Doctoral candidate and nematologist Corwin Parker of the Steve Nadler lab won the Picnic Day design with his illustration of a bee barbecuing.
And an ant design for a onesie, “My Sister Loves Me,” by doctoral student and ant specialist Jill Oberski of the Ward lab rounds out the winners' circle.
Boudinot, a fourth-year doctoral student and president of EGSA, said the ant featured on his design “is a minor worker of the Drogon ant and described recently by our post-doc Eli Sarnat." Sarnat, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 2009, is now a post-doctorate researcher in the Okinawa Instituite of Science and Technology in the Economo lab. The ant in Boudinot's design is based on Sarnat's work, published in AntWiki and in The Guardian.
Oberski's adult ant is “loosely based on Ochetellus, a mostly-Australian genus.” After admiring an image taken by Alex Wild, also a Phil Ward lab alumnus (doctorate in entomology in 2005) and “I went from there.” Wild, a renowned macro photographer, is the curator of Entomology at the University of Texas/Austin.
The winning T-shirts and other previous winners can be ordered online at https://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad/ and also will be available at Briggs Hall on April 21 at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day and future Picnic Days. Doctoral student and medical entomologist Olivia Winokur of the Chris Barker lab, serves as treasurer of EGSA and t-shirt sales coordinator. She may be reached for more information at email@example.com.
The EGSA is comprised of UC Davis graduate students who study insect systems. Its objectives are to connect students from across disciplines, inform students of and provide opportunities for academic success, and to serve as a bridge between the students and administration. The officers, in addition to Brendon Boudinot, are Emily Bick of the Christian Nansen lab, vice president; Maureen Page of the Neal Williams lab, secretary; Olivia Winokur of the Chris Barker lab, treasurer; and two Graduate Student Association representatives, Charlotte Herbert of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and Nick Booster of the Jay Rosenheim lab.
Bugs at Briggs and the Bohart?
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is gearing up for scores of insect-related activities at Briggs Hall and the Bohart Museum of Entomology for the 104th annual campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day. on Saturday, April 21.
At Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive, activities will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. At the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, the open house is from 10 to 3 p.m.
Coordinating the event at Briggs Hall are forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and doctoral student Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab and president of the Entomology Graduate Students' Association. Heading the activities at the Bohart Museum are director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, and Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
"Entomology at UC Davis" (122 Briggs) has been nominated for a special campus award under the category "At One With Nature." The Honey Tasting booth at Briggs has been nominated for a similar award under the category, “Hunger Fix.” Winners of the categories are determined by an Internet vote. (Access the link here to vote from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for your favorite exhibits on Picnic Day). The winners will be publicized on the Picnic Day website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts after Picnic Day.
The UC Davis Entomology Club, advised by forensic entomology Robert Kimsey, will enter a 40-foot black widow spider float in the Picnic Day Parade, which gets underway Saturday at 9:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony by the grandstands on North Quad Ave., across from Wickson Hall. The parade starts at 10 a.m., with announcement locations at 2nd and D streets in downtown Davis; F Street in front of PDQ Fingerprinting; and 3rd and C streets in downtown Davis. Last year the spider float won the "Best Organization" award in the parade.
At the 2017 UC Davis Picnic Day, the Department of Entomology and Nematology won two special exhibit awards. By popular vote, "Little Swimmers and Fly Tyers (Briggs Hall)," won the category, "Hidden Treasures"; and "Real Insects and Mimics" (Bohart Museum of Entomology) won the category "Family Friendly."
Here's what's on tap at Briggs, either in front or inside the building:
- Entomology at UC Davis: Enter Briggs Hall and find a wide variety of entomology-themed displays, from classics, including insect forestry to recent additions, such as “Virtual Reality Bugs."
- Honey Tasting Booth: Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and her staff will operate the honey tasting booth, focusing on berry honeys. They will offer these honey varietals: blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, snowberry, almond and buckwheat.
- Maggot Art: Visitors will create maggot art by dipping a maggot into a water-based, non-toxic paint and position it on paper and let it crawl. Voila! Maggot art, suitable for framing
- Cockroach Races: Crowds can pick their favorite "roach athlete" and cheer it to victory
- Virtual Reality Bugs: Medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo will set up a virtual reality system to enable people to view three dimensional models of insects. In VR, the models can be made to look life size, 40 feet tall or anywhere in between, he says. Here's the link that to view them in your web browser: https://skfb.ly/6xVru
- Bug Doctor: The Doctor Is In: Graduate students will identify insects and arachnids and answer questions
- IPM Booth: UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program professionals will discuss and answer questions about insect pests, beneficial insects and pest control. They will display their publications and live insects. In keeping with tradition, they will give away free lady beetles (lady bugs), to be released in gardens to devour aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
- Mosquito Abatement: Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District professionals will staff a booth
- Dr. Death: Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey will staff his traditional Dr. Death booth, inviting the visitors to ask questions and look through microscopes.
- Davis Fly Fishers: The anglers will demonstrate fly-tying techniques in Briggs 158
- Scavenger Hunt: Participants will search for and identify insects in a display of 10 drawers in Briggs 122.
- Insect Face Painting: Entomology Club members will face-paint bees, butterflies, lady beetles and other insects
- T-Shirt Sales: Visitors can take their pick or picks among insect-themed t-shirts (popular t-shirts include beetles and honey bees) Selection and prices are online at https://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad/
- Bake Sale: The Entomology Club will offer insect-themed baked goods.
- Strike Up the Band: Music composed by Michael Lewis Bollinger (Frank Zalom lab); cover songs possible. The band, dressed in insect costumes, will include Jackson Audley of the Steve Seybold lab, rhythm guitar; Yao Cai of the Joanna Chiu lab, drums; Christine Tabuloc of the Chiu lab, vocals; Wei Lin of the Brian Johnson lab, bass; Jill Oberski of the Phil Ward lab, tenor saxophone; and Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab, bassist.
"The band will be setting up and warming up at 4," said Boudinot. "We'll start our set at 4:30, and wrap up at 5 or so. We are working on tightening up the set list--for now we have four songs. Expect some guitar and drum solos at the least!"
At the Bohart Museum, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the theme is "Where the Sun Doesn't Shine," a play on this year's Picnic Day theme of "Where the Sun Shines."
"We'll be highlighting nocturnal insects, cave dwelling insects, and yes, beaver butt beetles or Platypsyllus castoris, an ectoparasite on beavers, near their glands, wounds, and skin," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. " We will be holding insects as well."
The Bohart Museum staff and students will also be on the Quad on Wednesday, April 18 from noon to 1 p.m.as part of a pre-Picnic Day showcase being organized by the Picnic Day Committee. They will be holding insects and encouraging others to do so.
Professor Diane Ullman of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will speak on “Winds of Change: Bridging Art and Science” at a seminar hosted by the UC Davis Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology on Wednesday, April 25 in Meyer Hall.
The seminar will take place from 3:45 to 5 p.m. in the Foster Room, Room 1138.
Ullman, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, will describe the building blocks, innovations and outcomes of the program that she and nationally known ceramicist Donna Billick of Davis formed in 2006.
Ullman and Billick created the art/science fusion concept in 1997 with an undergraduate course, “Art, Science and the World of Insects,” that became the centerpiece and inspiration for the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
Since then, the program “has been a hot bed of innovation, bridging art and science with diverse undergraduate courses, exhibitions, performances and colloquia with collaboration among design faculty, science faculty, museum educators, professors artists and UC Davis students,” Ullman related.
Ullman, both a noted entomologist and artist, will relate how the program was developed, why the connections between art and science can be transformational to teaching in both formal and informal settings, and how community inspirations and educational infrastructure are needed to succeed. “As the winds of change moved across the landscape, bridges between visual and performing arts, design, science and technology were built and programs around this concept have arisen worldwide,” Ullman noted.
The settings and circumstances growing from this intellectual borderland yielded many unexpected outcomes that Ullman will share in her presentation.
One of the their most noted works is Nature's Gallery, a mosaic mural in the Ruth Storer Gardens, UC Davis Arboretum, off Garrod Drive. Handcrafted by UC Davis staff, faculty and community members, under the umbrella of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, it features interlocking tiles showing the diversity of plants and insects in California. The 140 ceramic tiles depict plants and insects. The mosaic mural drew more than 300,000 visitors when it was displayed in the summer of 2007 in the U.S. Botanic Garden on the Capitol Mall, Washington, D.C.
Ullman, who holds a bachelor's degree in horticulture from the University of Arizona, Tucson, and a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, joined the UC Davis entomology faculty in 1991, after serving on the faculty of the University of Hawaii.
She chaired the UC Davis Department of Entomology from 2004 to 2005, and then served as associate dean for undergraduate academic programs, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, from 2005 to 2014.
Ullman focuses her research on insect/virus/plant interactions and the development of management strategies for insect-transmitted plant pathogens. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in entomology and the Science and Society Program.
A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Entomological Society of America, Ullman received the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award from the Entomological Society of America and the UC Davis Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity and Community in 2007.
Hoang Danh “Derrick” Nguyen, who is studying for his master's degree in entomology with major professor and agricultural entomologist Christian Nansen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, says that many species of insect pests, pollinators and natural enemies show distinct preferences for environmental edges, as they transition from one habitat to another.
“Characterization of insect pests' spatial distribution patterns can be used to guide and optimize precision pest management,” concluded Nguyen, the lead author, and Nansen, co-author and associate professor.
The paper, titled “Edge-Biased Distributions of Insects: A Review,” indicates that “the prevalence of such edge-biased distributions has considerable implications for how to sample and monitor insects, and it also suggests that in many cases pest management tactics, such as, releases of natural enemies or insecticide applications can be spatially targeted to field edges.”
Nguyen wrote the paper as an undergraduate student. “He decided to write a review article on a topic related to insect ecology and pest management,” Nansen said. “His main goals were to improve his scientific writing and to get familiar with the process of publishing scientific publications. The end result was an article about a very widespread—but poorly understood phenomenon—insects are often spatially aggregated along environmental edges.”
Nguyen traced the history of edge-based distribution of insects in agricultural systems to a study on black bean aphids led by British entomologist C. G. Johnson and published in 1950 in the Annual of Applied Biology. The aphids, major pests of sugar beet, bean and celery crops, spread from the field edges to within, but the edges remained the areas of highest aphid density.
Nguyen also called attention to scientific studies that found that wild bees in high bush blueberry were more prevalent along the edges of orchards, and that the density of the pest, Asian citrus psyllid, prevailed more at the edges of citrus groves than within.
Nansen praised Nguyen's work as outstanding. “Sometimes we professors are fortunate enough to interact with undergraduate students who – even with English not being their first language – possess keen abilities to describe a scientific problem or phenomenon in clearly articulated scientific writing, and Derrick is a great example of that!”
“ We are supposed to focus more and more on ‘diversity' and here we have an undergraduate from Singapore publishing in a very prestigious journal,” he added.
In their paper, the UC Davis scientists suggested that mathematical modeling approaches can partially explain edge-biased distributions but “that abiotic factors, crop vegetation traits, and environmental parameters are factors that are likely responsible for this phenomenon.”
They advocate more research, especially experimental research, “to increase the current understanding of how and why edge-biased distributions of insects are so widespread.”
“In my opinion, discussions about edge-biased distribution of insects tend to be entomocentric; much emphasis is often put on the insects themselves,” Nguyen commented. “However, agricultural insect pests are dependent on their host plants for survival. Interestingly, it has been shown in various systems that agricultural crops also display edge effect as well. Therefore, through my review, I would like to bring attention to this correlation and propose insect-plant interactions as a potential explanation of edge effect and broaden the discussion about this widely observed but insufficiently understood phenomenon.”
Nguyen received a bachelor's degree in plant sciences from UC Davis in December 2017, graduating with highest honors. A high-achieving scholar, he was on the dean's honor list, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, every quarter since the fall of 2015. He enrolled in the UC Davis graduate student program in entomology in January 2018.
“I am interested in IPM, insect behavior and insect ecology, and greenhouse production of leafy vegetables,” he said. “Currently I am working on projects that explore the potentials of hyperspectral imaging technology as early detection tools for pest infestation and insect host selection based on the framework of preference-performance hypothesis. As my research model, I focus on the interactions between vegetables (bok choy and spinach) and their insect pests (leafminers and armyworms).
His projects include researching:
- Hyperspectral imaging of bok choy and spinach in response to leafminer and armyworm infestation
- Diurnal variation in reflectance signature of plants
- Host selection behavior of leafminers and armyworms based on the understanding of "Preference-Performance Hypothesis"
- Behavioral avoidance of armyworms in spinach and its implication in Integrated Pest Management
Nguyen served as an assistant training officer with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) from April 2014 to March 2015. For his studies at UC Davis, received a 2015-2019 undergraduate and graduate scholarship sponsored by Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.
