In memoriam: John Casida
John Casida, 88, a world-renowned entomologist and toxicologist at UC Berkeley who died June 30 of a heart attack in his home, was a global authority on how pesticides work and their effect on humans.
A distinguished professor emeritus of environmental science, policy and management and of nutritional sciences and toxicology, Casida was the founding director of the campus's Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology Laboratory.
When awarded the Wolf Prize in Agriculture in 1993, the Wolf Foundation lauded his “research on the mode of action of insecticides as a basis for the evaluation of the risks and benefits of pesticides and toxicants, essential to the development of safer, more effective pesticides for agricultural use,” according to a UC Berkeley News Service story. "His discoveries span much of the history of organic pesticides and account for several of the fundamental breakthroughs in the fields of entomology, neurobiology, toxicology and biochemistry.”
Casida opened multiple new fields ranging from fundamental cell biology through pharmaceutical discovery.
"He pioneered new technologies throughout his career, from being one of the first to use radioactive compounds for pesticide metabolism through studies with accelerator mass spectrometry, photoaffinity labeling and others," said Bruce Hammock, founding director of the UC Davis National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program and director of the UC Davis NIH/NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory.
"Yet the greatest impact of his career probably lives on in the numerous scientists he trained, now carrying on his traditions of excellence in science. These scientists are around the world in governmental, industrial and academic careers.”
“John continued his high productivity until his death with major reviews on pesticides in 2016, 2017, and 2018 in addition to numerous primary papers,” Hammock noted. “He was working on primary publications as well as revising his toxicology course for the fall semester at the time of his death. Pesticide science was the theme of his career, and we live in a world with far safer and more effective pest control agents because of his effort.”
Casida is survived by his wife, artist and sculptor Kati Casida, sons Mark and Eric Casida, and two grandchildren.
Read more about Casida's career at //ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=27808.