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.”
The plaque reads: “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."
Working closely with the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California and the California Department of Public Health, he was instrumental in molding the California arbovirus surveillance diagnostics, data management and reporting statewide into an effective decision support system for intervention.
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.”
Reisen, who retired from UC Davis in 2014 from some of his responsibilities, 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.
Reisen earlier received the 2015 Meritorious Service Award from the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California (MVCAC). He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters in the field of medical entomology.
Throughout his career, he 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.
“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,” Downs said.
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, he 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 yellow-fever or dengue mosquito, 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.”
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.
Carlson, to speak on avian (bird) malaria, was one of 20 presenters--five from each specialty section--selected by ESA officials to deliver a Premier Presentation. Her specialty section is Medical, Urban and Veterinary Entomology. A two to three-minute video featuring her and her work will be posted online following her presentation.
Carlson will discuss the work she completed at UC Davis under the tutelage of her major professor, medical entomologist Anthony Cornel, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty who is headquartered at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Parlier. While at UC Davis, Carlson was based in the lab of William Reisen, then a graduate student advisor with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and director of the Center for Vectorborne Diseases, School of Veterinary Medicine. Reisen, now retired, also served on her dissertation committee.
“I will present the avian malaria disease risk predictions for the endemic avian populations on Socorro Island, Mexico, and in the subarctic region of Alaska,” she said. “Using California-based vector competence studies as a guideline, I will discuss how vectors are structuring Plasmodium-host relationships by serving as both a compatibility filter and as an encounter filter. These are extremely important entomological considerations that must be included in a wildlife conservation and management plan, failure to neglect this component in disease risk assessments could result in the collapse of a fragile endemic avian population.”
While at UC Davis, Carlson received a number of honors, including the William Hazeltine Memorial Research Fellowship Awards for four years, 2011 to 2014; the Henry A. Jastro Shields Research Award, 2012 to 2014; and the UC Davis McBeth Memorial Scholarship, 2011 to 2012.
Her current goals are four-fold:
1. To continue conducting research in the field of human and animal disease.
2. To apply her knowledge in vector-borne diseases to help improve human, animal and ecosystem health.
3. To participate in collaborative research on naturally occurring human and animal disease,
4. To learn new molecular techniques that would aid in the identification of re-emerging and novel pathogens.
Carlson received her bachelor of science degree in zoology in 2006 from Colorado, State University and her master's degree in biology in 2008 from San Francisco State University.
Reisen was nominated by the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control 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 a professor emeritus with the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology (PMI), School of Veterinary Medicine. He is the former director of the Center for Vectorborne Diseases (CVEC). He serves as the editor of the Journal of Medical Entomology, and has advised many graduate students affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, PMI or CVEC. He is currently assisting in the completion of four doctorate and one master thesis.
Read more about Reisen's career on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website.
Meritorious service awards may be conferred on MVCAC members or non-members "who have made special and significant contributions to the field of mosquito or vector control in the State of California," according to the award criteria.
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, and Bruce Eldridge, former director of the statewide UC Mosquito Research Program, based at UC Davis, and now professor emeritus of entomology, earlier received the award.
Internationally known for his mosquito research and publications spanning more than four decades, Bill Reisen officially retired in July from the University of California, Davis, but mosquitoes shouldn't breathe a collective sigh of relief and go about their blood-sucking business.
Reisen, now a professor emeritus with the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology (PMI), School of Veterinary Medicine, vows to continue his mosquito research; manage the vector-borne disease surveillance diagnostics lab; advise graduate students in the School of Veterinary Medicine; mentor several new PMI faculty members; direct the Center for Vectorborne Diseases (CVEC) and edit the Journal of Medical Entomology. In between, he and his wife Norma will travel throughout the United States and Europe and to their mango farm in the Philippines.
And along the way, he'll probably encounter the 10 species mosquitoes that he developed a close and personal relationship with--“skeeters” that transmit diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis and West Nile virus.
While other people count sheep to go to sleep, Reisen probably counts mosquitoes at his current or former research sites:
Pakistan? Culex tritaeniorhynchus, Anopheles stephensi and Anopheles culicifacies
Nepal? Anopheles fluviatilis and Anopheles maculatus
California? Culex tarsalis, Culex pipiens complex, Culex stigmatosoma, Aedes dorsalis and Aedes melanimon
Meanwhile, the accolades flow.
“And,” Scott added, “he is a genuinely good person. For those of us fortunate enough to have worked with him, Bill is recognized for the exceptional rigor of his science and uniquely high quality of his character."
