Being named a Fellow of the 6000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA) is like winning the Pulitzer Prize in the bug world.
So many talented entomologists out there. So few awards. And even fewer prestigious awards.
When the ESA today announced its 10 Fellows for 2011, two University of California, Davis professors were on the list: Diane E. Ullman, who doubles as the associate dean for undergraduate academic programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and James R. Carey, considered the world’s foremost authority on arthropod demography and a world expert on the invasion biology of tephritid fruit flies, particularly the Mediterranean fruit fly.
Ullman's research revolves around insects that transmit plant pathogens, in particular plant viruses. She is best known for advancing international knowledge of interactions between thrips and tospoviruses and aphids and citrus tristeza virus.
With the additions of Ullman and Carey, the number of ESA Fellows in the UC Davis Department of Entomology totals 15 since 1947, quite an accomplishment for one department.
Read about the Ullman/Carey accomplishments on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website.
Three others affiliated with the UC System made the list:
--Anthony A. James, a distinguished professor of microbiology and molecular genetics in the School of Medicine and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, School of Biological Sciences at UC Irvine.
--Brad Mullens, professor of entomology, College of Agricultural Sciences, UC Riverside, and
--Fred Stephen, who began his forest entomology career at UC Berkeley and is now a professor of entomology at the University of Arkansas
Elsewhere throughout the country, the coveted honor went to Susan Brown, professor of biology at Kansas State University; Angela Douglas, professor of insect physiology and toxicology at Cornell University; Frank Gilstrap, former biology control faculty member with Texas A&M and now retired; Naomi Pierce, Hessel professor of biology at Harvard University; and Marlin Rice, former professor at Iowa State University and now a senior research scientist with Pioneer H-Bred International in Johnston, Iowa.
The 10 new Fellows will be inducted at the ESA's 59th Annual Meeting, set Nov. 13-16, 2011 in Reno, Nev.
The Fellow awards are quite prestigious as the ESA Governing Board can select no more than 10 each year. The society, founded in 1889, is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines.
Headquartered in Lanham, MD, the organization is affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, and hobbyists.
Some folks toast their accomplishments with a bottle of champagne. We suspect these 10 newly selected Fellows might just tip...an insect net.
It's been dubbed "The Manhattan Project of Entomology."
And it may have "the potential to revolutionize the way we think about insects," says Richard Levine, communications program manager of the Entomological Society of America (ESA).
Call it "The Manhattan Project of Entomology." Call it "The i5k Initiative." Call it "The 5,000 Insect Genome Project." They're one and the same and will involve entomologists worldwide sequencing the genomes of 5,000 insects and other arthropods over the next five years.
The goal, as the article in the current edition of American Entomologist states, is “to improve our lives by contributing to a better understanding of insect biology and transforming our ability to manage arthropods that threaten our health, food supply, and economic security."
"We hope that generating this data will lead to better models for insecticide resistance, better models for developing new pesticides, better models for understanding transmission of disease, or for control of agricultural pests," Daniel Lawson, a coordinator at the European Bioinformatics Institute, told Levine. "Moving into the genetics era revolutionizes what you can do, what you can try to assay in your species, what you can infer from your experiments."
Professor Gene E. Robinson of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pointed out: "This will provide information that breeders would need to look for ways of dealing with insect resistance to pesticides. It would also provide geneticists with information on what might be vulnerable points in an insect's makeup, which could be used for novel control strategies."
The first step? Entomologists will sign up to create wiki pages.
"We're trying to find out who's working on what insects, and if they feel that having genomic information about their insects would help," professor Susan J. Brown of Kansas State University told Levine. "Quite a few researchers are probably working on transcriptomics, looking at the genes that are transcribed under certain contexts, environmental conditions or life stages. Looking at the whole genome will help us understand these comparatively and not just in one organism."
This is an exciting project with entomologists networking on a project that will benefit us all. We're especially interested in insects of agricultural and medical importance.
Read Richard Levine's piece in American Entomologist at http://entsoc.org/PDF/2011/AE-15k.pdf.
The industrious honey bee buzzed around a lot during the Linnaean Games at the Entomological Society of America’s recent meeting in San Diego.
Not the honey bee itself—questions about the honey bee.
The Linnaean Games, a college-bowl type quiz featuring insects, entomologists and entomological facts, drew nine teams, with Ohio State University defeating the Univesity of Nebraska in the championship game.
But back to the bees. One of the questions asked was: “The monarch (butterfly) is actually the second most popular state insect. What insect is the most frequently adopted state insect?”
You guessed it—the honey bee.
Another time the Linnaean judging panel posted a photo on the screen and asked the Linnaean teams: “Considering this pest of honey bee hives, what is its common name and the family to which it belongs?”
It was the small hive beetle, Nitidulidae.
Can you answer these questions? (Answers at the end)
1. The order name Hymenoptera can be interpreted as meaning “membranous wing” or “married wing,” which refers to the way the front and hind wings of bees and wasps are linked by little hooks. What is the name of these hooks?
2. How many eyes does a honey bee have?
3. Problems with honey bee hives in what state led to the recognition of colony collapse disorder?
4. What Greek city state used the honey bee as a symbol on its coins?
5. In apiculture, what is the term used to describe the dark discoloration on the surface of comb honey left on the hive for some time, caused by bees tracking propolis over the surface?
1. Hamuli, which are the leading edge of the hind wing.
2. Five: two compound and three ocelli
5. Travel stain
If you got all five right, you're probably an apiculturist. Three to four right, you probably keep bees. One to two right? You've (1) been around bees, (2) listen to the news, or (3) you're related to a beekeeper. Miss all five? You may want to take a course, read a book, or visit an apiary to learn more about these tiny agricultural workers.
