"The award is given in recognition of significant contributions to the world, nation, state and/or local community through distinguished public service," according to awards committee chair Hollis Skaife, professor, Graduate School of Management. "The Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award is based on our recognition of university's tradition of excellence in public service and demonstrates the commitment of the Davis campus to continuing this tradition."
An awards reception will be scheduled in the spring quarter for Zalom; Nolan Zane, professor of Asian-American Studies; and Christine Kreuder Johnson, professor, Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine.
Zalom joins previous UC Davis entomology recipients Lynn Kimsey (2016), James Carey (2015) and Robert Washino (2012).
Zalom, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980 as the Extension IPM coordinator for the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) and then served as the UC IPM director for 16 years before returning to the Department of Entomology in 2002.
Zalom is a past president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the service-oriented Entomology Foundation. Highly honored by his peers, he is an elected fellow of four scientific organizations: ESA, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Royal Entomological Society (London) and the California Academy of Sciences. He is also a past president of the Pacific Branch of ESA, which encompasses 11 states, U.S. territories, plus parts of Canada and Mexico.
Zalom pioneered ESA's Grand Challenges in Entomology Initiative, aimed at encouraging entomologists to think and act more globally by identifying attainable challenges for entomology that could lead to sustainable solutions for some of the world's important insect-based problems. One outcome: he helped organize and co-chaired the “Summit on the Aedes aegypti Crisis in the Americas” that met in March 2016 in Maceio, Brazil--coincidentally at the height of the Zika virus outbreak. The initiative brought together more than 70 researchers, public health officials, entomologists, vector control experts, and representatives from NGOs and government agencies from throughout the hemisphere to identify immediate steps to create long-term and sustainable solutions.
Zalom organized and co-chaired--with presidents of four other entomological societies--the first ever International Entomology Leadership Summit, spanning two days within the 2016 International Congress of Entomology (ICE) meeting in September in Orlando, Fla. More than 150 invited leaders of entomology societies from around the world attended the summit and collaborated on how to identify and resolve major entomological issues, in order to make powerful contributions to improve the human condition.
Known nationally and globally for his IPM leadership, Zalom co-chaired the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities' National IPM Committee (NIPMCC) from 1999-2015. This committee of IPM leaders from across the country helped establish a vision for collaborations between universities and agencies including U.S. EPA and USDA to advance IPM for agricultural and urban stakeholders. The NIPMCC conceived and co-organized the first four National IPM Symposia, which later became the International IPM Symposium. These meetings, held every three years since 1989, with more than 700 participants attending from more than 25 countries, serve to advance IPM for sustainable agriculture, urbana dwellers and natural ecosyems.
“Dr. Zalom strongly supports youth science education,” wrote nominator Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Zalom served as member of the Board of Counselors of the Entomological Foundation for eight years and then as its president in 2015. The foundation is a national, not-for-profit organization that “envisions a generation of action-oriented youth who investigate the critical role of insects in the environment.” The Foundation stimulates and sustains interest in science through insects by developing and delivering educational programs for grades K-12. It also rewards excellence in insect science and education by recognizing science educators.
“He is also a strong advocate of STEM education,” Nadler said. “His actions speak as loudly as his words as he has mentored eight consecutive women PhD students in the entomology graduate group.” All went on to receive academic positions or leadership positions in private industry. For his work and dedication, he received the Outstanding Mentor Award in 2013 from the UC Davis Consortium for Women in Research.
Zalom lends his expertise for community engagement on invasive species. He was a member of the Governor's Exotic Pest Eradication Task Force from 1994 to 1999. A decade later, he advocated against the use of aerial spraying of the Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay communities to eradicate the light brown apple moth. He led a study of the regulatory actions surrounding the eradication effort that culminated in the 2013 report, “Community Perceptions of Emergency Responses to Invasive Species in California,” that was presented to top USDA administrators in Washington D.C.
In addition, Zalom was part of the European Grape Vine Moth (EGVM) Team that recommended technical approaches to contain the invasive EGVM in northern California's winegrowing regions and suggestions for a regulatory agency approach to engage affected local communities in control efforts. The team received the 2016 Distinguished Service Award from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources for this program.
Texas A&M University is recognizing his work in IPM by presenting him with the 2017 Perry Adkisson Distinguished Speaker Award.
His invited presentation is titled “Invasive Species, Integrated Pest Management, and One Perspective from the West Coast."
The annual lecture honors Perry Lee Adkisson, chancellor emeritus and distinguished professor emeritus of the Texas A&M University System. His research accomplishments are internationally known in the areas of sustainable insect control and crop protection.
“Perry Lee Adkisson is among the icons of integrated pest management, and one of the people that I have most looked up to since starting my career in entomology," Zalom said. "I can't adequately express how honored I am to receive this award, and have an opportunity to visit with him once again in College Station.”
Like Adkisson, Zalom is both a past president and fellow of the ESA. Zalom's many other honors include fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2010). Zalom served as Extension IPM Coordinator in 1980 at the inception of the Statewide IPM Program, and then served as UC IPM's director for 16 years before returning to the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2002. He served as the department's vice chair from 2005-08.
The emeritus professor, who retired in 1987, was the last surviving member of the original entomology faculty.
Dr. Bacon chaired the department (now the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology) from 1967 to 1974. In 1964, Mrak appointed him to spearhead the UC Davis conversion of the two-semester system to four quarters.
Dr. Bacon was chair of the entomology department when it moved to the newly constructed Briggs Hall in 1972. An appreciative faculty presented him with a plaque thanking him for his “stewardship during a period when new teaching and research areas were initiated and when a great increase in the numbers of students enrolled in the department occurred has contributed significantly to the future of the department and to entomology.”
As a 41-year UC agricultural entomologist, Dr. Bacon specialized in the biology, ecology and population dynamics of insects associated with field crops. He pioneered the biological control course on the UC Davis campus and was instrumental in forming the Plant Protection and Pest Management Graduate Group. He is credited with co-authoring the term, “integrated pest control.”
Colleague Norm Gary, emeritus professor of entomology, said: "The last time I visited with Oscar was this past year when he attended a music performance by my band at the senior home where he lived the last years of his life. He was amazingly sharp and active at 96!"
“When I first arrived in Davis in 1962 Oscar gave me an orientation tour to see California agricultural activities and visit his field research projects just north of Woodland," Gary said. "Years later, after he became department chair, I was impressed and appreciative that he actually took time to visit my active field research activities with bees near Dixon. Oscar was very supportive in many ways to our Entomology faculty and highly regarded as a professional. He was always cheerful, thoughtful, considerate, and fun to be with, whether at morning coffee breaks, faculty meetings or at Christmas parties. He was an amazing man in all respects. He enriched all of our lives, professionally and socially.”
Emeritus professor Robert Washino, former chair of the department and former associate dean, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, recalled: “I was appointed to the faculty in Entomology during the Bohart to Bacon transition period as department chair and so my interaction with Oscar dealt mostly as a newly appointed junior faculty. However, during all the years since then as a colleague and friend, I've never, ever heard Oscar make an unkind remark about anyone in teaching/advising, research and administration.”
Said distinguished emeritus professor Robbin Thorp, who collaborated with Bacon on alfalfa leafcutter bees in the mid-1960s: "I always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Oscar as a meticulous scientist, outstanding teacher, leader and person. Oscar and his research associates, Dick James and Walt Riley, in collaboration with a grower, Dan Best in the Woodland area, designed and tested shelters to provide shade and ventilation for these relatively new pollinators for alfalfa seed production. The shelters were successful.”
“Oscar and his crew also tested pesticide effects on these bees and discovered a number of biological traits important to their management as commercial pollinators," Thorp said. "Oscar co-authored the first Cooperative Extension publication on the alfalfa leafcutting bees with several of us.”
Dr. Bacon, who humbly said of himself: “I'm the jack of all trades and master of none,” pursued many diverse interests. He was not only agriculturist, entomologist, researcher, professor, administrator, but a mechanic, furniture builder, boating enthusiast and ag history docent. He restored antique cars and boats, from rustic Model T's to a 1964 mahogany Chris-Craft cabin cruiser. As a wood carver and artist, he crafted furniture and carved birds.
Born Nov. 8, 1919, Oscar grew up in Sanger, Fresno County on a 60-acre family farm. He was an only child. Oscar harvested grapes, figs and peaches, drove tractors, raised 4-H pigs and renovated Model T's.
“Back then it seemed like nearly every farm had an old worn-out Model T along the fence lines,” he recalled in a feature story published in 2009 on the UC Davis Entomology website. “A boyhood friend from a neighboring ranch and I would give a farmer a couple of dollars for his car and then restore it.” The Tin Lizzies purred back to life.
Young Oscar attended school in a two-room schoolhouse; he recalled that grades one through four shared one room, and grades 5 to 8, the other.
Nature fascinated him. “I collected insects and watched birds and mammals and collected rocks and minerals.”
Oscar graduated from Sanger High School, Reedley Junior College and Fresno State College, majoring in zoology. He planned a career as a ranger naturalist with the National Parks Service, but the federal agency had no openings. So he accepted a position with the USDA Dried Fruit Insect Laboratory, Fresno, as a field aide.
It proved to be a two-year stint. In 1943, his boss steered him toward entomology and encouraged him “to get a degree” at UC Berkeley and return to the USDA.
Oscar went on to earn two degrees from UC Berkeley: his master's degree in entomology in 1944, following a year of study, and his doctorate in entomology in 1948.
