Paul R. Bowser ’70 recognized for dedication to fish health

Paul Raymond Bowser ’70 was recognized as a Distinguished Friend of the Eastern Fish Health Workshop at the 43rd Annual Workshop this April. The Eastern Fish Health Workshop  is considered one of the premier annual meetings of the fish health community in North America.  Bowser established one of the longest records of support of and participation in the Eastern Fish Health Workshop, having first participated in the third Eastern Fish Health Workshop hosted by Auburn University in 1978. During the past 40 years, in addition to presentations he and his students have made, Bowser has organized and chaired numerous scientific sessions as well as developed a number of continuing education programs presented in association with the workshop.

The Distinguished Friend awards are reserved for individuals with established careers of excellence in the fish health profession and who have been dedicated to serving the Eastern fish Health Workshop.

Paul Bowser and colleague stand next to a lake sturgeon specimen.

Because of the high standards that are expected of any honoree, the recognition is not necessarily an annual event and only one individual will be honored in any given year.  Bowser was the ninth individual to earn this distinction.

Bowser completed a bachelor’s degree in fisheries science at Cornell University in 1970, an M.S. in fisheries biology at Iowa State University biology, and a Ph.D. in fish health from Auburn University where he worked on the Channel Catfish Herpesvirus.  In 1985, Bowser joined the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine, where he served until his retirement in 2014 as a Professor Emeritus of Aquatic Animal Medicine. He taught courses in fish anatomy, histology and health management, and also taught in the AQUAVET Program for 30 years and served as associate director of that program for 25 years.

Bowser’s primary research interests include infectious and non-infectious diseases of fish, viral-induced tumors in fish and evaluation of new therapeutic compounds for treating diseases of fish. His laboratory was heavily involved in studies of the emergence of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia in a wide variety of fish species found in the Great Lakes Basin. His laboratory group also provided fish disease diagnostic services to aquaculturists and researchers.

Bowser wrote or co-authored over 210 peer-reviewed publications and was the principal investigator or co-PI on over $8 million in extramural grant funds. He also trained numerous graduate students, veterinary students, summer AQUAVET research students, and undergraduates in his laboratory.

Bowser is an American Fisheries Society Certified Fishery Scientist, followed by Certified Fisheries Professional Emeritus status, has held Fish Pathologist certification from the Fish Health Section, American Fisheries Society from 1983 through to his retirement, and served as President of the Fish Health Section from 2002-2003. He received the SUNY Faculty Award for Faculty Service in 2007; the S.F. Snieszko Distinguished Service Award from the Fish Health Section, American Fisheries Society in 2009; the National Sea Grant College Program -  Research to Application Award in 2010; the Christensen Award for Excellence in Fish Health from the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine in 2013 (the fourth time the award was presented since it was established in 1988); and the New York Sea Grant Award of Excellence in 2014.  In 2015, he was granted life membership in the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine and in 2016 was awarded honorary membership in the New York State Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.