The ecologist, an associate professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, has been named the faculty recipient of the 2017 Eleanor and Harry Walker Academic Advising Award from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES).
The award will be presented at the college's Celebration of Advising Reception, set from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 2 in the Robert Mondavi Institute Sensory Theater, Old Davis Road. Also honored will be student advisor Emma Martinez of the Student Affairs Officer, Animal Science.
The committee was especially impressed with Yang's focus on student diversity, his efforts in helping students link their academic studies to research and other career goals, and his innovative programs working with high school students and connecting these students with undergraduate and graduate student mentors, said Sue Ebeler, the CA&ES associate dean of Undergraduate Academic Programs.
“His tremendous contributions in advising students seeking to expand their research experience, and programmatic development to enhance such opportunities have helped change the face of undergraduate education in our department,” wrote nominator Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Nadler described him as a gifted teacher, mentor and scientist who has been instrumental in influencing the lives of many undergraduates.
Yang, who holds a bachelor's degree (ecology and evolution) from Cornell University, 1999, received his doctorate from UC Davis in 2006, and joined the UC Davis faculty in 2009. He is one of the three co-founders of the campuswide Research Scholars in Insect Biology (RSPIB) with professors Jay Rosenheim and Joanna Chiu. The program's goal: to provide academically strong and highly motivated undergraduates with a multi-year research experience that cultivates skills that will prepare them for a career in biological research.
In addition to his RSPIB mentoring, Yang mentors many undergraduates in his lab. He has welcomed and mentored students from UC Davis and from around the country with the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program and the UC Davis-Howard University Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Ecology & Evolution Graduate Admissions Pathways (EEGAP) program (Kabian Ritter).
Over the past year, Yang mentored 15 undergrads in his lab. The studies involved:
- The nonconsumptive effects on monarch development to see if parasitoid avoidance behaviors in early development have a long-term cost for monarch development.
- the factors that contribute to herbivory by generalist herbivores on milkweed.
- the effects of a recently observed plant foliar fungal pathogen on milkweed on monarch growth and development.
- the costs of switching milkweed species for monarch larvae.
- The density dependence in larval and adult blue milkweed beetles
- the fractionation of H and O isotopes from water to milkweeds to monarchs, using three species of native California milkweeds reared with water from two distinct isotopic sources
Yang also launched the Monitoring Milkweed-Monarch Interactions for Learning and Conservation (MMMILC) Project in 2013 for high school students in the environmental science program at Davis Senior High School or those associated with the Center for Land-Based Learning's GreenCorps program. They monitor milkweed-monarch interactions in a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Yang and UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students serve as mentors.
“The goal of the MMMILC Project is to better understand the ecology of milkweeds and monarch butterflies,” Yang explains on his website. “We are particularly focused on understanding the role of seasonal timing (phenology) on the interactions between milkweeds and monarchs…While this project is centered around milkweed-monarch interactions, we are really interested in all of the creatures that interact with milkweed. The ecological community of surrounding milkweeds includes lots of fascinating species interactions, and we are interested in understanding how those interactions are connected over time.”
MMMILC accomplishments include weekly measurements on 318 plants for eight months/year; approximately 89 participants spent 24,000 field minutes; about 30,000 plant and 1100 monarch measurements; and weekly data quality checks and internal cross-validation.
Yang strongly supports student diversity, under-represented groups, and graduate education. Two of his undergrads, including one Latina, were supported by a supplemental Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). He has mentored grad students from the Entomology Grad Group, the Grad Group in Ecology and the Pop Bio Grad Group. In addition, he serves on many guidance, exam and advising committees and has participated in mentoring workshops at the Center for Population Biology.
Yang was nominated by the Associated Students of UC Davis in 2012 for an Excellence in Education Award. In 2013, he received a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award of $600,000
If you want to know more about circadian timing and why "circadian timing is everything"--from human beings to fruit flies--don't miss the Science Café session on Wednesday night, March 8 at Davis.
Molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu, vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will speak on "Circadian Timing Is Everything: From a Good Night's Sleep to Minimizing Insecticide Use" at the Science Café session at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 8 in the G St. Wunderbar, 28 G St., Davis.
Professor Jared Shaw of the UC Davis Division of Math and Physical Science is hosting the informal session. Free and open to all interested persons, it is sponsored by the Capital Science Communicators and the UC Davis Department of Chemistry. Science Café events take place in casual settings and aim to feature an engaging conversation with a scientist about a particular topic.
Chiu, an associate professor who specializes in molecular genetics of animal behavior, joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty in June 2010. She received her doctorate in molecular genetics from the Department of Biology at New York University.
"All living things on our planet, from bacteria to humans, organize their daily activities around the perpetuating 24-hour day-night cycles, the result of earth rotating on its own axis and orbiting around the sun," Chiu says. "In order for organisms to anticipate predictable variations in their environment that naturally occurs over the 24-hour cycle and coordinate their physiology and behavior to perform at their best, they rely on an internal biological clock. At the science cafe presentation, I will discuss how this internal clock, termed the circadian clock, affects many important aspects of our lives, including the timing of when we feel tired and want to go to bed, the time-of-day our immune systems are most susceptible to pathogen attack, and even when medicines should be taken to give you 'the most bang for your buck.'" In addition, I will discuss the consequences of when the circadian clock is 'broken' or 'off-kilter' because of diseases, work-schedule, jetlag, and light pollution."
Back in 2011, Chiu and colleagues from Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, published their work on the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, describing how they identified a new mechanism that slows down or speeds up the internal clock of fruit flies. That research, published in the journal Cell, has important implications: it could lead to discoveries on alleviating human sleep disorders.
By mutating one amino acid in a single protein, “we changed the speed of the internal clock and flies now ‘think' it is 16 hours a day instead of 24 hours a day,” Chiu explained in a 2011 interview. “Our goal, of course, is not to trick flies into thinking the day is shorter or longer, but to dissect this complex phospho-circuit (phosphorylation sites) that controls clock speed in metazoans.”
“Living organisms—plants, animals and even bacteria—have an internal clock or timer that helps them to determine the time of day," she said in that 2011 interview. "This internal clock is vital to their survival since it allows them to synchronize their activity to the natural environment, so that they can perform necessary tasks at biologically advantageous times of day.”
“A functional clock is required to generate proper circadian rhythms of physiology and behavior including the sleep-wake cycle, daily hormonal variations and mating rhythms,” Chiu said. “Based on genetics, molecular biology and biochemical experiments performed in many different model organisms, we know that the speed of the internal clock is controlled by a core set of circadian proteins."
So if you aren't getting that good night's sleep and you're wondering about that internal clock, be sure to head over to the G St. Wunderbar on March 8. You'll learn the connection between circadian timings and minimizing insecticide use, too.
If you're a graduate student engaged in pollinator-related research at a California university, it might pay to present your research poster at the third annual UC Davis Bee Symposium, set Sunday, May 7 in the UC Davis Conference Center.
Not only will you get to showcase your research, but you might share in the $2500 in cash awarded to the winners: first place, $1000; second place, $750; third, $500; and fourth, $250.
The poster competition is part of the all-day informational symposium, themed "Keeping Bees Healthy," sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, said participants in the research poster competition must register by April 10 (see submission form at http://honey.ucdavis.edu/events/copy_of_GraduatestudentposterSubmission2017.pdf and be present to defend their work before a panel of judges. They will receive complementary registration.
Last year UC Berkeley graduate students Sara Winsemius and Laura Ward won the poster competition with their research on "Exploring Potential Route of Neonicotinoid Exposure within Pollinator Hedgerows Adjacent to Seed-Treated Sunflower."
Other 2016 winners were:
- Second place of $750 went to UC Davis graduate student W. Cameron Jasper for his poster, "Investigating Potential Synergistic Effects of Chronic Exposure to Amitraz and Multiple Pesticides on Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Survivorship."
- Third place of $500 went to UC Davis graduate student Britney Goodrich for her poster on "Honey Bee Health: Economic Implications for Beekeepers in Almond Pollination."
- Fourth place of $250 went to UC Davis graduate student John Mola for his poster on "Fine Scale Population Genetics and Movement Ecology of the Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenkii).
Judges were a trio of entomologists: Dennis vanEnglesdorp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, College Park; Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis; and Quinn McFrederick, assistant professor of entomology, UC Riverside.
General registration for the 2017 Bee Symposium begins Wednesday, March 1 at http://honey.ucdavis.edu/events/2017-bee-symposium. Open to all interested persons, the symposium is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees. The event will include speakers, displays of graduate student research posters, the latest in beekeeping equipment, books, honey, plants, "and much more," Harris said.
This year's keynote speaker is Steve Sheppard, Thurber Professor of Apiculture and chair of the Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. Sheppard specializes in population genetics and evolution of honey bees, insect introductions and mechanisms of genetic differentiation. He also heads the Apis Molecular Systematics Laboratory.
Among the other speakers:
- Santiago Ramirez of the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology;
- Extension apiculturist Elina Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology;
- Maj Rundlöf of the Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden, and
- Margaret Lombard, National Honey Board, based in Firestone, Colo.
The day before the symposium--Saturday, May 6--is the inaugural California Honey Festival in downtown Woodland. Coordinated by the Honey and Pollination Center and is free and open to the public.
For more information on the events, contact Amina Harris at email@example.com or (530) 754-9301.
And Amina Harris would love it if you're interested in participating in this event or volunteering.
Harris directs the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, which is sponsoring the inaugural California Honey Festival on Saturday, May 6 in downtown Woodland. It's free and open to the public.
The event, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. , will stretch four blocks on Main Street and side streets. It promises to be both educational and entertaining. Think honey. Think mead. Think bees. Think beekeeping. Think live music (along with the live bees.) Think fun.
The many booths will include six from UC Davis: Department of Entomology and Nematology; Bohart Museum of Entomology; the department's bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven; Art-Science Fusion Program; graduate students (research posters); and the California Master Beekeeper Program, managed by the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis.
“The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping through this unique educational platform, to the broader public,” said Harris. “The scope of the event includes a culinary stage, a garden stage, a speakers' forum in the Woodland Opera House, kids' zone, live entertainment and loads of vendors and food. In addition, restaurants in Woodland will have honey centric menus and drinks enhanced with honey. Mead anyone? We have a Mead Speakeasy with five meaderies already signed up.”
National sponsors include the National Honey Board, the American Beekeeping Federation.
Margaret Lombard, chief executive officer of the National Honey Board, based in Firestone, Colo., will be among those speaking on the Beekeeper Stage, one of five stages at the festival.
Among the other speakers:
- Billy Synk, director of Pollination Programs for Project Apis m., Paso Robles, and former manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility;
- Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Vicki Wojcik, research director of Pollinator Partnership, San Francisco
- Gene Brandi of Gene Brandi Apiaries, Los Banos (he is active in the California State Beekeepers' Association, the American Beekeeping Federation and the National Honey Board)
On the culinary stage will be Marie Simmons of Eugene, Ore., an award-winning cookbook author, food writer and story teller; Frank Golbeck, CEO of Golden Coast Mead, San Diego; Toby Barajas, executive chef at Savory Café on Main Street, Woodland; and Casey Willard, executive chef for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Capay Valley.
Sharing the Gardening Stage will be Ellen Zagory, director of horticulture; UC Davis Arboretum; and Chris Casey, program representative for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, located on Bee Biology Road.
Among the entertainers, as of Feb. 24: Mike Blanchard and the Californios, City of Trees Brass Band, Boca do Rio, Joe Craven and the Sometimers, Jared Johnson, Hannah Mayree, and the Gold Souls.
Education platforms will feature the Honey Flavor and Aroma Wheel, a project of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center; a bee demonstration hive; and posters on pollinators (do you know who your pollinators are and where they are?), the life cycle of bees, and bee threats, including pesticides, pests and pathogens.
Vendors will include beekeepers, bee clubs, honey packers, beekeeping supplies, crafts people, food vendors, Harris said. She is seeking volunteers to help with the festival; she may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 754-9301. In addition, there's still time to fill out a vendor application form; sign up for educational and entertainment activities, and become a (much-loved) sponsor.
Already the festival is shaping up to be "the place to bee" on Saturday, May 6. And the next day--Sunday, May 7--is the third annual UC Davis Bee Symposium at the UC Davis Conference Center. It's about "Keeping Bees Healthy." (See website.)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, greeted a visitor on Feb. 14 in his office in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
This visitor didn't talk, though. She buzzed.
And she buzzed right over to his window.
Well, hello, black-tailed bumble bee, Bombus melanopygus!
"Guess all one needs to do is sit and wait," he wrote in an email to bumble bee enthusiasts. "Eventually a gyne will find her way into one's office. This one was buzzing against my window just a few minutes ago trying to get back outside."
She came to the right place.
Thorp, a noted expert on bumble bees, is the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalist (Heyday). He also teaches at The Bee Course, an annual workshop hosted by the American Museum of Natural History at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz. (The Bee Course is meant for "conservation biologists, pollination ecologists and other biologists who want to gain greater knowledge of the systematics and biology of bees," according to the website. This year's course is Aug. 21-31.)
The black-tailed bumble bee, native to North America, is one of only 250 species worldwide in the genus Bombus.
What's next with Thorp's bumble bee?
A nest box in an almond tree near the Laidlaw facility--feed her some honey, make her feel at home, "then let her fly out, hopefully to return and establish a nest."
Insect photographer and naturalist Allan Jones of Davis discovered and photographed three Bombus melanopygus foraging on manzanita on Jan. 27 in the UC Davis Arboretum. In doing so, he won the science-based, friendly competition among a small group of bumble bee enthusiasts in Yolo and Solano counties searching for the first bumble bee of the year.
But Allan Jones went looking for his bumble bee; Thorp's bumble bee came to him...