Link to home

William J. Moller Student Travel Award

Colleagues and friends have established this award in honor and memory of Dr. William J. Moller. 


William J. Moller
Dr. William J. Moller was one of the most productive and effective plant pathologists and extension specialists in the University of California and state of California. He directed an applied research and extension program in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), that primarily focused on the diseases of deciduous tree fruit, nut crops, and grapes. His untimely death on June 23, 1981, left a void at that time in the university’s programmatic efforts to address diseases of grapes and orchard crops.

Born in 1936 in Adelaide, South Australia, Dr. Moller obtained a B.S. degree in 1959 and an M.S. degree in 1964 from the University of Adelaide, majoring in plant pathology and horticulture. In 1964, he came to the United States for further graduate study, completing his Ph.D. degree in plant pathology at UC Davis in 1967. Dr. Moller returned to Australia as a senior horticultural research officer (plant pathology) with the South Australia Department of Agriculture, but California beckoned, and he returned to Davis in 1970 as an extension plant pathologist.

Dr. Moller’s record in applied research and extension during his 11 years at UC Davis was truly outstanding. His work in demonstrating that “dead-arm” of grapes is a disease complex caused by two different fungi instead of by a single organism, as previously thought, provided the basis for effective control of this disorder, not only in California, but also in other grape-producing areas of the world. Another important accomplishment was his service as coordinator for a highly successful IPM project on fireblight of pears that involved a team of basic researchers, extension personnel, pest control advisors, and growers. The end result was a new and highly effective fireblight management program for California. He made other important contributions to our knowledge of the nature and control of such diseases as Ceratocystis canker of almond and prune, Eutypa dieback of apricot, crown gall of stone fruits, leaf scorch of almond, pear decline, walnut blight, root and crown-rot diseases of cherries and walnuts, and apple scab. Dr. Moller was a good team researcher, and most of his investigations were conducted cooperatively with either experiment stations or extension personnel. He authored or coauthored more than 150 research or extension papers on diseases of grapes and deciduous fruit and nut crops. His excellent mission-oriented research attracted world-wide attention and resulted in his being invited to attend both national and international conferences and to serve as consultant in other states and foreign countries. He received further recognition when, in 1980, at the national meeting of The American Phytopathological Society he received the CIBA-Geigy award for his significant contributions to the advancement of knowledge of plant diseases and their control.

Although the foregoing has emphasized Dr. Moller’s research accomplishments, it should be noted that he was equally preeminent in his capacity as an extension plant pathologist. He had the ability to present, both orally and in writing, highly technical information in a manner readily understood by farm advisors, pest management operators, growers, and other industry people. Dr. Moller’s performance as an extension specialist ranked him among the top few in the university’s statewide system at that time. In addition to his research and extension activities, he also functioned effectively in funding the research of several graduate students seeking M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. Dr. Moller was a complete plant pathologist, a true leader, and an inspiration to both students and staff. Not long after his death, in recognition of Dr. Moller’s outstanding contributions to applied plant pathology and extension, the Department of Plant Pathology, UC, Davis, established a departmental William J. Moller Memorial Fund, which has been used over the years for an annual award to a graduate student in the department to recognize excellent research on a disease of grapes or an orchard crop.