Tribute to Bryce Falk by Tera Pitman

Bryce is retiring!

As many of you know Dr. Bryce Falk, distinguished professor, is retiring at the end of June. Effective July 1st he will be known as Dr. Bryce Falk, professor emeritus. His career has spanned more than four decades and five institutions beginning with his undergraduate alma mater, California Polytechnic Institute at San Louis Obispo, where he graduated with a B.Sc. in Biology in 1974. Other notable events that occurred that year were the first F-16 test flight, the rediscovery of the terracotta army of Qin Shi Huang, the resignation of Richard Nixon, and the first (and last) 10-cent beer night at a major league baseball game. It did not end well.

Upon graduation Bryce moved to UC Berkeley to pursue a degree in Plant Pathology, where he received both an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in that field. He received those degrees in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and stayed on to work as a research assistant. If you are curious about life in Berkeley in the 70’s please ask him, he has some great stories. His next career step was a two-year post-doc position at UC Riverside. This was followed by a position as assistant professor position at the University of Florida, Everglades, where he spent five years. In 1985 he was hired at UC Davis as an assistant professor in Plant Pathology, where he has spent the remainder of his career. In the 36 years he has spent at Davis he has mentored 31 graduate students, 32 post-docs, numerous visiting scholars, and countless undergraduates. He is equally passionate about scientific research and teaching and has always shared his love of science with students in such courses as PLP120: Intro to Plant Pathology, MIC162: General Virology, and PLP230: Virology. If you remember how to calculate virus T numbers (or at least remember what type of virus they are relevant to), remember to thank Bryce and Dr. George Bruening for such in-depth and comprehensive lectures in virology.

Bryce’s research interests have included both fundamental and applied topics in virology. He has co-authored 218 publications to date, with more to be completed in retirement. Contributions to the field include describing cap-snatching in the tenuivirus maize stripe virus, characterizing virus-encoded protein interactions within plant hosts, describing novel plant pathogenic viruses, mechanisms of virus-induced gene silencing in plants and insects, and utilizing virus vector expression systems for inducing RNAi in plants and insects. He has been on editorial boards for several academic journals.  He is a Fellow for both the American Phytopathological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been on advisory panels for both the USDA and EPA. His career has been prolific and touched the lives of many young scientists, but his proudest achievement are his three daughters and four grandchildren. His wife, Debbie, also deserves congratulations for supporting such a hard worker and for finally getting Bryce for all those chores at home that he has been putting off for the last forty-something years.

Please join me in congratulating Bryce on a well-earned retirement after a very successful career. If you need his help starting July 1st, you can probably find him fly fishing at Diamond Lake. An ice-cold IPA works well as bribery.