Or an entomologist?
UC Davis Regents Scholar Heather Wilson, a researcher/lab technician in the Frank Zalom lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology, was listening to (I Wanna Be a) "Billionaire," the lead single from Travie McCoy's Lazarus album when she came up with an idea for the Entomological Society of America’s YouTube video contest.
In the hit tune, "Billionaire," McCoy zeroes in on what it might be like to become a billionaire, or rather, what he will do WHEN he becomes a billionaire. He'll be on the cover of Forbes magazine, "smiling next to Oprah and The Queen."
"I wanna be a billionaire, so freakin' (insert alternative adjective here) bad," McCoy sings.
Enter Heather Wilson, a senior majoring in biological sciences. She answered the (I Wanna Be a) "Billionaire" video, created by McCoy and guest vocalist Bruno Mars, with a video of her own.
"I wanna be an entomologist, so freakin' bad," Wilson sings.
"I wanna be on the cover
Of Economic Entomology
Smiling next to Frank and Jim Carey..."
That would be Frank Zalom and James "Jim" Carey, longtime professors in the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Zalom, former vice chair of the department, is in line for the presidency of the 6000-member ESA.
Wilson's video begins rather quietly. A spider prowls its web for unsuspecting insects. Honey bees buzz in and out of a hive. A butterfly flutters into a bush.
A bucolic scene, right?
Wait! The fun is about to begin. Wilson opens a car trunk, retrieves an insect net, and holding it upright like a flag, sprints down a country road like a cartoon character.
She goes on to "count bugs" in the Zalom lab (where she's doing research on the Spotted Wing Drosophila). Then she heads over to the Bohart Museum of Entomology where she wears a resident walking stick on her T-shirt. She cradles a rose-haired tarantula and a Madagascar hissing cockroach. She hugs a display tray of butterfly specimens.
And she does all this with unabated glee.
It's easy to see why Wilson was voted "class clown" at her high school in Anaheim, Calif. But she's also a top scholar. The Regents Scholarship she received is the most prestigious scholarship on the UC Davis campus and is based solely on academic and personal achievements.
Someone asked us "What's this all about, craving so badly to become an entomologist?"
Well, you have to watch the "Billionaire" video to know what's going on. It's a parody! And Heather Wilson pulls it off perfectly.
Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology and an avid fan of all things entomological, points out that "It's unrealistic that we can ALL become billionaires. But honestly, we can all set our sights on becoming an entomologist. Now that’s a realistic dream.”
Meanwhile, Wilson is preparing a research presentation on the Spotted Wing Drosophila for the 59th Annual ESA Meeting, to be held Nov. 13-16 in Reno.
And meanwhile, her video is going viral.
Now Zalom, integrated pest management (IPM) specialist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will be sharing his skills worldwide.
He's the newly elected vice president-elect of the 6000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), the world's largest association of entomologists. This means he'll move up to vice president and then president, and finally, serve a year as past president. Overall, it's a four-year commitment.
Entomologists have long admired Zalom, a professor of entomology and former vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, for his pest and crop expertise and his leadership skills. He's known statewide, nationally and internationally on the IPM front. In fact, the name, "Zalom," is synonymous with IPM.
Zalom, who directed the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years, sets many of the standards for IPM strategies and tactics; these include monitoring procedures, thresholds, pest development and population models, biological controls and use of less toxic pesticides.
Zalom focuses his research on California specialty crops, including tree crops (almonds, olives, prunes, peaches), small fruits (grapes, strawberries, caneberries), and fruiting vegetables (tomatoes), as well as the international IPM program.
Within the last decade, the Zalom lab has responded to six important pest invasions, with research projects on glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, and the spotted wing Drosophila.
Zalom is also a prolific author. In his three decades with the UC Davis Department of Entomology, he has published almost 300 refereed papers and book chapters, and 340 technical and extension articles. The articles span a wide range of topics related to IPM, including introduction and management of newer, soft insecticides, development of economic thresholds and sampling methods, management of invasive species, biological control, insect population dynamics, pesticide runoff mitigation, and determination of host feeding and oviposition preferences of pests.
Frank Zalom will be the second UC Davis entomologist to head ESA, which was founded in 1889 and is now headquartered in Lanham, Md. The first was Donald McLean, former professor/chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology; McLean served as ESA president in 1984.
Congratulations, Frank Zalom!
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.