2003 Distinguished Alumni
College of Science
Brent Mishler '75, Biology,
'78, M.S. Biology
"I think that the secret to a happy work life is it can't feel like work in your mind."
Brent Mishler's road to academia has led him from being a Cal Poly Pomona biology undergrad and master's student, to a Harvard Ph.D. on a fellowship, and now to UC Berkeley as a distinguished faculty member. At Berkeley, he is director of the largest collection of herbarium material at a public university in the United States.
Mishler has devoted much of his attention to studying mosses and credits his early academic guidance to his Cal Poly Pomona mentors, including Harold Lint, Marion Harthill and Tim Brown, among others.
"None of them published many papers, but all three put their full energy into teaching great classes," he says. "Students, especially late-bloomers such as myself, are served better as biology majors by the best of the CSUs, including Cal Poly Pomona. In the UC, the focus tends to be on graduate students and the professor's own research program, while in the CSU system, the focus remains on undergraduate teaching."
Mishler is particularly interested in systemic and evolutionary biology. He has had 67 peer-reviewed articles published in professional scientific journals and books. The first of his articles, "Preliminary list of Southern California mosses," was co-authored with two other Cal Poly Pomona scientists, and published in The Bryologist only one year after Mishler received his master's degree. His most recent paper is an article on phylogeny that appears in the book Keywords and Concepts in Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Mishler's work has garnered numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and in 2002, he received a five-year grant to study deep green plant phylogenetics.
The College of Science has chosen Brent Mishler as this year's Distinguished Alum for his exceptional dedication to and research in the field of biology.
"I feel honored that some of my former professors felt I had done enough to deserve it. The Cal Poly Pomona biology department is a great one, with a great faculty, and I am very pleased to be recognized by them," Mishler says.