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


CNAS Scholarships:Gifts:Endow D01335


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."


Professor Mulla joined the University of California, Riverside in1956 and retired in December 2006. During his 50-year affiliation with the Department of Entomology, Professor Mulla used his expertise and knowledge of insects and related arthropods to find solutions for vector-associated problems (organisms, such as insects, that transmit pathogens) in California, in the United States, and around the world. His research has included work on the biology and control of flies such as the eye gnats, laboratory and field evaluation of new biological and chemical agents for controlling mosquitoes and nuisance midges, and environmentally friendly approaches for vector control. In addition to his collaboration with vector control agencies in California, he has provided long and distinguished service to international agencies such as the World Health Organization and to scientific societies that strive to improve the health of citizens in all nations of the world. He has authored more than 500 publications and traveled to more than 25 countries in his career. He has supervised five M.S. students and 25 Ph.D. students. Numerous postdoctoral researchers and visiting scientists from both developed and developing countries also worked in Mulla’s laboratory at UCR.

Born in Afghanistan, Professor Mulla came to the United States to obtain an education. He received a B.S. in entomology from Cornell University in 1952 and a doctorate from UC Berkeley in 1956.

His many honors include election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as the Entomological Society of America. In 1986, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Vector Ecology. A decade later, he received the Meritorious Award from the Science Society of Thailand and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. In 2006, the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District honored him for his work on the control of pests in the low desert with the dedication of the Mir S. Mulla Biological Control Facility, and in that same year the Society for Vector Ecology bestowed upon him the Distinguished Achievement Award.

General Purpose

This Fund shall be used to provide scholarship assistance for undergraduate and/or graduate students majoring in Entomology or a related subject, or Bioagricultural Sciences and administered by the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, or its successor, in accordance with University policies and procedures.

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.

The Dr. Mir S. Mulla and Lelia L. Mulla Endowed Scholarship is merit-based. Once the Endowment has reached a level when its annual expendable distribution is $6,000 or more, awards of a minimum of $6,000 will be made annually to one or more undergraduate or graduate students with a minimum 3.5 GPA college coursework who are studying Entomology or a related subject. If there is no Entomology student meeting the criteria, the award may be given to students in related fields of Bioagricultural and/or Biomedical Sciences. The annual expendable distribution of $6,000 or more is to be awarded in a given year (e.g. should the expendable distribution in a given year be $7,500, then one award of $7,500 will be made; if the expendable distribution is $13,000, then two scholarships of $6,500 will be awarded, etc.). The awards are for one year to a given student.

Request for Information: