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In memoriam: Marjorie Hoy

Marjorie Hoy, first woman faculty member of the UC Berkeley Department of Entomology, looks for mites on a plant.

Marjorie Hoy, first woman faculty member of the UC Berkeley Department of Entomology, died on Friday June 19, 2020, in Colorado. She was 79. Details about the cause of her death are still developing, but her passing was unexpected, according to Vernard Lewis, her former UC Berkeley Rausser College of Natural Resources colleague and emeritus UCCE urban entomology specialist.

Hoy is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking research with the first laboratory-modified natural enemy used in a pest management program. For biological control of spider mites in almond orchards, Hoy and her team selected western orchard predatory mites for resistance to three pesticide classes. At the time, the biological control program saved almond growers an estimated $20 million a year. 

“It reduced acaricide rates dramatically from three times a season to one-tenth the label rate and mostly spot treating,” Hoy said in a 2019 interview with American Entomologist. “I give lots of credit to the Cooperative Extension folks in California; they would help me find cooperative growers.”

Hoy attended the University of Kansas as a National Merit Scholar and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in zoology and entomology in 1963. 

“Dr. Hoy was an exceptionally talented and rare individual who spent considerable time in CNR,” Lewis said. “She received her M.S. (1966) and Ph.D. (1972) in the former Department of Entomology. Time to completing her Ph.D. was phenomenal, 1.5 years – a record! After leaving briefly for a post doc position in Connecticut, she returned to CNR as an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology in 1976. She achieved the rank of full professor six years later. In 1992, she accepted the Davies, Fischer and Eckes Endowed Chair in Biological Control at the University of Florida.”

In 2015, she retired as Professor Emerita of Biological Control at the University of Florida.

“Dr. Hoy was a pioneer in insect molecular genetics, in particular as it applied to biological control and agricultural acarology,” Lewis said. “Her book, Insect Molecular Genetics, is considered a classic. Her publication list is lengthy, at least 159 peer-reviewed articles and 53 book chapters and books.”

By some estimates, Hoy's research has been cited as many as 12,000 times, according to Lewis and retired USDA Forest Service scientist Michael Haverty. 

As a professor, Hoy was an advisor and mentor to 12 master's students, 15 Ph.D. students, as well as 20 postdoctorate researchers, with many achieving successful academic careers. 

“She was a knowledgeable and dynamic instructor, as well as an advocate for increasing diversity among students and academic hires in entomology,” Lewis said.


Posted on Monday, June 22, 2020 at 8:40 AM

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