“For my career plan, since I am currently sponsored by AVA, I will be working for them for six years upon my graduation,” Nguyen said. “In the long term, I am interested in doing a Ph.D in imaging technology for pest detection, plant health status analysis and food quality analysis.”
Fowles, a second-year doctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, just received a $15,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for his research on “Beetle Larvae as Biodegraders of Styrofoam and Organic Waste” and now has an opportunity to score a $75,000 grant.
Meanwhile, his 100,000 mealworms in the Briggs Hall lab of his major professor Christian Nansen, are munching away in a project that Fowles hopes will make a difference in breaking down Styrofoam--especially a problem in the nation's landfills--and offer sustainable environmental solutions.
The larvae of the darkling beetle larvae, Tenebrio molitor, eat polystyrene or plastic foam, generically known as Styrofoam, a fact first revealed in 2015 by Stanford University researchers.
“It's about insects processing waste,” Fowles said of his research. “In three weeks they ate three-fourths of a pound of Styrofoam, converting it into biodegradable waste.”
“Trevor's project should be viewed as an example of what entomological agricultural research is all about in the 21st Century--developing new and highly innovative ways to recycle resources and more sustainable food production systems," said agricultural entomologist Christian Nansen, an associate professor of entomology who specializes in applied insect ecology, integrated pest management (IPM) and remote sensing.
In addition, the project has an applied evolutionary angle, which Fowles intends to explore.
Fowles received one of 31 Phase 1 grants in in the National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People Prosperity and the Planet (P3), amounting to $463,000 in funding. His project now advances to the Phase 2 level, to take place April 7-8 at the National Sustainable Design Expo at the Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC.
In his research project, Fowles seeks to design a pilot-scale styrofoam biodegradation unit to take in regional styrofoam and organic waste, and establish a high-performance beetle lineage, or the “best beetle larvae to do the job.” The adult beetles also eat Styrofoam, but not as much.
“Organization of our food systems will be a defining challenge in the upcoming century and I believe insects will play a significant role in transforming our agricultural sectors,” Fowles said.
His design emphasizes economic feasibility, community engagement, and environmental stewardship. To be sustainable, the project is aimed at connecting local community stakeholders with research expertise to produce an ecofriendly alternative for styrofoam disposal. Fowles is zeroing in on four components to meet these objectives:
- optimizing parameters influencing styrofoam biodegradation
- modeling and designing a pilot system that maximizes degradation and nutritional value of beetle larvae
- project integration in collaboration with local agricultural producers and waste management to meet real world waste demands and
- community engagement to share the novel aspect of this concept and educate local school children about the concepts of sustainability.
After biodegrading the styrofoam, the beetles can be pelletized for animal feed, Fowles said, and the excrement or frass can be used as “high-value amendment to compost mixtures.” He figures that that since Styrofoam by itself is a poor nutrient source for the beetle larvae, he eventually will mix it with organic waste materials, such as, pulp from wine and tomato industries, to optimize beetle development.
The darkling beetles and larvae are pests of stored grains, but the larvae are widely used throughout the world as food for humans; for captive pets, including fish, reptiles and birds; and as fish bait. They are reared commercially on fresh oats, wheat bran or grain, and often with sliced potato, carrots, or apple as a moisture source.
In the wild, darkling beetles and larvae are general decomposers, eating decaying leaves, sticks, grasses, and carcasses.
Fowles said he received his first colony of mealworms in 2016 from then graduate student Tom Nguyen at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, now a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution. Fowles purchased his 100,000 mealworms from the insect farm, Rainbow Mealworms and Crickets in Compton.
Fowles, who grew up in West Sacramento, received his bachelor's degree in biology in 2011 from San Diego State University. Before entering the UC Davis graduate student program, he served as a lab manager for five years for Carroll/Loye Biological Research, launched by the UC Davis entomological team of Scott Carroll and Jenella Loye.
In a news release, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said: “This year's P3 teams are applying their classroom learning to create valuable, cutting-edge technologies. This next generation of scientists is designing sustainable solutions that will help protect public health and the environment and ensure America continues to lead the world in innovation and science for decades to come.”