2013 Hodson Alumni Recipient - Eric Mussen

Dr. Eric Mussen received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Entomology from our department in 1969, and 1975, respectively. He earned his B.S. degree in Entomology from the University of Massachusetts (after turning down an offer to play football at Harvard). His graduate work was conducted under the supervision ofProfessors H.C. Chiang and Basil Furgala. While here, he was an active member of the department's Bowling Team, known as the "Bowl Weevil's" (we may need to bring this back).

Eric's PhD research focused on the impact of Nosema spp. on honey bee health -- a topic that continues to be of keen interest today. Given this foundation, he was confronted with many new challenges regarding honey bee health and pollination concerns when he arrived at UC-Davis in 1976. Some 37 years later, he is still actively "tackling" these new challenges (mites, diseases, and Africanized honey bees, to name a few) to enhance the pollination success of California's diverse agricultural cropping systems, with considerable emphasis on almonds.

Bill Hutchison, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Minnesota, presented Mussen with the award at the spring award's event, May 28, 2013. The award memorializes Alexander C. Hodson, Department Head from 1960-1974 who died in 1996. The Hodson Graduate Alumni Award was established in 1998 to recognize and honor outstanding alumni of the Department of Entomology.

Mussen was nominated by Dr. Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Apiculture and 2010 MacArthur Fellow, and Gary Reuter, apiculture technician, both with the University of Minnesota. Faculty and staff from UC Davis contributed to the nomination package.

A native of Schenectady, N.Y., Mussen received his bachelor's degree in entomology from the University of Massachusetts (after turning down an offer to play football at Harvard) and then received his master's degree and doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota.

His doctoral research focused on the epidemiology of a viral disease of larval honey bees, sacbrood virus. "During those studies I also was involved in studies concerning sunflower pollination and control of a microsporidian parasite of honey bees, Nosema apis," Mussen recalled. "Now a new species of Nosema has displaced N. apis and is even more difficult to keep subdued."

Considered by his peers as one of the most respected and influential professional apiculturists in the nation, Mussen was named the California Beekeeper of the Year in 2006, won the American Association of Professional Apiculturists' Award of Excellence in Extension Apiculture in 2007, and in 2008 he received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America. He received the statewide Pedro Ilic Outstanding Agricultural Educator Award in 2010. This year he and four other colleagues ("The Bee Team"--Neal Williams, Robbin Thorp, Brian Johnson and Lynn Kimsey) won the team award from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America.

In brief he is in demand, and he continues to be the primary source for objective information on honey bee health, and pollination in California. Congrats Eric, and thanks again for a stimulating seminar at the Hodson event in May!