Environmental Health Program’s Byrd honored for mosquito work

Brian Byrd, an associate professor in Western Carolina University’s Environmental Health Program, has received a prestigious statewide award for his work in protecting the public from mosquito-borne pathogens.

Byrd is 2018 recipient of the Hamilton W. Stevens Award, presented by the North Carolina Mosquito and Vector Control Association. The award is named for an association past president, as well as former health director for Duplin and Buncombe counties, who was a tireless advocate for mosquito control and public health.

Brian Byrd

Byrd supervises WCU’s Mosquito and Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Facility. In addition to being involved in the applied public health work of the facility, he has given presentations to health directors, county health boards, environmental health specialists and physician groups; assisted with an interview process to hire a medical entomologist for the Communicable Disease Branch within the Department of Public Health in the state’s Department of Health and Human Services; and developed a webinar about mosquito-borne diseases in North Carolina.

Colleagues cite that Byrd has been integral in developing and promoting a new mosquito identification guide for the mid-Atlantic states and is one of the best adult and larval mosquito-identifiers in North Carolina. He recently received a WCU Faculty Research and Creative Activities Award for his research project “Predation Risk for Native and Invasive Rock Pool Mosquitoes: Some Like It Hot, but Does Predation Also Matter… a Lot?”

“Although it is nice to be recognized, and this was a big surprise, I remain grateful for the leadership and support at WCU that affords me the opportunities to try to make a difference in the classroom, community, and in the profession,” said Byrd. “Furthermore, the work that was recognized in the nomination would not have happened without the shared mission and vision with our environmental health students who have contributed in very meaningful ways during the past 10 years.”

Byrd accepted the award during ceremonies at the association’s annual conference held at Carolina Beach on Feb. 12-14.