Armand Richard Maggenti


Dr. Armand Richard Maggenti died in Davis, California, USA on June 11, 2010 at the age of 77. He is remembered internationally as an educator and philosopher with a detailed appreciation of the breadth, diversity and relationships within the phylum Nemata (his preferred terminology).

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Born on February 15, 1933 in San Jose, California, Dr. Maggenti attended the prestigious St. Mary’s College High School and, during those years, he achieved the Eagle Scout ranks of the Boy Scouts of America.  He obtained a B.S. degree in Entomology and Parasitology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1954 and continued at the same institution to complete his PhD in Entomology in 1958.  Armand’s Ph.D. studies, conducted under the guidance of Dr. Merlin Allen, were on the biology, morphology and taxonomy of the genus Plectus.  Immediately after his Ph.D. dissertation was submitted and accepted, Armand was appointed by Dr. Dewey Raski to the position of Lecturer and Assistant Nematologist in the newly formed Department of Nematology at the University of California, Davis, where he served the remainder of his professional career.  He chaired the department from 1973 to 1978 and was Associate Dean of Student Affairs between1982 and 1987.  He retired in 1993 and was appointed Emeritus Professor of Nematology.

            Dr. Maggenti was an outstanding and popular teacher who effortlessly drew on his breadth of knowledge of the organisms of the phylum to illustrate principles of biology, ecology and parasitology. His lectures were enriched by anecdotes of the activities of his mentors and colleagues and of his personal research experiences. His Nematology 110 class, Introduction to Nematology, was especially popular with undergraduate students, despite the fact that it was an elective and had an undesirable 8 am starting time.  Dr. Maggenti’s reputation as a teacher was such that enrollment in the class regularly approached 100 students.  Twenty years after he last taught the class, former students regularly visit Department of Nematology exhibits at the annual UC Davis “Picnic Day” open house to enquire about Dr. Maggenti and to introduce spouses and children to the world of nematodes.  

           Armand was a respected and valued mentor of graduate students; former students and visiting scientists frequently recall protracted discussions around the mid-morning coffee pot. For varying periods throughout his career, Dr. Maggenti taught Nematode Taxonomy and Comparative Morphology and a separate class on Principles and Techniques of Taxonomy and Morphology, as well as a significant portion of a class on the Biology of Parasitism.  During his career he received several awards for teaching excellence, including the James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award and the Magnar Ronning Award.  

Significant throughout Armand Maggenti’s career is the impact of the many nematological luminaries with whom he had the opportunity to collaborate and interact. Those interactions were reflected in his teaching and his writing. Besides Drs. Allen and Raski, both Honorary Members and founder members of the Society of Nematologists, Armand’s early career development was strongly influenced during his graduate studies by Dr. Benjamin Chitwood who was working with E.C. Dougherty at the nearby Kaiser Institute in Richmond. His interactions with Chitwood included many late night discussions on all aspects of the evolution, systematics and biology of nematodes. In addition to the mentored projects of his several graduate students, Armand Maggenti published with Drs. Dougherty, Chitwood, Timm, and Croll. He collaborated with Drs. Fortuner, Geraert, Luc and Raski in the important 1987 and 1988 revisions of the suborder Tylenchina. 

Besides his contributions to our theories and understanding of nematode phylogeny and the evolution of parasitism in the phylum, Dr. Maggenti worked on the control of plant-parasitic nematodes in strawberry and ornamental plant production.  His book entitled “General Nematology”, published in 1981, has been particularly useful for reference and teaching purposes; it is an excellent resource on the anatomy, morphology, life cycles and classification of the phylum. With his first wife MaryAnn Basinger Maggenti, who died in 2001, Armand co-authored the extensive "Dictionary of Invertebrate Zoology”, which is now published on-line.

Dr. Maggenti was elected Fellow of the Society of Nematologists in 1990.

                Armand Maggenti was an avid outdoorsman; a hunter and an accomplished fly fisherman. He is survived by his wife Joan, his sister, his sons Timothy and Peter and their respective families. Colleagues and former students, and indeed the discipline of Nematology, will sorely miss his insights, breadth of knowledge and enthusiasm.


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