He's a medical entomologist through and through.
So when UC Davis medical entomologist and emeritus professor William "Bill" Reisen, internationally known for his mosquito research and public service, received the Meritorious Service Award from the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) at the 2016 annual meeting in Savannah, Ga., it was an honor so very well deserved.
Indeed, AMCA's mission could be Reisen's mission. The AMCA, founded in 1935, is a scientific and educational public service organization. Its mission is “to provide leadership, information, and education leading to the enhancement of health and quality of life through the suppression of mosquitoes and other vector-transmitted diseases, and the reduction of annoyance levels caused by mosquitoes and other vectors and pests of public health importance.”
Reisen accepted the plaque from AMCA President Kenneth Linthicum. director of the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA-Agricultural Research Service. The plaque is inscribed with: “In recognition of outstanding service to the AMCA and for contributions to the science of mosquito ecology and bionomics and to the epidemiology and control of arboviruses."
Reisen accepted the award on behalf of his collaborators, colleagues and staff at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, and acknowledged “the important impact that the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California and the California Department of Public Health has had on our program's success.”
Working closely with the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California and the California Department of Public Health, Reisen was instrumental in molding the California arbovirus surveillance diagnostics, data management and reporting statewide into an effective decision support system for intervention.
Reisen, retired from UC Davis in 2014 from some of his responsibilities, but he's the kind of person who will probably never retire, and that's a good thing for us and a bad thing for the mosquitoes. Reisen is a professor emeritus with the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology (PMI), School of Veterinary Medicine, and a former director of the Center for Vectorborne Diseases. He continues to serve as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Entomology, published by Entomological Society of America. He has served as a graduate student advisor for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology as well as the Epidemiology Graduate Group.
A native of New Jersey, Reisen holds a doctorate in zoology (1974) from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, with a focus on medical microbiology and ecology.
Throughout his career, Reisen directed collaborative projects ranging from field evaluations of genetically modified mosquitoes to aerial applications of insecticides, the vector competence of mosquitoes for endemic and newly introduced viruses, established new molecular surveillance testing paradigms for arboviruses, and initiated interactive networks for sharing surveillance data with mosquito control agencies and public health officials to speed mosquito control response times and to minimize disease risk to humans, according to Craig Downs, general manager of the Contra Costa MVCAC District.
His colleagues can attest to his work. Said Downs: “Several examples of his continual scientific contributions include: the effects of climate variation on arthropod-borne pathogen transmission, modeling efforts for predicting arbovirus risk, the application of insecticides for reducing the disease burden of West Nile virus in California, the use of liquid suspension array technologies for the identification of mosquito blood meals and his keen observation of the role of stagnant swimming pools as breeding sites for Culex spp. vectors in Kern County."
Reisen's medical entomology career includes the U.S. Air Force, University of Maryland School of Medicine, UC Berkeley School of Public Health and the Center for Vectorborne Diseases at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. He directed the Arbovirus Field Station in Bakersfield from 1980-2013 and the Center for Vectorborne Diseases, based at UC Davis, from 2009 to 2014.
In recognition of his contributions to research, service and graduate training, Reisen was awarded Lifetime Award for Achievement in Medical Entomology and the Distinguished Service Award by the Society for Vector Ecology; Fellow, Entomological Society of America; Academic Federation Award for Excellence in Research, University of California, Davis; John N. Belkin Award for Excellence in Vector Ecology, American Mosquito Control Association; and the Harry Hoogstraal Medal, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Thomas Scott, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and known for his work on the dengue/yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, described Reisen as “an international leader in mosquito ecology and arbovirus epidemiology. His contributions to his field of study are stunning. His prolific, detailed field and laboratory studies have reshaped the way we think about mosquito-borne pathogen transmission dynamics. He has greatly improved disease prevention programs.”
Yes, Bill Reisen has greatly improved disease prevention programs and the lives of many people, far and wide, and too many to mention. Outstanding service. Outstanding contributions. Outstanding mentor.
Quick! What do you think of when someone mentions "honey bees and mosquitoes" in the same sentence?
Honey bees are the pollinators, the beneficial insects. Infected mosquitoes transmit killer diseases such as malaria and dengue; they are our most dangerous insect enemies on the planet.
But, in a way, sometimes an apiculturist and a medical entomologist come together when they are honored for their decades of service to the University of California.
Take Extension apiculturist (emeritus) Eric Mussen, a bee guy, and medical entomologist William K. Reisen, a mosquito guy. Both retired last summer--Mussen after 38 years of service to UC, and Reisen, after 35 years of service. Between them, however, their length of service totals 82 years. That's because Reisen earlier served with the U.S. Air Force for three years and with the University of Maryland for six years.
