Lately she's been heavily involved in ongoing studies with the endemic insect species of the Algodones Dunes in southern California and with the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups in Indonesia. Scientists and students from throughout the world clamor to work with her.
Now she's the recipient of the UC Davis Academic Senate's Distinguished Public Service Award.
That would be Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"The Bohart Museum is SO friendly and SO helpful and SO knowledgeable" is a comment heard all the time.
The nearly eight million insect specimens housed in the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, are, in many respects, her babies. That's how well she and her staff treasure them, care for them, and engage people in the fascinating world of insects. Her "clientele" range from scientists to citizen scientists, from families to individuals, and from pre-schoolers to senior citizens.
“Dr. Kimsey has made outstanding contributions to public service and education through the numerous programs she has envisioned and directed through the Bohart Museum of Entomology,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “She is very deserving of this prestigious award.”
She will be honored at a combined Academic Senate/Academic Federation awards ceremony during the spring quarter.
Highly esteemed for her public service, teaching and research, Kimsey consults with international, national and state agencies; identifies thousands of insects every year for scientific collaborators, public agencies and the general public; answers scores of news media calls and insect questions; and encourages a greater appreciation of insects through the Bohart Museum open houses, workshops and lectures.
Her areas of expertise include insect biodiversity, systematics and biogeography of parasitic wasps, urban entomology and arthropod-related industrial hygiene.
Kimsey, who received both her undergraduate degree (1975) and her doctorate (1979) from UC Davis, joined the entomology faculty in 1989. The director of the Bohart Museum and executive director of the Bohart Museum Society since 1990, she has also served as interim chair and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, now the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
A two-year past president of the International Society of Hymenopterists, and a former board member of the Natural Science Collections Alliance, Kimsey is active in the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Washington Entomological Society. The Pacific Branch of ESA (PBESA) honored her and colleagues Eric Mussen, Robbin Thorp, Neal Williams and Brian Johnson—“the UC Davis Bee Team”--with the outstanding team award in 2013. Kimsey also received the PBESA Systematics, Evolution and Biodiversity Award in 2014.
Nominators spotlighted some of her major accomplishments and activities:
Bohart Museum of Entomology: Kimsey turned a tiny museum, a hole in the wall, into a thriving world- renowned museum through her highly successful leadership, knowledge and dedicated efforts to make the museum the place to be—not only for scientific collaborators but for the public. The museum holds open houses on many weekends during the academic year. It has a gift shop and a live “petting zoo” filled with Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and a rose-haired tarantula named “Peaches,” a crowd favorite. Kimsey has written spring, summer, fall and winter newsletters since 1994 and a total of 56 insect/arthropod educational fact sheets, with topics ranging from bed bugs, cockroaches and black-widow spiders to ticks, fleas, scorpions and kissing bugs. “The museum is an incredible wealth of information. Kimsey, unselfish with her time, shares her expertise at workshops and seminars, including the California Center for Urban Horticulture,” her nominators said.
Got an Insect Question? For two decades, the department has asked on its website “Got an Insect Question? Ask It Here!” Kimsey is the key person who answers them. She is widely considered as the most accomplished faculty member in understanding the general knowledge of insects, according to Entomological Society of America fellow Robert Washino, emeritus professor and former chair of the department. Kimsey is not only the go-to entomologist to answer questions about insects on the UC Davis campus and beyond, but is a primary go-to person for the news media. The Los Angeles Times, New York Times, BBC, and Associated Press, among others, seek her out. “Her interviews are always informative, educational and animated,” her nominators said.
Teaching: Kimsey is described as “enthusiastic about teaching and highly responsive to students' questions and needs.” She is one of the innovators of One-Minute Entomology, at which students researched and developed one-minute videos on an important insect or arthropod. Her students say she makes entomology both fun and educational and that her sense of humor is contagious.
NASA SPLAT—She was the only entomologist selected for the NASA SPLAT/Boeing team to research how to decrease bug splats on aircraft and thus increase fuel efficiency in commercial jets. NASA engineers developed four different surface treatments designed to repel bugs and Boeing developed wing modifications to test an aircraft at Shreveport, La. A Boeing EcoDemonstrator 575 took flight, reaching an altitude of 5000 feet to maximize bug splats. The panels generated 100 and 500 splats each. Kimsey identified all the insects and found that a relatively small number of species caused the bulk of the splats. They included flower flies, aphids, thrips, muscid flies, midges, mosquitoes and love bugs. “Her work is a great public service to NASA, the airline industry and worldwide passengers who depend on air travel,” her nominators said.
FBI Assist: In a highly publicized, first-of-its-kind criminal case, Kimsey identified the bugs on the radiator and air filter of a new rental car involved in a major murder case. The murder suspect was found guilty of driving the car from Ohio to California, killing his family, and driving back to Ohio. His defense included that he had not driven out of Ohio during that time frame. Kimsey's knowledge and identification of insects proved that some of the bugs on the car are found only in California and/or west of the Rockies. Kimsey testified at the trial in a case that made entomological history: this was the first time someone has used insect identification to prove where a car has or has not been
Bee Garden: As interim chair of the department, Kimsey coordinated the development and installation of the bee garden on Bee Biology Road that was named one of the top 10 garden destinations by the Sacramento Bee. Through her connections, she also obtained the services of a Boy Scout troop to install a fence around the half- acre garden. As a result, the garden (primarily funded by Häagen-Dazs), became a showpiece for the department and is a key educational effort illustrating the importance of honey bees and other pollinators.
Lynn and her husband Robert "Bob" Kimsey, a forensic entomologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, have two adult children. Neither is an entomologist--one is into computers, the other into firefighting and fire science.
You can bet, though, they were thoroughly exposed to all things insects. And still are.
Mosquitoes have their place.
Fossil records confirm that mosquitoes existed at least 200 million years ago. Today we know that they are responsible for such diseases as malaria, yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, West Nile and Zika. Globally, millions die of mosquito-borne diseases annually.
On the good side--if you can call it the good side--mosquitoes are part of the food chain for some critters. Fish and reptiles, for example, eat mosquito larvae. Birds, bats, dragonflies, damselflies, spiders and other critters eat adult mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes, including the malaria mosquito (Anopheles gambiae) and the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) feed on us.
Mosquitoes have their place.
They also have their place in the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. In the Bohart gift shop, you can buy insect-themed t-shirts, posters, books and candy. You can buy insect nets, jewelry and stuffed toy animals. Stuffed toy animals? Think educational toys: lice, tardigrades and mosquitoes.
The text with the Culex mosquito is informative: "There are about 3000 species of mosquito, but Culex pipiens is the most common. It is found almost all over the world, except in Antarctica. Spanish for 'little fly,' mosquitoes beat their wings between 300 and 600 times per second. The unnerving sound they create differs from species to species,and listening for the right note helps males and female mosquitoes coordinate their social lives to find suitable mates."
The educational text goes on to say that "wearing long pants and shirts, particularly at dawn and dusk, can help avoid bites in the first place. Mosquitoes are extremely attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale, and they can detect it up to 75 feet away--so you can also try holding your breath!"
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis, says the stuffed animal mosquitoes were made by a company in Delaware: Giantmicrobes Inc.
We can see children (future entomologists?) collecting a Culex and placing it next to their teddy bear. Or a teacher using it in her classroom. Or a medical entomologist or entomology student gifted with one.
The Bohart Museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens (including mosquitoes) but a little known fact is that the gift shop is home to some skeeters, too.
Shades of Shirley Temple, maybe?
A curly haired tarantula at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis could have been named for...drum roll..Shirley Temple.
The curly haired tarantula, or Brachypelma albopilosum, proved a big hit at the Bohart Museum on Saturday, Feb. 13 during the campuswide UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. Graduate student Ziad Khouri, who is studying for his doctorate with Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis, intrigued visitors with the spider.
It's native to Costa Rica and Honduras. And like other members of Brachypelma, it's a CITES listed species. That means it's on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and under international restrictions for quotas and trade permits.
Khouri noted that in the past, it was overharvested for the pet trade, although the current availability of captive bred specimens has decreased pressure on wild populations. Nevertheless, habitat loss and destruction continue to threaten he curly hair tarantula and many other species.
Tarantulas were in the news this week when scientists revealed that they named a newly discovered tarantula found on the Folsom Prison grounds after singer/songwriter Johnny Cash, the legendary "Man in Black." Its scientific name? "Aphonopelma johnnycashi."
The announcement was part of a newly released study by biologists Chris Hamilton and Jason Bond of Auburn University and Brent Hendrixson of Millsaps College involving nearly 3,000 tarantulas from across the American Southwest. Fellow scientists describe their 340-page study as "unequivocally the most important work on tarantulas ever done."
