University of California, Riverside

UC Riverside Foundation Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

Dr. Mir S. Mulla and Lelia Mulla Endowed Scholarship Fund

Dr. Mir S. Mulla and Lelia Mulla Endowed Scholarship Fund


CNAS Dean's Office D01040


Graduate or Undergraduate Student Support

History and Purpose:

Dr. Mir S. Mulla and his wife created the Dr. Mir S. Mulla and Lelia L. Mulla Endowed Scholarship Fund to support an entomology student in CNAS. Dr. Mulla's significant research speaks for itself.

With half a century of helping to solve some of the Coachella Valley's most intractable insect problems, Mir S. Mulla has worked out a lot of the bugs that used to come with living in the desert.

So much so that the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District named its 5,590-square-foot biological control research facility at its Indio headquarters after him during a dedication ceremony held Thursday, April 6.

"The district was founded in 1928 to control the eye gnat problem that impacted life in the Coachella Valley and spread conjunctivitis (pink eye) to such an extent that schools had to be closed from time to time to control its spread," Gomsi said. "In the 1950s the spread of St. Louis Encephalitis by mosquitoes added to the growing number of vector problems the district had to contend with."

So common was the gnat problem in the 1920s and 1930s, that Coachella Valley residents' constant waiving in front of the eyes was known as the "Coachella Hello," added district Board of Trustees Vice President John Fuschetti of Rancho Mirage.

It was Mulla's championing of the use of natural enemies to control pests, an approach known as biological control, which eventually helped bring the eye gnat, biting midge and mosquito problems under control in the Coachella Valley. This development is known as a key factor in allowing the tourist and resort industries to flourish in the valley.

Fuschetti said that biological control became an increasingly important approach to pest control because of three key developments. First, mosquitoes have slowly become resistant to pesticides and built-up immunities to the poisons. Secondly, chemical companies are introducing fewer pesticides due to increased regulation, and research and development costs. Finally, the growing public awareness and concern over the uses of pesticides and their accumulations in the environment are making biological control a more desirable approach.

Mulla's research brought to the valley the rearing and distribution of mosquito fish, which eat mosquito larvae. His research has also advanced the use of tadpole shrimp, another mosquito predator that can live in high water temperatures, survives the drying up of its habitat and grows at a rapid rate when standing water returns. The new facility's rearing operation will be able to produce 300,000 mosquito fish a year, according to district biologists.

"There are 80 to 100 pestiferous species to deal with in the Coachella Valley," Mulla said. "There's no other district in California facing such an insect problem. That requires the cooperation of districts such as this one and the researchers at places like UCR and others to find solutions that are effective and economical.

"Most of the tools used by the district today have been developed or tested in our laboratories at UCR," he concluded. "These tools have contributed to the 90 to 95 percent reduction in the Coachella Valley's eye gnat problem, considered unsolvable in the 1950s and 1960s."

Selection and Guidelines:

This fund will provide financial scholarship assistance for undergraduate and/or graduate students majoring in Entomology or a related subject, or Bioagricultural Sciences and be administered by the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

 Request for Information:

Katie Smith
Academic Advisor
Request Scholarship Information

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Office of Development
1955 Chicago Avenue, Ste. 200, Riverside, CA 92507

Roberta Albert
Assistant Director for Stewardship and Donor Relations
Tel: (951) 827-5247

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