Two of the LSU AgCenter’s researchers died during 2003—William Hallmark, professor of agronomy at the Iberia Research Station, and Michael Perich, an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology.
Hallmark died on Oct. 8 after a long battle with cancer. Hallmark spent his entire career at the Iberia Station in Jeanerette and had a number of research interests. They included identifying the reasons that nitrate accumulates in sudangrass, determining the effect of soil potassium, phosphorus and soil bulk density on the nutrient uptake and nutrient status of soybean seedings, evaluating early maturing soybeans in Louisiana, comparing dallisgrass and Alicia bermudagrass in beef grazing trials, identifying bermudagrasses recommended for production in Louisiana, evaluating sweet sorghum production in Louisiana, and evaluating seed and soil-applied inoculants for soybean production.
Hallmark conducted research on wheat, kenaf and sugarcane. He attracted more than $2 million in grant monies during his tenure with the AgCenter. Some of his most recent projects involved the use of agricultural waste to enhance yields at the lowest cost in sugarcane. His most recent article in Louisiana Agriculture was “Fertility Research Helps Optimize Sugarcane Profits” in the fall 2001 sugarcane issue.
Hallmark earned degrees at three California institutions of higher education and a Ph.D. in agronomy at Purdue University. He came to LSU as an assistant professor in 1979. During the next 24 years, he would advance through the ranks to the level of professor and distinguish himself as a researcher and author of numerous scientific articles.
“Mr. Mosquito” is how Perich, an expert on mosquito-borne diseases, came to be known during his short tenure at the AgCenter. He died Oct. 11 in a one-vehicle accident on Interstate 12 east of Baton Rouge.
Perich’s research concentrated on finding ways to better control the mosquitoes that carry disease to humans and other animals. He led a crusade to hold down the effects of West Nile virus and to get many of the state’s parishes to work toward forming mosquito control districts.
Perich came to the LSU AgCenter in 2001, after spending more than 16 years as a civilian researcher for the U.S. Department of Defense and the Army. In 2001, he received the Superior Civilian Service Award from the U.S. Army, the highest military honor for a civilian. His assignment was protecting troops from the hazards of insects, and he was involved in 29 projects in 12 countries. He had been in more than 40 countries and spoke nine languages.
“I’m not sure whether he actually ever thought of himself as a life saver, but fellow entomologists and many others who worked with him knew Mike Perich’s work certainly had the potential to save lives,” said David Boethel, associate vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter and a fellow entomologist.
Perich received his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and master’s and doctoral degrees from Oklahoma State University.
(This article appeared in the winter 2004 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)