Colleague Bruce Eldridge, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, described Reisen as “the hardest working and most dedicated entomologist I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Nearly everything he does has a definite purpose, and the results of his research have improved substantially our ability to protect people from vectorborne diseases both here in California and elsewhere in the world.”
“He has also instilled these principles of hard work and concentration on important subjects to study in a long list of graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and other visiting scientists. People go to Bill all the time for advice and other kinds of help. He never says no. He is a remarkable individual, and I know he won't quit doing the things he does just because he is retiring.”
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.
Young Bill began his academic career as an undergraduate in entomology at the University of Delaware in 1963 and as a research assistant with Clemson University in 1967, monitoring organochloride insecticide residues in fish and aquatic insects. As a teaching assistant at Clemson, he taught animal ecology in 1968 and continued his research on stream ecology and fish-feeding behavior.
Reisen served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force from 1969 to 1971. He was assigned to the 5th Epidemiological Flight, Manila and 1st Medical Service Wing, Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines. His duties included vector-borne disease surveillance and control programs on USAF Bases in Pacific Air Command, which took him on temporary duty to Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Okinawa, Thailand, Guam and Hawaii.
Reisen resumed his academic career from 1971 to 1974 when he taught entomology, zoology, ecology and parasitology courses as a teaching assistant at the University of Oklahoma. He then worked as a research associate from 1974 to 1975 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he did research on a malaria mosquito, Anopheles stephensi, and assisted David Clyde during the first malaria vaccine trials in humans.
In 1975 Reisen was assigned to the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Pakistan Medical Research Center in Lahore, Pakistan, where he served as an assistant professor of international medicine from 1975 to 1980 and headed the Ecology Department. His research involved population ecology and the bionomics of Pakistani mosquitoes and their relation to pathogen transmission and field trials related to genetic control of mosquitoes.
Reisen moved to California in 1980 to become research entomologist and director of the Arbovirus Field Station of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health in Bakersfield. “I worked on population ecology, bionomics, genetics and vector competence of Culex tarsalis in relation to arbovirus ecology and control in California until 1995,” he said. The program later transferred to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1996 and CVEC was born.
“My career can be divided into three phases: (1) education/learning, (2) field research and (3) advising and mentoring,” Reisen said. “Graduate training at Clemson and Oklahoma and my U.S. Air Force assignments in southeast Asia and my position in Pakistan provided a great introduction to how to do field studies and work in remote areas with minimal equipment and support. This training was applied during the 25 years in Bakersfield where we did everything from genetic control trials to host and vector competence studies with several arboviruses.”
“This training and work experience managing integrated field research programs gave me insight on how to mentor graduate students and new faculty, the final phase of my career,” Reisen noted. “The latter experience expanded our research breadth and improved our program immeasurably as I got to know some very bright and engaging students. Throughout my career I was very fortunate to be supported by excellent laboratory and field staff which formed the cornerstone of our NIH-funded research programs.”
Highly honored by his peers, Reisen has received national and international honors that include:
- Lifetime Award for Achievement in Medical Entomology, Society for Vector Ecology, presented at the International Congress, 2001.
- Fellow, Entomological Society of America, 2003.
- Academic Federation Award for Excellence in Research, UC Davis, 2004.
- John N. Belkin Award for Excellence in Vector Ecology, American Mosquito Control Association, 2006
- Distinguished Service Award, Society for Vector Ecology, 2006
- Harry Hoogstraal Medal, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2012
Reisen's work includes 297 peer-reviewed research publications, plus book chapters.
Since 1984, Reisen has guided seven Ph.D. and postdoctoral students: Mark Eberle, UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and Carrie Nielsen, Christopher Barker, Jennifer Kwan, Gabriella Worwa, Tara Thiemann and Sarah Wheeler, UC Davis. He currently serves as the major professor for two graduate students in Comparative Pathology: Veronica Armijos[rev1] , also manager of the Thomas Scott lab in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, and Andra Hutton.
Chris Barker, now an assistant adjunct professor with PMI and CVEC, said that Reisen is “known to virtually everyone who has spent much time studying mosquitoes or the viruses they transmit.”
“Bill has had a very productive and well-documented career represented in his 297 peer-reviewed scientific papers,” Barker said. “His lasting enthusiasm for his work, good humor, and uncommon humility have been an inspiration to all of his colleagues, especially the students and staff who have had the good fortune to be a part of his research program. One unique aspect of Bill's career is that he spent over 30 years in the field and at the lab bench in contact with mosquitoes almost daily, which is increasingly rare in today's world of digital data collection. It is safe to say that Bill will not quit upon retirement, and his intellectual input and wealth of experience will continue to be valued for years to come.”
