Durland Fish, a native of Berwick, Pennsylvania, received his B.S. degree at Albright College in Reading, PA in 1966 with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. Upon graduation he was employed with the Pennsylvania Department of Health as a sanitarian and in 1967 became Regional Vector Control Coordinator in charge of insect and rodent-borne diseases. His investigation of a fatal case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in 1968 stimulated a career in public health entomology. In 1970, Fish entered the graduate program in entomology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where he received his M.S. in 1973. He went on to continue his graduate studies at the University of Florida where he received his Ph.D. in entomology with a minor in ecology in 1976.
Fish studied vector ecology at the University of Notre Dame with a fellowship from the National Institutes of Health. He went to New York in 1980 as Assistant Professor of Biology at Fordham University, where he taught ecology and medical entomology. In 1985, he joined the faculty at New York Medical College where he was Associate Professor in the Department of Community and Preventative Medicine and Director of the Medical Entomology Laboratory, and became Director of Lyme Disease Research Center in 1990.
He joined the faculty at Yale School of Public Health in 1994 where became Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases with a secondary appointment to Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Fish also served on the faculty of the interdisciplinary Microbiology Ph.D. Program and the Yale College Environmental Studies Program. He is founding Director of the Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies Center for EcoEpidemiology and serves on the Steering Committee of the Yale Climate and Energy Institute. His research on epidemiology and prevention of vector-borne disease has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Sandia National Laboratory, New York State Dept. of Health, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Mathers Charitable Foundation, and the American Lyme Disease Foundation. He has been awarded the honorary degrees of Doctor of Science from Albright College and Master of Arts from Yale University. He was recipient of a Mentor of the Year Award at Yale School of Public Health in 2012 and received the Hoogstraal Medal in Medical Entomology from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and hygiene in 2015.
Fish retired on July 1, 2015 and is now Professor Emeritus at Yale School of Public Health where he remains active in research, writing, and advising students.
He is a member of many professional scientific societies including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Entomological Society of America and the Ecological Society of America. He has served as chairman of the Medical and Veterinary Entomology Section of the Entomological Society of America, president of the New York Entomological Society, and president of the International Northwestern Conference on Diseases in Nature Communicable to Man. He has also served on Executive Boards for the Society for Vector Ecology, Acarological Society of America, and the American Committee on Medical Entomology of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He has served on Editorial Boards for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Journal of Medical Entomology, and is Founding Editor of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. He has presented over 100 papers at professional meetings and has published more than 130 scientific journal articles in entomology, ecology, and medicine. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, Newsweek, Science, Science News, Audubon Magazine and the New York Times, and he has appeared on numerous television programs including NBC News, NBC Today Show, ABC Nightline, CBS This Morning, and was featured in documentaries produced by The Discovery Channel and BBC.