Fittingly, both are receiving well-deserved honors for their accomplishments. Mussen's latest award was from the Almond Board of California for 38 years of meritorious service. Reisen's latest award is from the Mosquito Vector Control Association of California (MVCAC) for 35 years of meritorious service.
Reisen was nominated for the 2015 meritorious service award by the Contra Costa MVCAC District for "his special and significant contributions to the field of mosquito and vector control."
"Dr. Reisen's career spans over forty years during which he has published over 260 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters in the field of medical entomology," wrote nominator Craig Downs, general manager of the Contra Costa MVCAC District.
"Throughout his career, Bill has directed projects studying the vector competence of mosquitoes for newly introduced viruses, established new surveillance testing paradigms, and initiated complex interactive networks, sharing surveillance data with mosquito control agencies and public health officials to speed mosquito control response times and to minimize disease risk to humans. Several examples of his continual scientific contributions include: the effects of climate variation on arthropod-borne pathogen transmission, modeling efforts for predicting arbovirus risk, the application of insecticides for reducing the disease burden of West Nile virus in California, the use of liquid suspension array technologies for the identification of mosquito blood meals and his keen observation of the role of stagnant swimming pools as breeding sites for Culex spp. vectors in Sacramento County.”
Internationally known for his mosquito research and publications spanning more than four decades, Reisen is now professor emeritus, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology (PMI), School of Veterinary Medicine and serves as the editor of the Journal of Medical Entomology. He is a former director of the Center for Vectorborne Diseases (CVEC), comprised of researchers throughout the state and based on the UC Davis campus. Throughout his UC Davis career, Reisen has advised many graduate students affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, PMI or CVEC. He is currently assisting four doctoral candidates and one master's degree candidate.
Reisen is one of only three UC recipients of this statewide award since 1981. William C. Reeves (1916-2004), UC Berkeley emeritus professor of epidemiology, received the award in 1981 and Bruce F. Eldridge, former director of the statewide UC Mosquito Research Program, based at UC Davis, and now professor emeritus of entomology, received the award in 1997.
Mussen's latest award is an engraved clock from the Almond Board of California. In presenting him with the coveted award, Robert "Bob" Curtis, associate director of Agricultural Affairs, Almond Board of California, told him: "Eric, we honor your service as a Cooperative Extension Apiculture Specialist. Your leadership has been invaluable to both the almond and beekeeping communities as the authoritative and trusted source for guidance on research, technical, and practical problem solving and issues facing both industries. Even now in your retirement you have been instrumental in the development of Honey Bee Best Management Practices for Almonds and extending this information to all pollination stakeholders."
For 38 years, Mussen served as a university liaison, Scientific Advisory Board member, reviewer of research proposals and a designated speaker for the Almond Board of California. As an emeritus, he continues some of that involvement. In addition to his many duties, for 38 years Mussen wrote and published the bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, and Bee Briefs, providing beekeepers with practical information on all aspects of beekeeping. The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) last year honored him with the Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Extension.
Mussen, who joined the UC Davis department in 1976, became known throughout the state, nation and world as “the honey bee guru” and “the pulse of the bee industry" and as "the go-to person" when consumers, scientists, researchers, students, and the news media have questions about honey bees. (The new Extension apiculturist is Elina Niño from Pennsylvania State University. Check out her engaging and informative lab website.)
Mussen and Reisen may be far apart in their choice of insects to study, but they are close together in their commitment, dedication and passion that marked their phenomenal careers.
But have you ever wondered which hosts Culex mosquitoes prefer?
Tara Thiemann, postdoctoral scholar in the William Reisen lab at UC Davis, will discuss host favorites when she speaks on "Survey of Culex Bloodfeeding Patterns in California" at the next UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar, set from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, May 23 in 122 Briggs.
As a postdoctoral researcher, Thiemann works with Reisen, a noted medical entomologist, on studies investigating novel assays to identify current and emerging arboviruses in California.
"Culex tarsalis and members of the Culex pipiens complex are the primary vectors of WNV in California," Thiemann notes in her abstract. "Both mosquito species feed on a variety of avian hosts, as well as disease-susceptible mammals, such as horses and humans, so determining the bloodfeeding patterns of these mosquitoes is a critical component in understanding the transmission dynamics of WNV throughout the state."
The research project involved identifying bloodmeals from more than 2500 mosquitoes, and identifying hosts, including avian, mammalian and reptilian.
Thiemann, who received her doctorate in entomology in 2011 from UC Davis (dissertation: “Bloodfeeding Patterns of Culex tarsalis and the Culex pipiens complex in California”) says her research shows that variation in bloodfeeding patterns "primarily resulted from differences in host availability and abundance."
Several species, including the house sparrow, house finch, mourning dove, and domestic dog, proved frequent hosts throughout the state, Thiemann points out, "and highly competent corvids, Western scrub-jay, yellow-billed magpie, and American crow, were fed upon more frequently than in previous studies."
If you miss her talk, not to worry. The UC Davis Department of Entomology plans to record it and it will be posted in about two weeks on UCTV.
William C. Reeves (1916-2004) would have been proud.
Remember William "Bill" Reeves? A renowned entomologist, professor and dean at UC Berkeley, he was widely regarded as the world's foremost authority on the spread and control of mosquito-borne diseases.
His legendary work continues in the form of the William C. Reeves New Investigator Award, a statewide award given to the best scientific paper submitted and presented at the annual Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California conference.
This year the winner of the Reeves New Investigator Award holds special significance.You see, Bill Reeves worked closely with another Bill--research entomologist William Reisen (right), now with the Center for Vectorborne Diseases, UC Davis.
Tara Thiemann, the 2010 recipient of the Reeves New Investigator Award, studies with Reisen, her major professor.
Thiemann, a doctoral candidate in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, won the award for her work, “Evaluating Trap Bias in Blood Meal Identification Studies,” She received $1000 and a plaque at the 78th annual MVCAC meeting, held in Sacramento.
Thiemann’s research involves analyzing the blood meals of Culex mosquitoes throughout California and identifying host prevalence and feeding patterns.
This is crucial research, as infected Culex mosquitoes transmit West Nile virus and other killer diseases.
Thiemann, who joined the Entomology Graduate Program in 2004, received her bachelor's and master's degree in biology from Truman State University, Kirksville, Mo. In 2008 she won a William Hazeltine Student Research Fellowship for her Culex mosquito studies.
Two other graduate students, also affiliated with CVEC, received second and third-place awards in the Reeves New Investigator Award competition.
M. Veronica Armijos, a doctoral student in comparative pathology, won second place with her presentation on “Distribution and Prevalence of Novel Flaviviruses in California.” She received $500.
Christy Andrade, a doctoral candidate in the Microbiology Graduate Group, won third for her presentation on "Effect of Temperature on West Nile Virus Replication in Different Host Cell Types: Potential for Altered Transmission Cycles in California." She received $250.
The students are advised by Reisen and Aaron Brault of the CVEC faculty. Brault is an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and a research microbiologist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CVEC faculty member Bruce Eldridge, emeritus professor of entomology and former director of the UC Mosquito Research Program--and also one of Reeves' colleagues--presented the awards.Eldridge remembers collecting many a skeeter with Reeves (see photo below).
Meanwhile, congratulations to the new breed of mosquito researchers (and soon-to-be UC Davis Ph.Ds): Thiemann, Armijos and Andrade.
We're in a recession, but the mosquitoes aren't.
The mortgage meltdown and the resulting green swimming pools are perfect breeding sites for mosquitoes, which can transmit the deadly West Nile virus (WNV). So far this year WNV has sickened 411 Californians, killing 13.
Research just published by UC Davis research entomologist William Reisen and colleagues from Kern County should be required reading. Titled "Delinquent Mortgages, Neglected Swimming Pools and West Nile Virus, California" and published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, it relates that in 2007, the mortgage crisis caused a 300 percent increase in notices of delinquency in Kern County.
"This led to large numbers of neglected swimming pools, which were associated with a 276 percent increase in the number of human West Nile virus cases during the summer of 2007," the authors wrote.
They concluded "These new larval habitats may have contributed to the unexpected early season increase in WNV cases in Bakersfield during 2007 and subsequently have enabled invasion of urban areas by the highly competent rural vector Culex. tarsalis."
If you check out the California WNV Web site, you'll notice that Kern County tallied 140 of the statewide 380 human cases in 2007. (The second highest WNV-afflicted county was Los Angeles with 36.) Total WNV-related fatatlies in 2007 in California: 21.
Bottom line: unmaintained swimming pools are turning into algae-clogged ponds. It's a public health issue that taxes the mosquito and vector control districts and threatens the health and welfare of the community.
What this means is: We are our brother's keeper. We are our sister's keeper. We are our neighbor's keeper. NIMBYS (Not in My Backyard) need to be replaced by YIMBY (Yes, in My Backyard) and YLGI (Yes, Let's Get Involved).
The tiny female insect that needs a blood meal to develop her eggs is going green and we're seeing red.