Bradley I. Hillman was born in Tucson, AZ. He received his B.S. degree from the University of California (UC) Berkeley in 1978 and his Ph.D. degree in 1986 also from UC Berkeley. As a Ph.D. student with Jack Morris, he focused on the molecular biology of Tomato bushy stunt virus, characterizing the first defective interfering RNAs of a plant virus and opening up a fertile research field in which hundreds of research articles have been published since that time. As a postdoctoral research associate with Andy Jackson at UC Berkeley, he investigated the plant rhabdovirus Sonchus yellow net virus. In 1987, Hillman initiated studies as a postdoctoral fellow with Don Nuss at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology on viruses associated with hypovirulence of the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica. He began a tenure-track faculty position at Rutgers University in 1989, rising to full professor in 2001. There, he has developed a program balanced between applied and basic research, including viruses and fungi. He has taught a number of different courses at Rutgers, including the undergraduate courses Comparative Virology and Perspectives in Agriculture and the Environment and the graduate courses Plant Virology, Principles of Plant Pathology, Advanced Plant Pathology, Introduction to Plant Biology, Seminar in Plant Pathology, Seminar in Plant Biology, and Presentation Skills. He has served as director for the graduate programs in plant pathology (3 years) and plant biology (4 years).
Hillman’s research on fungal viruses has emphasized the wide array of viruses and transposons of C. parasitica. His published work has included the molecular characterizations of several viruses, including the first mitochondrial RNA virus of any organism; the first fungal member of the important virus family Reoviridae and establishment of the genus Mycoreovirus; identification of the first virus-resistant mutant of a filamentous fungus; identification of three of the four different species of the virus family Hypoviridae (the viruses responsible for most hypovirulence of C. parasitica); and the discovery of two transposons of C. parasitica.
His applied research at Rutgers has focused on virus diseases of blueberry and cranberry, two of the most important crops in New Jersey. This has included development and implementation of virus detection methods, characterization of the carlavirus associated with blueberry scorch disease, construction and manipulation of the first infectious cDNA clone for a member of the carlavirus group, and examination of the ecology and epidemiology of this carlavirus, the most important virus of blueberries. His group also characterized at the molecular level the caulimovirus that causes red ringspot disease of blueberry.
The third area of Hillman’s research program concerns fungal diseases of turfgrass. The Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Research Science is known internationally and has a very strong and collaborative faculty. His research in this area has included examination of viruses of endophytic and epiphytic fungi, including the first molecular description of a member of the family Partitiviridae, investigation of the summer patch pathogen Magnaporthe poae, and most recently, examination of the members of the genus Colletotrichum responsible for anthracnose disease of turf and other grasses. The last project, with Bruce Clarke and JoAnne Crouch, Rutgers University, has become a major research focus. Recent studies from this group on the turfgrass pathogens have led to a redescription of the species, changing the designation from Colletotrichum graminicola to Colletotrichum cereale. Hillman’s research program has been funded through individual or collaborative competitive grants to USDA NRI and NSF and by other public and private funding agencies.
Hillman’s service record is exemplary. At Rutgers, Hillman has served as director of the graduate programs in plant pathology (1992–1995) and plant biology (1995–1998) and as vice chair of the Plant Pathology Department (1999–2001). He currently serves as director for research and senior associate director, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES), as well as vice chair, Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, Rutgers University, a department of more than 50 faculty members. Hillman is or has been a member of NE-140 and NE-1015 regional research projects (1987–present; chair of NE-140, 1995); a member of four USDA NRI panels (panel manager, 2007); a member of the Rutgers University/Busch Biomedical Grants Panel (every year, 1996–2007); a member of the Executive Committee and chair of the Fungal Virus Subcommittee, International Committee for the Taxonomy of Viruses (1999–2005); in the Rutgers University Senate (2000–2003); and on many departmental, college, and university committees. Hillman has reviewed more than 300 manuscripts from 35 journals and more than 150 grants from 12 agencies since 1989. He currently serves as editor for the journal Virus Research. Service to APS performed by Hillman has been extraordinary. He has served on the Virology Committee (1990–1993 and 1996–1999); on the Northeastern Division (NED) Graduate Student Award Committee (1990–1992; chair, 1992); on the NED Site Selection Committee (1993–1995); as an associate editor, Phytopathology (1995–1996); as a senior editor, Phytopathology (1996–1999); as editor-in-chief, Phytopathology (1999–2002); on the APS Publications Board (1999–2002; chair, 2000); on the APS Council (1999–2002); on the Ad Hoc APS Governance Committee (2001–2002); and on the Ad Hoc APS Awards Committee (2002) and has organized and participated in the Joint APS/MSA Discussion Session on Mycoviruses (2001 Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City).
Among his awards and honors are a Chancellor’s Patent Fund Grant, UC Berkeley (1985); William Caroll Smith Fellowship, UC Berkeley (1986); Rutgers University Presidential Board of Trustees Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence (1995); Cook College/NJAES Research Excellence Award (1995); Team Research and Outreach Excellence Award (1996); USDA Group Honor Award for Excellence to NE140 Regional Research Project (1997); and Award of Merit, Northeastern Division of APS (2003).