That brings to mind the Johnny Cash song, "Folsom Prison Blues" in which he lamented "I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when."
Wonder if "The Man in Black" ever saw "The Critter in Black," now his namesake Aphonopelma johnnycashi.
The University of California, Davis is preparing for its fifth annual Biodiversity Museum Day.
Set from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, it's a campuswide open house showcasing 11 specialized research and teaching collections. It's free and open to the public.
New to the Biodiversity Day are the Nematode Collection, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, California Raptor Center, Phaff Yeast Culture Collection and the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden.
They will join the Center for Plant Diversity, Botanical Conservatory, Paleontology Collections, Anthropology Collection, Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, and the Bohart Museum of Entomology for a day of science exploration.
Biodiversity Museum Day is billed as a special day for the public to go behind the scenes to learn how scientists conduct research; gain first-hand educational experience; and see some of the curators' favorite pieces, including the history of the collection or the organism.
Parking is free. Visitors are encouraged to stroll or bike around the UC Davis campus to visit these diverse collections. They can explore displays, talk to scientists and students, and participate in family-friendly activities. This year students interested in applying or transferring to UC Davis are especially encouraged to visit.
All participating museums and collections have active education and outreach programs, but the collections are not always accessible to the public. For a full-day experience, the Biodiversity Museum Day has scheduled staggered hours:
- Anthropology Collections, Young Hall, open noon to 4 p.m.
- Arboretum, Headquarters along LaRue Road, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Academic Surge Building, open noon to 4 p.m.
- Botanical Conservatory, greenhouses along Klieber Hall Drive, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- California Raptor Center, Old Davis Road, open 9 a.m. to noon
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Lab Building, open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road, open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Academic Surge Building, open noon to 4 p.m.
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Lab Building, open 1 to 4 p.m.
- Paleontology Collections, Earth and Physical Sciences Building, open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building, open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Most of the collections are located indoors. In the event of rain, alternative locations are planned for the outdoor sites. Maps, signs and guides will be available at all the collections, online, and on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, @BioDivDay.
For further information about the event, contact Ernesto Sandoval, director of the Botanical Conservatory, at email@example.com or (530) 752-0569.
Well, if you're the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, you do it with a family craft activity--inflating a balloon inside a balloon to get a "parasitoid" balloon.
Graduate student Charlotte Herbert, who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis, staffed the "balloon station" at the Bohart Museum's "Parasitoid Palooza II" open house.
Adi Fry, 7, and her brother, Ethan Fry, 5, of Davis, were among those who learned about parasitoids as they inflated the double balloons.
"An insect parasitoid is a species whose immatures live off of an insect host, often eating it from the inside out," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. "It is part of their life cycle and the host generally dies. This sounds like a weird way to make a living, but there are more species of parasitoids than there are insects with any other kind of life history.” An example is a conopid fly that lays its eggs inside a bumble bee.
On the other hand, an insect parasite is a species that feeds on living animal tissue as external or internal parasites of any stage of another organism, according to Kimsey. This is part of their life cycle and the host typically does not die. An example is a flea feeding on a dog.
Rosemary Malfi, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Neal Williams, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, discussed conopid flies, also called thick-headed flies, which lay their eggs in some bees, wasps and ants. Malfi did extensive work on the interaction between conopid flies and bumblebee hosts. Some 800 known species of conopids are found throughout the world.
Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon discussed jewel wasps, Pteromalidae, a worldwide family of wasps with some 3,450 described species. Many are biological control agents.
The next open house at the Bohart Museum will be part of the fifth annual Biodiversity Museum Day, a campuswide open house scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. The "Super Sciene Day" will showcase 11 specialized research and teaching collections. It is free and open to the public.
New to the Biodiversity Day are the Nematode Collection, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, California Raptor Center, Phaff Yeast Culture Collection and the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. They will join the Center for Plant Diversity, Botanical Conservatory, Paleontology Collections, Anthropology Collection, Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, and the Bohart Museum of Entomology for a day of science exploration.
The Bohart Museum, named for noted entomologist Richard Bohart, houses nearly eight million insect specimens, along with a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and a rose-haired tarantula named "Peaches") and a year-around gift shop. It is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. The Bohart hosts open houses on specific weekends throughout the academic year, but it is also open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays.