Ecologist Louie Yang, associate professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is the recipient of a major academic advising award.
NACADA, also known as the Global Community for Academic Advising, singled him out as the winner of the Faculty Advisor Award of Excellence in Pacific Region 9, comprised of California, Nevada and Hawaii.
Yang will be honored at the Pacific Region 9 meeting set for March 21-23 in Santa Rosa. NCADA promotes students' success by advancing the field of academic advising globally.
"Dr. Yang excels in fostering creative and critical thinking, challenging his students to succeed by linking their academic studies to research and other career goals," said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomolgy and Nematology. "His mentees not only include undergraduate and graduate students, but high school students and postdoctoral scholars and beyond. He attends to the unique needs and interests of each student, respecting their perspectives and ideas. Mentorship, he finds, is really about helping students identify the questions that they want to ask. His success is their success."
An important part of his advising is his work in the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology (RSPIB), a campuswide program co-founded by Jay Rosenheim, Joanna Chiu and Yang. Aware that some of the most important skills for research biologists cannot be taught in big lecture halls or even in lab courses, they set out to help students learn cutting-edge research through close mentoring relationships with faculty. The program crosses numerous biological fields, including population biology; behavior and ecology; biodiversity and evolutionary ecology; agroecology; genetics and molecular biology; biochemistry and physiology; entomology; and cell biology. The 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 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 (Natalie Gonzalez and Jacob Penner) and the UC Davis-Howard University Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Ecology & Evolution Graduate Admissions Pathways (EEGAP) program (Kabian Ritter).
In the past year, Yang mentored 15 undergrads in his lab in studies that included: 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; and the density dependence in larval and adult blue milkweed beetles
Yang, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 2009, teaches Insect Ecology and Field Ecology. He holds a bachelor's degree (ecology and evolution) from Cornell University, 1999 and received his doctorate from UC Davis in 2006. His goals as an advisor are three-fold:
- To be honest to the unique needs and interests of each student. "I aim to assess the advising needs of each student individually, recognizing that these needs can change quickly. I listen and watch, try not to make too many assumptions, and remind myself to expect the unexpected. Science is a human endeavor, and the same diversity of ideas and perspectives that fuels scientific progress means that each scientist needs different advising to succeed. In many cases, I have found that the primary task of mentorship is helping students identify the questions that they want to ask. I seek to respect each student's unique perspective and interests, and to believe what they say."
- To facilitate intellectual independence. "My aim is to help students transition from being consumers of knowledge to becoming producers of knowledge. This transition requires giving students the intellectual freedom to learn from their own decisions. I aim to maintain appropriate humility when I provide advice; when working at the limits of available knowledge, I believe that we usually recognize the best decisions only in hindsight, and the best outcomes often result from a willingness to capitalize on unexpected events. As a research advisor, I am committed to the long-term success of each student, but encourage students to exercise their intellectual courage and curiosity, even at the risk of short-term failures. We develop as scientists by making our own mistakes, and using those mistakes to improve our judgment. I remind myself allow enough gaps in my advising to allow students to learn first from their interactions with nature.
- To learn from his students. "I believe that mentorship should be a two-way street, and I expect my students to develop the knowledge and confidence to teach me things that I don't know. As scientists, we are motivated by learning new things, and this is a model of advising that is intellectually engaging and sustainable over the long-term. More importantly, it gives my students the opportunity to become experts and teachers, and to view themselves as intellectual colleagues and contributors."
Former student Allyson Earl, now a researcher in Guam, credits Yang with shaping her academic career: "I had the pleasure of working under Louie Yang for the last year of my undergraduate degree at UC Davis as one of his research assistants. I watched as he worked tirelessly with several other student assistants in the lab on personal projects focused on our study subjects, Monarch butterflies. His mentorship style in these projects was one that guided students to draw their own conclusions rather than handing them answers, leading them to ask more complex questions and develop themselves as better students and scientists. I can say with confidence, he not only nurtured my desire to study the intricacies of ecology, but also to pursue a career in this field, without his guidance and support I would not be where I am today."
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.
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 graduate students from the Entomology Graduate Group, the Graduate Group in Ecology and the Population Biology Graduate Group. He serves on many guidance, exam and advising committees. He also has participated in mentoring workshops at the Center for Population Biology.
Yang earlier was selected faculty recipient of the 2017 Eleanor and Harry Walker Academic Advising Award from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES).
Sue Ebeler, associate dean of Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, praised 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.
The Associated Students of UC Davis nominated him for an Excellence in Education Award in 2012. He received a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award of $600,000 in 2013.
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the University of California, Davis, and her lab have announced a series of short courses for the new year--and folks can register now and/or purchase gift certificates. All will take place at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis campus, beginning Saturday, March 24, with the last course ending June 16.
The schedule and capsule information:
- Planning Ahead for Your First Hives: Saturday, March 24
- Working Your Colonies: Sunday, March 25
- Queen-Rearing Techniques Short Course: Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22 course; Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29 course
- Bee-Breeding Basics: Saturday, June 9
- Varroa Management Strategies: Saturday, June 16
Planning Ahead for Your First Hives: The short course will include lectures and hands-on exercises. This course is perfect for those who have little or no beekeeping experience and would like to obtain more knowledge and practical skills to move on to the next step of owning and caring for their own honey bee colonies.
Click here for more information
Click here to register for the March 24 class
Working Your Colonies: Get up close and personal with bees. This course is for novice beekeepers who already have a colony and/or have taken the previous course, and want to develop their beekeeping skills further. Instructors will discuss products of the hive, present a lecture on inspecting your colony, and solve problems with your colony. The afternoon will be spent entirely in the apiary with hands-on activities and demonstrations.
Click here for more information
Click here to register for the March 25 class
Queen-Rearing Techniques Short Course: This two-day course will include lectures, hands-on exercises and lots of group discussions. This course is perfect for those who have some beekeeping experience and would like to move on to the next step of rearing their own queens or maybe even trying their luck at bee breeding.
Click here for more information
Click here to register for the April 21-22 course
Click here to register for the April 28-April 29 course
Bee-Breeding Basics: This course is an excellent complement to the Queen Rearing Techniques Short Course. During this one-day course, the instructors will talk about the intricacies of honey bee genetics along with honey bee races and breeder lines. An in-depth discussion of various breeding schemes will take place.
Click here for more information
Click here to register for the June 9 class
Varroa Management Strategies: Current beekeeping challenges call for all beekeepers to have a solid understanding of varroa mite biology and management approaches. The instructors will dive deeper into understanding varroa biology and will devote a majority of the time to discussing pros and cons of various means to monitor, mitigate, and manage this crucial honey bee pest.
Click here for more information
Click here to register for the June 16 class
The Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is located at 1 Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. It is named for former UC Davis professor Harry Hyde Laidlaw Jr., the father of honey bee genetics.
UC Davis bee scientists conduct the California Master Beekeeper Courses and just received a $199,949 grant from the UC Agricultural and Natural Resources 2017 Competitive Grants Program. Elina Niño is the principal investigator. UC ANR is funding 10 projects for a total of $1.7 million over a five-year period. View project summary of California Master Beekeeper Grant/span>
Embargo lifts at 10 a.m., Pacific Time
An inhibitor to the enzyme, soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH), discovered in the Hammock lab, prevented the eye disease in diabetic mice, Fleming said.
The paper, “Inhibition of Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase Prevents Diabetic Retinopathy,” involving six years of research and 22 scientists, is published today (Dec. 6) in the journal Nature.
"This has been a long but exciting project where Dr. Fleming's team used tools developed to study the biology of fatty acid epoxides to probe the fundamental mechanism of diabetic retinopathy,” said co-author Hammock, a distinguished professor of entomology who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center “This work has targeted many possible sites for intervention that could preserve vision, and one such target is using inhibitors of the soluble epoxide hydrolase which block diabetic retinopathy in mice.”
The eye generates a dihydroxy metabolite from polyunsaturated fatty acids that initiates pericyte loss and breakdown of the endothelial barrier function in the eye, the scientists said. This leads to vascular edema and ultimately to a proliferation of new blood vessels and loss of vision.
The small molecule which initiates this process is a diol of a long chain poly unsaturated fatty acid produced by sEH, the researchers said. The enzyme converts an anti-inflammatory epoxy fatty acid into the pro inflammatory and in this case, toxic diol. The research team demonstrated this process and the cellular mechanism involved in diabetic mice and in transgenic mice that over-produce the sEH enzyme.
They were able to block the process by inhibiting the sEH enzyme. The expression of the sEH enzyme also increased with severity of diabetic retinopathy in human patients.
“The expression of the soluble epoxide hydrolase gene was shown to increase in the retinas of human patients with the severity of the disease with non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy,” Hammock said. “Thus, there appears a connection to human medicine.”
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of adult blindness. Chronically high blood sugar from diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels in the retina, leading to diabetic retinopathy, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health. The blood vessels can leak fluid or hemorrhage, distorting vision. NEI officials predict that the number of Americans with diabetic retinopathy will nearly double from 7.7 million in 2010 to 14.5 million by 2050.
Fleming said the sEH enzyme generates a toxic metabolite, but when the enzyme is inhibited, eye disease is prevented.
Earlier work reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from the Kip Connor laboratory at Harvard University showed that inhibiting the soluble epoxide hydrolase preserves fatty acid epoxides which reduce the late or proliferative stages of diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Now the Fleming team used the same soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitors to block production of a pro inflammatory mediator that initiates the early stages of vascular permeability and inflammation of the retina.
Connor, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, praised the work as bringing to light ”a previously unknown mechanism of action.” Said Connor: “The identification by the laboratories of Drs. Fleming and Dr. Hammock that 19,20-dihydroxydocosapentaenoic acid, a product of soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) activity, as a key regulator of pericyte loss and endothelial barrier breakdown has brought to light a previously unknown mechanism of action in the induction of diabetic retinopathy. Moreover, the authors clearly show that inhibition of sEH blocks formation of this degenerative lipid metabolite thereby halting disease progression, which is of vital interest for the potential management of this blinding disease.
Mehran Moghaddam and David Grant, then with the Hammock lab, demonstrated that the diol of the fatty acid linoleate produced by the soluble epoxide hydrolase was highly toxic to cells leading to vascular permeability and sepsis. They published their work in 1997 in Nature Medicine.
"It is interesting how discoveries of years ago resurface as a critical lead in another disease indication,” commented Moghaddam. “It certainly seems hopeful we will be able to treat blindness resulting from severe diabetes."
The Hammock laboratory has published almost 900 peer-reviewed papers on the sEH enzyme, discovered while Hammock and Sarjeet Gill (now of UC Riverside) were researching insect developmental biology and green insecticides at UC Berkeley. The work, begun in 1969, led to the discovery that many regulatory molecules are controlled as much by degradation as by biosynthesis, Hammock said. These epoxy fatty acid chemical mediators control blood pressure, fibrosis, immunity, tissue growth, pain and inflammation to name a few processes, and now Fleming's team has shown the diols products from these epoxides can cause diabetic retinopathy.
For many years Gill and Hammock were alone in studying this enzyme but today its importance is well recognized in mammalian biology, with more than 17,000 peer-reviewed papers in the area. Hammock credits the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for supporting research in this area since the 1970s.
A Davis-based company, EicOsis, has received a large grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to move inhibitors to the clinic to treat diabetic neuropathic pain. “We are developing a non opiate analgesic to treat the chronic pain often associated with diabetes,” said William Schmidt, vice president of clinical development at EicOsis. "It would be wonderful if the came drug also could be used to prevent the blindness driven by diabetes.
Bruce Hammock at email@example.com
Ingrid Fleming at Fleming@vrc.uni-frankfurt.de
His abstract: "His abstract: "Plant infections by root-knot nematodes and the soil-borne fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum, which causes vascular wilt, either alone or in disease complexes, result in serious crop losses. Our analyses of host resistance in cowpea and cotton genomes has revealed a rich resource of resistance factors to both pathogens, which are being used in breeding programs for crop improvement."
Of his research, Roberts says: "My research focuses on the integrated management of plant parasitic nematodes. A major emphasis is placed on the identification, characterization, and development of host plant resistance to root-knot nematodes for genetic improvement of crops. Current work includes studies of resistance gene inheritance, development of gene markers, genome mapping, and gene transfer."
He organizes his research on the genetic resistance and associated traits in crop plants to root-knot nematodes in the areas of:
- identifying new sources of resistance genes;
- nature, inheritance and molecular characterization of resistance genes;
- introgressing resistance for breeding line and crop improvement for warm/arid environments using classical and novel techniques;
- assessing and implementing resistant and tolerant lines and cultivars in the field in appropriate cropping systems; and
- studying variability of parasitic specificity within and between nematode species
Host is Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. This is the department's last seminar of the fall quarter.
Sarah Silverman, a doctoral candidate who is studying insect demography at UC Davis with major professor James R. Carey, won a second-place award in her category.
Boudinot, who studies classification and evolution of morphology, delivered a 10-minute oral presentation in the Systematics, Evolution and Biodiversity Section on "The Protopodal Theory of Genitalic Evolution in the Hexapoda (Arthropoda: Mandibulata: Pancrustacea)."
Boudinot completed his undergraduate work at the Evergreen State College, Olympia, Wash., and spent a year working as a research technician at the University of Utah before starting his graduate work in 2014 with advisor Phil Ward. He focuses his research on evolution and ecology, approached from the perspective of systematics. “I integrate several lines of inquiry to answer historical evolutionary questions, including morphological and molecular phylogenetics, paleontology, and traditional comparative morphology,” Boudinot related. “I specialize on the skeletomusculature system of the male genitalia of the Hexapoda and the classification of the Formicoidea.”
Silverman gave a 10-minute oral presentation in the Diptera-Mosquitoes category of the Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology Section, on “Population as Cohort: Interpreting the Mortality Patterns of Wild-Caught Adult Mosquitoes of Unknown Ages.”
Silverman completed her bachelor's degree in environmental science at McGill University in Montreal. For her undergraduate thesis, she studied the phenology of wild Osmia bees. Her work at UC Davis is in the field of insect demography. “I specifically study insect lifespan in the wild, as well as the the age-structure of insect populations in the wild using an innovative methodological approach: the capture of live-insects in the wild which are then maintained and observed in the lab until death,” she said.
At its annual meetings, the ESA offers graduate students the opportunity to present their research and win coveted prizes. The first-place President's Prize recipient receives a one-year free membership in ESA, a $75 cash prize, and a certificate. The second-place winner receives a one-year free membership in ESA and a certificate.
The oral presentations are evaluated on scientific content (50 percent) and presentation (50 percent). For scientific content, judges score them on introduction and background with pertinent literature cited; objectives clearly stated and concise; materials and methods (study design) clear and concise; results and discussion clear, concise and accurate; and significance of results to field of study. Judges evaluation the presentation on organization, slides and delivery.
Boudinot's previous President's Prizes were for work on the male genitalia of ants, and for providing the first male-based identification material for the ant genera of the New World.
Ants are highly diverse, with over 13,000 known species, Boudinot said. "They are, however, but one stitch in the diversity of all insects, and we are entering a new era for the study of morphology in the 21st century."
The genitalia of male insects are fascinating, he said. "Both male and female insect genitalia are derived from the appendages of a pair of abdominal segments. Evidence from the skeletomusculature indicates that these structures are really legs of a crustacean ancestor that have been modified for numerous reproductive tasks--from copulation and insemination, to singing and silk-spinning."