It will be Sept. 5-8 at the University of California, Davis, when the Western Apicultural Society (WAS) will gather for its 40th annual conference.
Most events will take place in the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) and surrounding facilities associated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, said Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen who is serving his sixth term as president of the organization, which was founded at UC Davis.
Bee scientists and beekeepers will be among the speakers. It's a conference filled with educational topics, networking, field trips, a silent auction and door prizes, said Mussen, who retired in 2004 after 38 years of service. He continues to maintain an office in Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Professor Norm Gary, now professor emeritus of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, spearheaded the founding of WAS and served as its first president. Mussen joined him as the founding vice president and Becky Westerdahl as secretary-treasurer. Westerdahl, then a postdoctoral scholar, is now an Extension nematologist. Both Gary and Mussen will be
There's still time to register, Mussen said. The WAS conference is open to all interested persons; registration is underway at http://www.westernapiculturalsociety.org/2017-conference-registration/
The schedule includes:
- “Seasonal Honey Bee Colony Population Cycle” – Gene Brandi, Los Banos, Calif.
- "Moderated Honey Tasting” – Amina Harris, director, UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center
- "Keeping Your Bees Alive and Growing” Larry Connor, Kalamazoo, Mich.
- "Rapidly Changing Bee Scene” – Bee Culture magazine editor Kim Flottum, Medina, Ohio
- "Honey Bee Queens or Varroa Control" – Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- "Honey Bee Behavior or Distribution of Africanized Honey Bees in California" – Brian Johnson, faculty, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- “Beneficial Microbes for Honey Bees at the Intersection of Nutrition and Defense – Slava Strogolov, Milwaukee, Wisc.
- "Pesticide Toxicity Testing with Adult and Immature Honey Bees” with Eric Mussen, moderator
- "Changes in Nectar Affecting Foraging” – Rachel Vannette, faculty, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Conference participants will tour the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, Häagen Dazs Honey Bee Haven (half-acre bee friendly garden), both part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Mann Lake Ltd., and Z Specialty Foods, both of Woodland.
Of special interest are the subgroup tours on Thursday, Sept. 7 that cycle through the Laidlaw facility, aka "Bee Biology Faciilty," and the nearby bee garden:
- Various beehive iterations – Bernardo Niño, staff, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Determining levels of Nosema or Varroa infestation – Randy Oliver, Grass Valley, Calif.
- Studying native bee foraging in screen houses – Neal Williams, faculty,UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and his team
- Studying plant flower selection in open field plots south of bee garden, Neal Williams and his team, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Preparing honey bees for molecular Africanized Honey Bees studies or behavioral studies – Brian Johnson, faculty, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Selecting for, and maintaining, a bee garden – Christine Casey, staff, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who manages the Häagen Dazs Honey Bee Haven
Among the other topics: The "Next Generation Beekeepers” session in the Sensory Building, Robert Mondavi Institute, 392 Old Davis Road. This event will include beer, music, networking and an interactive group session.
UC Davis artist Steve Dana created the conference T-shirt featuring a bee on a high wheeler bicycle or penny-farthing, symbolizing UC Davis. The t-shirt can be ordered on the WAS website at http://www.westernapiculturalsociety.org. The conference registration form, speaker program and other information are online.
WAS, a non-profit organization, represents mainly small-scale beekeepers in the western portion of North America, from Alaska and the Yukon to California and Arizona. Beekeepers across North America will gather to hear the latest in science and technology pertaining to their industry and how to keep their bees healthy.
Attardo joined the department July 1 as an assistant professor after 13 years at the Yale University School of Public Health, New Haven, Conn., first as a postdoctoral fellow from 2004 to 2008, and then as associate research scientist and research scientist.
He now shares quarters in 37 Briggs Hall with Elina Lastro Niño, Extension apiculturist. Books on genes, genetics, genetic analysis, chemistry, biology and entomology line his book shelves, and macro images of insects and spiders brighten his walls. His coffee-table book, “Small World: Life Is in the Detail” showcases his passion for macro photography, particularly jumping spiders, dragonflies and praying mantids.
Geoffrey Attardo is eager to begin work. His research interests include the physiology and molecular biology of disease vectors, reproduction, nutrition, symbiosis, genetics, metabolomics, gene regulation, vector/parasite interactions “and any place the data leads me!”
“My lab will focus on aspects of the physiology of tsetse fly reproduction,” Attardo said. “The goal of this research is to identify and understand key aspects of tsetse's reproductive biology.” Tsetse flies, prevalent in much of sub-Saharan Africa, are known for vectoring human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness.
A native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Geoffrey received his bachelor's degree in entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1994 and his doctorate in genetics from Michigan State University, East Lansing, in 2004.
A career in science came naturally. “My parents are both somewhat scientifically inclined, so I may have taken after them,” he says. “My father has a doctorate in metallurgy from Columbia University and led a long successful career at IBM. My mom was a full-time mom, but has a background in microbiology with a master's degree from Yale.”
“I decided to develop my career in science and went to work in Dr. Alexander Raikhel's lab at Michigan State University as a graduate student. I was always drawn to understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the extreme biology of insects and Dr. Raikhel's lab provided that opportunity. There I focused on the molecular biology of egg development in mosquitoes.”
In research on mosquitoes, Attardo demonstrated that mosquitoes require nutritional cues to begin egg development. “Egg development had been known to be regulated by a steroid hormone called 20-hydroxyecdysone,” Attardo explained. “However, treatment of mosquitoes with this hormone along did not activate egg development. My research showed that when female mosquitoes take blood, the protein in the blood is broken down into amino acids which in combination with the hormone activate egg development. Either amino acids or the hormone along were not capable of activating this process, but when they are combined it unlocks a massive physiological change which causes the production of yolk proteins and activation of egg development.”
After receiving his doctorate, Attardo joined the Yale lab of Serap Aksoy to work on tsetse flies. “In terms of fascinating physiological adaptations, the tsetse fly is one of the champions of the insect world!” Attardo says. “In addition to being vectors of a deadly disease, Trypanosomiasis, these flies have undergone amazing alterations to their physiology relative to other insects. Some examples of this are their ability feed exclusively on blood, their obligate relationship with a bacterial symbiont, the fact that they lactate and that they give birth to fully developed larval offspring. The opportunity to study the adaptations these flies have made is like opening a toy chest for an insect physiologist. My work in tsetse has focused on the molecular biology underlying the adaptations associated with the development of lactation, symbiosis, male and female mating interactions/physiology and nutrient metabolism and mobilization.”
His tsetse research also includes identifying the tsetse milk proteins and the genes that code for them. Said Attardo: “They are really interesting as they are functionally very similar to milk proteins in mammals!”
In newly published research (June) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, he and his colleagues examined the relationship between the fly and its obligate symbiotic bacteria called Wigglesworthia. “Tsetse flies without their symbionts are unable to reproduce and abort their larvae before the complete development,” he says. “We showed that the bacteria supplements the flies diet with B vitamins and that the fly appears to scavenge nucleotides (the component molecules of DNA and RNA) made by the bacteria. The B-vitamins made by the bacteria enable the fly to metabolize nucleotides, sugars, amino acids and produce chemicals essential for its overall metabolism.”
Attardo traces his interest in insects and macro photography to his childhood. “I had always been fascinated with insects, but my earliest memory was feeding insects to a beautiful black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) that had set up her web in front of the bay window of our house. I was especially interested in spiders. Another early memory was being sick in bed with the croup and reading--and rereading multiple times--through a picture book I had on spiders that had amazing macro photos. I found jumping spiders particularly fascinating. From that point on I had been fascinated with seeing insects up close, but it was not until I was able to afford a good digital camera and the appropriate lenses that I was able to get into insect photography.”
Attardo's first professional camera was a Canon that he received in the mid-1990s.
His first digital? A Canon Rebel XT. He now uses a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with macro lenses, the MPE-65mm and the 100mm.
“I love macro photography because it reveals the amazing details that are present in things that many people take for granted or for mundane,” Attardo says. “Insects especially benefit from macro treatment as I find that most people have no idea about the type of amazing creatures they have living in their yard or even in their house. I'm often asked if my photos were taken in South America, Africa or Asia as the insects appear to be so exotic, however, they are often surprised --and sometimes dismayed--to find out that most of my photos are taken locally.”
The many shapes, sizes and designs of insects fascinate him. “I am a bit of a science fiction geek and I find insects to be almost alien in how different they are from vertebrates. It is like traveling to another planet when you start to magnify the world. I am endlessly fascinated with all the different strategies and adaptations they have developed to survive/thrive in places where many animals couldn't. I think by taking photos of them it allows me to open a window and share my fascination with people who don't normally give much consideration to insects and treat them just as bugs or an annoyance.”
“As a scientist, I have taken my fascination with the magnifying things to the extreme in that my work tends to focus on the molecular biology underlying the physiology of insect adaptations. The molecular adaptations are just as amazing as the morphological ones. However, they are even harder to visualize and explain to lay people. I enjoy illustration and artwork as well, so when it is not possible to take a picture of something I am working on, I try to create a visual representation of it.”
“I also really enjoy digital illustration and have recently gotten into 3D modeling. My first model is a tsetse fly for which I was able to use my macro photos to texture. See (https://sketchfab.com/models/263750e5a9c54c56a77d63ac06f2f317
He and his wife, Meg Gurley and their son, Douglas, 13, are settling into their home in Davis. "Meg is a full-time mom currently," he says, "and a Master Gardener. We have a symbiotic relationship as she grows the plants that attract the insects I like to photograph. Douglas and I are both into computers and computer gaming together."
Future lab plans? Attardo said three undergraduates will join his lab in the fall, helping him to “get the lab set up and running.” He hopes to hire a lab manager, a postdoc and “a couple of graduate students.”
A few of the projects he is excited to pursue:
- Study of lipid metabolism during tsetse pregnancy and the role that symbiotic bacteria play in this process.
- Understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate the expression of genes coding for milk proteins during the lactation cycle.
- Understanding the physiology behind mating effects on female tsetse flies and the role of male seminal secretions on female fertility.
- Comparative genomic analysis of different tsetse species to identify factors associated with vectorial capacity.
- Understanding the nutritional and metabolic impact of trypanosome infection on female tsetse flies and their reproduction.
- Development of new non-invasive detection techniques to measure changing physiological states and determine trypanosome infection in flies using hyperspectral imaging.
Geoffrey Attardo invites “anyone who is interested in meeting me and talking science, photography or anything else to stop by the lab and visit! My door is always open--unless I have a grant due!”
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Science intrigues her, fulfills her, and propels her.
Rand, who is drawing widespread recognition for her work with omega-6 fatty acids as a postdoctoral researcher in Bruce Hammock's biological analytical lab at UC Davis, says science is both “exciting and rewarding.”
“Science and chemistry were my two favorite subjects in school,” said Rand, who was born in Bermuda but grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada. “I had excellent teachers that really fueled my interest. It was their enthusiasm. I remember my eighth grade math teacher leaping up on a table to get her point across about the Pythagorean theorem, and my 11th grade chemistry teacher used memorable metaphors to explain challenging concepts. Both my parents were biologists, and growing up in Eastern Canada we went on many outdoor trips. The combination of motivational teachers and exploring the natural world fueled my interest to continue in science professionally.”
Rand thinks of science “as a way to connect with the world in many ways, by working to understand it better, collaborating with a network of scientists, and communicating science to the public. Science matters because of its diversity: it heals, transforms, innovates, and understands, all of which globally shape our world.”
Rand, who holds a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Mount Allison University, Canada and a doctorate in environmental chemistry at the University of Toronto, joined the Hammock lab in 2013 and was named a fellow on the Oncogenic Signals and Chromosome Biology T32 Training Grant, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.
In the Hammock lab, Rand studies omega-6 fatty acids, or technically, “the regulation of cancer angiogenesis from the metabolism of epoxy omega-6 fatty acids.”
How does Amy Rand explain to the average layperson what she does?
"Amy took on one of the most demanding projects in the laboratory in asking how a group of natural compounds regulate angiogenesis," said Hammock, a distinguished professor of entomology who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.
In April of 2016, Rand drew international accolades when she received a prestigious career development award from the American Association for Cancer Research—the two-year $100,000 Judah Folkman Fellowship for Angiogenesis Research. She won the highly competitive international award for her proposal, “Regulation of Cancer Angiogenesis from the Metabolism of Epoxy Omega-6 Fats.”
Cancer researchers praised her for her potential as a future leader in the field of angiogenesis research.
“We're so proud of her,” said Hammock, who directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Combined Analytical Laboratory.
Hammock and Rand collaborate with Harvard Medical School professor Dipak Panigrahy, former researcher in the Hammock lab and a fellow in the late Professor Judah Folkman's angiogenesis research lab. Folkman, the father of angiogenesis research, is best known for pioneering the concept of blocking angiogenesis or the development of blood vessels, to control cancer growth. "This concept has resulted in a number of anti-cancer drugs and has had a major impact on cancer treatment,” Hammock said. “Of course blood vessel development is also critical for survival."
Looking back, Rand related that her Ph.D research “focused on our exposure to fluorinated commercial materials, their resulting metabolism, and how the metabolites might affect our health. While my Ph.D training was heavily focused on analytical chemistry and metabolic characterization, I wanted more formal training on the biological and biochemical mechanisms associated with disease. I've always been interested in research that combines chemistry and biology to enhance our understanding of human health.”
Rand encourages students to follow their dreams, to pursue what interests them, “if they're able, regardless the subject. I wouldn't be where I am without balancing science with other parts of my life, like performing music during graduate school, which allowed me to come back to the lab with fresh inspiration for next steps. But we need to motivate people, especially minorities, to continue in science, because people from different backgrounds and experiences are necessary for creating a collective mind that does effective scientific research and innovation.”
When she started her postdoctoral research, moving across the continent to Davis, she knew few people. “Within a short time, I fell into a great community of people at the local climbing gym, that have sparked many outdoor adventures - climbing, backpacking, swimming, and skiing - over the past 3 years. Living in Northern California has been a real treat!”
She also has a soft spot for entomology. “Growing up, I used to swim insects to shore if I found them floating far from it - I was alarmed to see them nearly drowning, and did my part to help. That might have been what initiated my future role as lifeguard and swimmer.”
Hammock says his own long-term interest in nature and biology “was fostered by a wonderful scoutmaster who thought kids should be wandering in the woods, and a great biology teacher who provided a microscope to me in high school and said 'go discover.' The move to entomology was further stimulated when I realized that the big cause of human suffering in the world was starvation caused in part by insects eating crops. It was also stimulated by realizing that insect-borne diseases dwarf cancer, heart disease, etc., in terms of human suffering. It is hard to know where science leads.”
As for where science leads, Rand has just accepted a position as assistant professor of organic toxicology in the chemistry department, Carleton University in Ontario. She starts her position Sept. 1.
“We really hate to lose her,” Hammock said, “but we're happy for her; this is a really nice position. And, we'll still be collaborating.”
"I hope we collaborate for the next 80 years or so," he quipped.
The 14th annual Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle that took place on the Briggs Hall lawn, University of California, Davis, amounted to “fifteen minutes of aim” as academics and their families gleefully tossed 2000 balloons in 15 minutes as the temperature soared into the 90s.
When the water warriors depleted their supply, they drenched their fellow warriors with excess water from the buckets and other containers.
Bruce Hammock, UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Comprehensive Cancer Center, managed to drench colleague Aldrin Gomes, associate professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior, in a one-on-one soakfest.
“That was me losing Aldrin's friendship,” Hammock quipped of his four-year friendship. Hammock's office is headquartered on the ground or “garden” level of Briggs, and Gomes, on the first floor.
“Aldrin is one of our UC Davis star scientists,” Hammock said. “He works on heart failure and heart mitochondria. He's a very good guy. He has just been funded as part of the UC Davis Superfund Program (which Hammock directs).”
The water balloon battle usually draws some 50 fun/camaraderie seekers, including professors, researchers, graduate students, staff, students and family members. Hammock lab researcher Christophe Morisseau, who coordinates the traditional event, said participants first fill the water balloons near the Briggs loading dock, or “they BYOB” (bring your own balloons).
The thirsty Briggs Hall lawn benefits as do the fun seekers. The participants pick up the balloon remnants before returning to work.
The international Hammock lab and office includes personnel from Canada, Ukraine, France, China, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Korea, Uruguay and the Netherlands, besides the United States. They are post docs, researchers, graduate students, visiting scholars, visiting graduate students, visiting summer students, short-term visiting scholars and student interns.
Highly honored by his peers (but a target at the annual water balloon battle), Hammock is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, which honors academic invention and encourages translations of inventions to benefit society. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, and the recipient of the Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism, sponsored by the America Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. He directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Combined Analytical Laboratory.
Some 145 people visited the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house last Saturday night between 8 and 11 in celebration of National Moth Week. Most stayed for the entire time, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
Bohart Museum associate Greg Kareofelas and senior museum scientist Steve Heydon set up a blacklighting display: a white sheet and a mercury vapor lighting to attract moths and other flying insects.
“We recorded more than 15 species,” said Kareofelas, who has collected moths in his backyard in Davis for some 25 years. The first moth to arrive was the alfalfa looper moth, Trichopusia ni, and “the most striking,” he said, “was the grape leaffolder, Desmia funeralis.”
Inside the museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, moths and butterflies took center stage. Visitors expressed amazement at the sizes and colors. Bohart associate Jeff Smith of Sacramento, who curates the butterfly and moth specimens, showed the worldwide collection and fielded questions.
Bohart associates and UC Davis students Lohitashwa Garikipati and Emma Cluff, UC Davis students, showed the museum's live petting zoo, which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and walking sticks.
The Bohart visitors gazed at the photo of President Trump and remarked how tiny the moth is. The wingspan of the orange-yellow moth is less than one centimeter.
Nazari published the piece on the Trump moth Jan. 17, 2016 in the journal Zookeys and explained the name: “The reason for this choice of names is to bring wider public attention to the need to continue protecting fragile habitats in the U.S. that still contain many undescribed species."
Three Trump moths were collected in a Malaise trap in one of the washes on the east side of the dunes. In a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Bohart scientists have collected nearly 2,000 species of insects from about 200 square miles of sand, according to Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis. Some six percent are new to science.
Of the Trump moths collected, Nazari kept one in Canada, the norm--but the holotype, the one he determined as the standard for the species--is a permanent part of the Bohart, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
The Neopalpa donaldtrumpi belongs to the family, Gelechiidae of the Lepitoptera order.
The next summer open house, also free and open to the public, is Sunday, Aug. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. the theme is “Bark Beetles and Trees, Forest Health in California." The event is in collaboration with Steve Seybold, USDA Forest Service entomologist and an associate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He and his students and staff will be there to show displays and answer questions.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.