In memoriam: Nilima Castle

Dr. Nilima Castle passed away on January 15, 2020, just 3 months after the passing of her husband of 35 years, Dr. Steven J. Castle.

Nilima and Steve resided in Phoenix, AZ, where Steve was an ARS scientist at the USDA Western Cotton Research Laboratory in Phoenix, which became the Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa, AZ. Nilima was a Research Specialist in the Entomology Department at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), yet she spent much of her time at the USDA lab in Arizona. She retired from UCR in 2018 after a career of service spanning some 30 years. Nilima was born in Hyderabad City, the capital of the state of Telangana in India, on May 25, 1948. She was the second oldest in a family of five; her father was a Methodist Minister. She attended a Methodist Mission school in Hyderabad, after which she completed undergraduate and graduate studies at the University in Hyderabad. She earned her PhD in Entomology at UCR in 1982 under the mentorship of Dr. George Giorghiou, studying organophosphate resistance in the mosquito, Culex tarsalis.

While attending UCR, Nilima met Steve, a doctoral student in Dr. Tom Perring’s lab, and they were married in 1985. After Steve’s graduation in 1989, they moved to Idaho for a few years as post-graduate researchers, before returning to southern California, where Steve became a post-doctoral associate with the ARS in 1992. He served in this position for 6 years, at which time he became a permanent research scientist with the ARS Lab in Phoenix. During this time, Nilima became an integral part of the research enterprise at UCR, working in the lab of Nick Toscano. In 1992, Nilima and Steve moved to Arizona, but Nilima continued her research efforts at UCR working with Nick Toscano, Joe Morse, and Tom Perring; she funded her own position over this time through grants and industry support.

Nilima was a gifted scientist, particularly in the area of resistance management. She was an author/coauthor on approximately 50 scientifically reviewed articles and book chapters, and she published a number of proceedings articles from the many meetings that she and Steve attended. A large part of her research focused on whiteflies in the genus Bemisia, which cause series economic injury to crops worldwide. She also worked on the insecticide susceptibility of the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a vector of the bacterium that causes Pierce’s disease in grapevines. Furthermore she contributed to our understanding of insecticide-pest interactions with a variety of other agricultural pests, including aphids, mealybugs, bagrada bug, and the natural enemies that attack these pests. Because of her expertise, Nilima received numerous requests to speak to industry representatives and scientific audiences throughout her career.

While known in the scientific community for her excellence in research, Nilima also will be remembered for her modesty and extreme generosity. Her friends and colleagues have fond memories of sharing meals that Nilima prepared, or those dinners that she and Steve hosted at restaurants. Nilima went overboard to make you feel comfortable and welcomed; it was always about how she could serve you, never about what you could do for her. She was gracious in her social interactions and her professional relationships. Nilima leaves behind a large family, including a brother, sisters, brothers-in-law, cousins, nephews and nieces and many very close friends throughout the world. She was a gracious spirit and a wonderful friend and colleague, who will be greatly missed.

Prepared by: Tom Perring