Sarah Wheeler participated in the “West Nile virus period” of Reisen's career-- first as a technician, then as a PhD student, and finally, as a post-doctoral scholar. “During the West Nile period Bill facilitated and conducted a body of work leading to the understanding of West Nile virus transmission and overwintering in California. Bill's dedication to the field of arbovirology and fierce work ethic inspired me to follow in his footsteps, and along the way he shaped my approach to science through his lead by example style. Bill has been a fabulous mentor and I am unendingly grateful I took his original job offer that sent me out into the middle of nowhere, but opened upon the world of arbovirology.”
Said Reisen: “Although we did spend a lot of time collecting mosquitoes, we also had a large bird program where we collected, bled and tested more than 85,000 wild bird sera for arbovirus infection and did a host of experimental infection studies with birds ranging from house finch nestlings to adult mallard ducks and black-crowned night herons.”
Robert Washino, emeritus professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and a former administrator with the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, lauded Reisen's career.
“Bill has had a very colorful career in medical entomology,” said Washino. He remembers visiting his laboratory at the School of Medicine, Lahore, Pakistan “in another lifetime.”
“Bill's work on several important malaria anopheline vectors in that country constituted important contributions and also included studies on Culex tritaeniorhynchus, the vector of Japanese Encephalitis virus, somewhat comparable to Culex tarsalis, the vector of several arboviruses in the western U.S.,” Washino said.
“Bill will forever be remembered as the continuing lead investigator of the important W. C. Reeves, UC Berkeley arbovirus program in California,” Washino said. He praised Reisen's collaborative work with the California Department of Public Health and local regulatory agencies of the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California.
As for Bill Reisen, “the retiree,” he says he's looking forward to continuing his myriad of mosquito-related activities “to finish up my career and help protect the health of the citizens of California.”
“My final objective,” he said, in typical Reisen humor, “is to learn to play bogey golf.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 2,873 cases in 2012, including 286 deaths. The disease is now "established" in the United States and is here to stay, according to the CDC.
Where did WNV virus come from? How is it spread? Can we predict when and where outbreaks will occur?
Those are some of the questions answered in the academy's free online publication. A video is also posted on that web site.
The Academy convened 22 of the world’s leading experts on West Nile virus in March 2013 to consider and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about West Nile virus. The resultant report provides non-technical, science-based answers to questions that people may have about the virus.
William Reisen, internationally renowned for his comprehensive research on mosquitoes, especially those that transmit encephalitis and WNV, was one of two experts from the systemwide University of California consulted for the publication. The other was Philip Norris, a physician with the Blood Systems Research Institute and UC San Francisco.
Reisen directs the UC Davis-based Center for Vectorborne Diseases, and is a professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology and a graduate student advisor with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Last year he received the international Harry Hoogstral Award for “outstanding achievements in the field of medical entomology.”
Questions on the online publication include:
1. West Nile virus in the news: what happened in 2012?
2. How did WNV get to the United States?
3. How did WNV spread across the country so quickly?
4. How do people get infected with WNV?
5. Why do some people get West Nile fever or neuroinvasive disease? Did they become infected with a “bad” virus?
6. Why was 2012 so bad?
7. If we know what conditions cause WNV outbreaks, can we predict when a new outbreak will emerge and what its severity might be?
WNV, initially discovered in Uganda, is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. It was first detected in the Americas--New York City--in 1999. Within four years, the disease had spread to every state in the contiguous United States.
The publication indicates that "your risk of developing West Nile fever or neuroinvasive disease greatly increases with age and if your infection is transplant tissue associated. In fact, the risk of WNND increases roughly two times for every decade of life. For the younger population, less than 1 in 700 will develop neurological symptoms, but this ration increases to as much as 1 in 50 in those aged 60 or older."
In 2012, "the central United States reported the highest number of West Nile severe disease cases, with Texas shouldering 29 percent of the disease burden. In fact, what made the Texas outbreak so striking is that just four counties in the Dallas/Fort Worth area accounted for 9012 out of 1,868 total reported West Nile cases in the state. Other states hit with large West Nile outbreaks were California, Illinois, Louisiana and Michigan--together the top five states suffered 56 percent of the reported national neuroinvasive disease cases."