Fred Warner “Retires” August 30 2022

After 36 years as part of the staff of MSU, Fred Warner has retired to pursue other interests.

Do what you love and you will never work a day describes Warner’s career, as he has always had a passion for parasites. Originally from Cape Cod MA, Warner spent “a lot of time fishing and exploring nature,” as well as developing an early interest in insect pests. “The neighbors would bring their dogs to me and I would diagnose the ticks!” Fred says part of the excitement was inventing ways to dispose of the ticks after removing them from the dogs.

First in his family to go to college, Fred began at a pre-vet program here at MSU In 1975, and worked for several years as a veterinary technician, where heart worms in dogs piqued his curiosity. “I had read ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ as a kid and I always wanted to be a veterinarian.” Fred says among his fondest memories are when his family sent care packages to his dorm room in Abbot Hall, and he shared them will the entire floor.


However, his interest in some of the pre-vet courses was lacking, and when he took an entomology course with Dr Roland Fisher, as well as a class with Dr George Bird, Warner discovered he was very good at identifying tiny things under a microscope. “I found that my fascination with parasites, and how they are a concern with everyone, everywhere, really motivated me,” Fred says.

When he made the shift from veterinary medicine to parasites, he had to convince his family that “working with insects is just as good,” he says. “My family was disappointed to hear I transitioned from veterinary med to insects. But, after being at MSU for a while, my mission sort of changed. I just enjoyed being at MSU and wanted to remain at a university.” And Fred quickly found his forte.

In his many years of service, Fred has seen many changes at MSU. “I started working in the diagnostic lab in 1986, and at that time we were 100% funded on hard money,” Fred says. “Within 10 years,, three diagnostic labs on campus were combined in the Center for Integrated Plant Systems (CIPS) and funded with soft money. “But the nematode portion of the lab brought in up to two-thirds of the annual volume in fees,” Fred says.

Along the way, Warner found an interest in teaching, and taught parasitology to undergrads, including Angela Tenney, who started working alongside Fred in the lab in 1995. “I love showing people how we are all connected through our parasites.”

Inspired by the show “Monsters Inside Me” on Animal Planet, Warner continues to spread his enthusiasm for parasites broadly among MSU’s non-science majors, teaching a course in parasites in the Integrative Studies – Biology program.

In addition to teaching, Fred says he plans to spend more time tending the very large garden on his country estate just south and west of Lansing, traveling to the Caribbean where he enjoys beachcombing, snorkeling, and the occasional round of golf, leaving nematode diagnostics in the capable hands of his long-term colleague Angela Tenney.

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