Postdoctoral researcher Rebecca “Becky” Trout-Fryxell (right), who studies Culex and Anopheles mosquitoes with University of California, Davis medical entomologists Anthony Cornel and Gregory Lanzaro, just received an award designating her as one of the top young entomologists in the nation.
Trout-Fryxell won one of the five John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Awards presented at the Entomological Society of America’s 58th annual meeting, held recently in San Diego. The Southwestern Branch of ESA selected her at its most outstanding entomology graduate student in a region encompassing Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, plus the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The other four ESA branches—Pacific, Eastern, North Central, and Southwestern Branch—also each selected a recipient.
Trout-Fryxell works with population genetics of the West Nile virus vector Culex pipiens, and does research on the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae.
Fryxell joined the UC Davis team in April of 2009. Cornel is an associate professor of entomology, with offices and labs at UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier, and UC Davis. Lanzaro is a professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine.
Trout-Fryxell previously won a Isley-Duport Entomology Scholarship and was a member of the 2007 Linnaean Games National Championship team from the University of Arkansas. The Linnaean Games is a college bowl-type competition featuring questions about insects, entomologists and entomological facts.
Trout-Fryxell has published her research in Journal of Medical Entomology, Journal of American Mosquito Control, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Medical and Veterinary Entomology, among others, on topics ranging from mosquitoes and ticks to bed bugs.
Trout-Fryxell received her master’s degree in entomology from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, where she studied with major professor Grayson Brown. Her research focused on reducing mosquito populations in the peridomestic environment.
She received her doctorate in entomology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, last May. Studying with major professors Dayton Steelman and Allen Szalanski, she completed her dissertation on the distribution and occurrence of ticks in Arkansas, also examining tick-host pathogen interactions.
The four other winners of the coveted John Henry Comstock Awards:
Pacific Branch: Ashfaq Sial, Washington State University
North Central Branch: Anna Fiedler, Michigan State University
Southwestern Branch: Joe Lewis, University of North Texas
Eastern Branch: Gaylord Desurmont, Cornell
Back, in 2008, mosquito researcher Christopher Barker of the William Reisen lab at UC Davis won the Comstock award from the Pacific Branch.
Davis is definitely a good place to be for mosquito research!
Emcee Tom Turpin of Purdue University stood at the podium and acknowledged he might mispronounce an entomology student's name. "If it sounds anything like your name and I’m looking at you, that’s you."
So began the Linnaean Games, a college-bowl type competition that's as lively as it is entertaining and educational.
And it's all about insects, entomologists and entomological facts.
The Linnaean Games, held at the annual Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting, is an event that pits student-teams against one another until a winner is declared. The 2010 event, hosted in San Diego, ended with Ohio State University winning the championship.
Students buzz in with the answers to questions such as:
What’s the loudest insect in the world? What is the egg case of a cockroach called? Kissing bugs, in the family Reduviidae, are vectors of what disease? About how long have insects been on earth? Give three official common names for Helicoverpa zea.
Ohio State defeated UC Davis, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Georgia and finally, in the championship game, toppled the University of Nebraska.
But first, the Ohio team of Joshua Bryant, Glene Mynhardt, Kaitlin Uppstrom and Nicola Gallagher had to get by the UC Davis team of Meredith Cenzer, Matan Shelomi, Andrew Merwin, and Ralph Washington.
As the crowd cheered them on, the two teams tied the score several times. Finally, with the score knotted at 90-90, Ohio correctly answered the final question to advance to the next round.
Tom Turpin of Purdue emceed the program while a trio of judges--J. E. McPherson of Southern Illinois University, Carol Annelli of Washington State University and Susan Weller of the University of Minnesota--scored the answers.
Each ESA branch sponsors a Linnaean Games competition and sends up to two teams to the nationals.
Pacific Branch sent UC Davis and Washington State University.
Southeastern Branch: University of Georgia and University of Florida
Eastern Branch: Pennsylvania State University (University of Maryland also won at the branch level but did not participate in the nationals)
North Central Branch: Ohio State University and the University of Nebraska
Southwestern Branch: New Mexico State and Texas A&M
Answers to the above questions (see sixth paragraph):
What’s the loudest insect in the world?
African cicada (Brevisana brevis); it has been measured at 106 decibels, (equivalent to a gas mower at 3 feet away).
What is the egg case of a cockroach called?
Kissing bugs, in the family Reduviidae, are vectors of what disease? Answer:
About how long have insects been on earth?
Some 400-380 million years ago.
Give three official common names for Helicoverpa zea?
Corn earworm, tomato fruitworm, and cotton bollworm
Other questions and answers included:
Which sexes of cicadas have tymbals and which have tympana?
Males have both. Females have only tympana.
What term is used to describe the antennae found on male mosquitoes? Answer:
Crickets are well-known music makers. What are the names of the two specialized structures that allow them to make that wonderful noise and where specifically on the body are they located?
File and scraper, located on the forewings.
At what American school was the first entomology class taught and who was the teacher?
Harvard (1805-1822) W.D. Peck.
In the Amazon rain forest, what are the common names of two groups of insects that make up about 1/3 of the biomass of all animals in the habitat?
Ants and termites.
Problems with honey bee hives in what state led to the recognition of colony collapse disorder?
Name two orders of insects that are entirely predatory.
Odonata and Mantodea
The monarch is actually the second-most popular state insect. What insect is the most frequently adopted state insect?
Robert Frost wrote a poem that begins with the lines: “An ant on a table cloth ran into a dormant moth of many times his size.” As you might guess the poem is about ants. What is the title of the poem?