October 1997



Most readers of the NJMCA Newsletter are aware that Robert Kent generally summarizes the contributions of outstanding individuals for this publication. Profiling Bob indicates that turnabout is fair play. I take the greatest pleasure in having the opportunity to let you know more about this dedicated mosquito professional.

Bob has been active in all aspects of mosquito control in New Jersey for almost 25 years. He started out combing the Raritan Bay Shore as a summer employee for the Monmouth County Mosquito Commission. Working that area was familiar territory for Bob, because he was born and raised in Monmouth County. His work time in Monmouth County was split with a stint on the Rutgers Impact Study, which sought to answer questions regarding the affect of insecticides on the salt marsh ecosystem. After a brief time with the Monmouth County Planning Board, Bob, smitten by Rutgers, returned to the University to work on the Airspray Program under the direction of Dr. Donald Sutherland. In the late 1970's, this program was transferred to the Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Mosquito Control Coordination, and Bob was moved to continue his work, administered by Dr. Ken Bruder.

In the latter position, Bob has made many practical contributions that have bettered mosquito control operations in New Jersey. He still oversees the State Airspray Program. a progressive operation that provides mosquito larviciding and adulticiding services to coastal counties. This shared resource approach is also seen in another program, the State Equipment Program. Capital equipment purchases are made by the Office of Mosquito Control Coordination, which then "leases" the machinery or scientific supplies to a variety of local mosquito control agencies and institutions of higher learning. Bob is responsible for ensuring that the equipment is properly cared for. In addition to the above, Bob has written the specifications and takes bids for insecticide and aerial services contracts that local control agencies can use, saving them time and money in their operations. He is also responsible for oversight of the cooperative program with the State Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife that provides a variety of fish to be used for biological control efforts against mosquitoes throughout New Jersey. This, program, in addition to yielding mosquito control pluses, is a media bonanza which has helped applied control programs shed the image that they are not environmentally oriented.

Not only is Bob a capable administrator of the above programs, but he has been involved in a great deal of applied research. At Rutgers, he played a fundamental role in studying and understanding the most effective methods to apply mosquito control products. With Roy Sofield he wrote one of the earliest computer programs to measure ULV droplet sizes more rapidly, and many agencies still use this program. Bob also conducted very impressive work showing that ULV applications for mosquito control did not adversely affect honeybee populations. He has also gone beyond the expected tasks of his job, having served as President of both the New Jersey Mosquito Control Association and the Northeast Mosquito Control Association.

How did this impressive person get to where he is? A good woman? Well, partially; his wife Terri certainly deserves much of the credit. In terms of formal training, Bob took a somewhat convoluted route. He first took the insights advice of his high school guidance counselor (how many of us have made that same mistake?) and enrolled in Elon College in Burlingtorn, North Carolina. A year in the South of the late 1960's was enough for Bob, and he moved on to Brookdale Community College for a time before transferring to Montclair State College, where he graduated with a degree in Biology in January, 1974. Since that time, he has given his considerable talents almost exclusively to the mosquito control community.

Bob does actually rest occasionally, and his hobbies include sail and power boating. He tries, when he can, to get a few relaxing hours of fishing in most often at or near his beloved Raritan Bay Shore area. Parked in his garage is a past hobby that threatens resurgence every so often - a 1976 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. I can still remember when Bob first got that bike, and although he made fun of my Yamaha RD350 (I think it was actually faster than the Bonny, Bob), we had some great road trips together.

Although Bob is an outspoken, honest and serious advocate for the mosquito control community, he is without any doubt one of the wittiest people you will ever meet. This humor does not translate well to print (at least not by me), so let me give you some parting advice: hang out with Bob for a time when you get the chance. You will agree that his wit and humor easily match his dedication to mosquito control.

Marc Slaff, Ph.D..

Morris County Mosquito Commission

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