & Ethnicity. Following this year in academia, Willye went back to entomology and worked for private industry. She established the insect diagnostics department and marketed the first insect diagnostic test the company had produced in its 20-year history. The test definitively identified two cotton insect pests, the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa zea and the tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens in the egg stage.
Leaving private industry, she went to work at Michigan State University and again worked in biological control of insects. She ended her entomology career at MSU. Over the period of her career Willye has over 35 scientific publications and presentations on entomology. One of her proudest publications is a book she co-edited: Memoirs of Black Entomologists: Reflections on Childhood, University, and Career Experiences. Riddick, Eric W., Samuel-Foo, Michelle, Bryan, Willye W., and Simmons, Alvin M. (Eds.). 2015. Thomas Say Publications in Entomology: Memoirs. Entomological Society of America. Pp. 130.
Willye is the founder of the Justice League of Greater Lansing Michigan. She contacted Rev. Stan Jenkins, her pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Lansing and Prince Solace in June 2021, to discuss starting a faith-based Reparations Project in the Greater Lansing Area. They both liked the idea and the JLGLM was born. Willye is married to Michael and has a young adult grandson whom she adores and enjoys spending lots of time with, Quintyn Harrison who also lives in Lansing.