His major professor at UC Berkeley was the legendary entomologist and aphid specialist Edward O. Essig (1884-1964), but Oscar worked more closely with another accomplished entomologist, Abraham Michelbacher (1899-1991). “Abe was like a second father to me,” he recalled.
Dr. Bacon landed his first full-time job in entomology in 1946 as an associate in the agriculture experiment station. Upon completing his Ph.D., he became a junior entomologist and instructor. As a Ph.D., his starting salary was less than $5000 a year.
His first major crop work: controlling aphids in spinach. Then it was on to other crops, including sweet corn, seed alfalfa, potatoes, small grains, tomatoes and melons.
“In 1953 I had the opportunity to come to Davis to develop my own programs,” he related. “I was extremely grateful for that opportunity.” At the time, the UC Berkeley Department of Entomology offered a two-year ;Farmers' Short Course' on the Davis campus for students interested in farming. The career-oriented program was phased out in 1959.
“Stanley Freeborn (first chancellor of UC Davis) and his wife welcomed us to campus,” he said. “He was very gracious--a very nice person.”
At the time, the original faculty members included Richard Bohart (1913-2007), insect systematics and Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (1907-2003), apiculturist. Today the Richard Bohart Museum of Entomology and Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility bear their names.
It was an era when secretaries typed manuscripts from handwritten notes; “office space” consisted of temporary buildings or renovated garages; and faculty (usually all male) wore a tie and jacket in the classroom. It was also a period of rapid growth and steady challenges.
In 1964 UC President Clark Kerr announced the plan to convert the entire UC academic system from two semesters to four quarters. UC Davis Chancellor Mrak asked Oscar Bacon to head the conversion efforts at Davis. “We had 1687 courses, and they all had to be reviewed and shortened from 15 weeks to 10 weeks,” recalled Bacon. Remarkably, the conversion took only a year.
Oscar Bacon was considered UC's “No. 1 Alfalfa Seed Insect Man.” In 1987, the California Alfalfa Seed Production Board recognized him for 13 years of service. In 1975, the Pacific Seed Association, based in Los Angeles, named him “Man of the Year.”
Integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology and former vice chair of the department and a past president of the Entomological Society of America, said he has long admired Bacon as an advocate for agricultural entomology research.
Said Zalom: “Many entomologists may not appreciate that the credit for first using the term ‘integrated control' is generally attributed to Abraham Ezra Michelbacher and Oscar Bacon, who in a 1952 paper in the Journal of Economic Entomology on control of codling moth mentioned the importance of ‘considering the entire, entomological picture in developing a treatment for any particular pest.' ”
Michelbacher and Bacon developed an effective integrated control program of the important pests of walnut, Zalom said. They “described methodologies for selection, timing and dosage of insecticide treatments for the codling moth to preserve the parasitoids of the walnut aphid that had achieved biological control following their introduction to California.”
“This was an important step in the development of the IPM paradigm and is still relevant,” Zalom said. "I also appreciate his role in the development of the Plant Protection and Pest Management Graduate Group at UC Davis that produced many students who are working as pest management practitioners across the state and across the country.”
Dr. Bacon is survived by his wife, Barbara, of Davis, and a daughter, Bonnie Krisiak, son-in-law Steve Krisiak and granddaughter Stephanie Krisiak, all of the Sacramento area. He and his first wife, the late Dorothy Flagg Bacon, raised three daughters, Beverly and Gayle (now both deceased), and Bonnie.
Some of the highlights of his life:
Field-Oriented Entomologist: He worked on field crops, including seed alfalfa, potatoes and small grains, establishing a state, national and sometimes global presence (potato crops in Bolivia). He targeted the lygus bug, the main pest of alfalfa seed production. “The lygus bug has no natural enemies, so we had to depend on insecticides. Then the lygus bug developed resistance to those insecticides.” He developed economic thresholds, determining at what point the cost of pest damage exceeds the cost of pest control.
In 1944 Bacon showed that Catalina cherry moth, which infests Catalina cherry and large galls of the blue oak, is an important pest of walnuts in the Sacramento Valley. Today it attacks certain varieties of walnuts throughout the state.
Research: Bacon researched whether an 18-acre field of alfalfa seed would show the same yields without insecticides. Would predators and parasites be able to control the pests? His three-year study showed the organic field yielded 200 to 300 pounds per acre instead of the normal yield of 600 to 800. “Agricultural chemicals will be necessary on certain crops for some time to come,” he concluded. “The world's food supply would certainly not exist without the control measures as we know them today.”
Teaching and Advising: As a devoted teacher, Dr. Bacon developed “The Natural History of Insects” into one of the most popular undergraduate classes on the UC Davis campus. He initiated the biological control course at UC Davis. He advised scores of undergraduate and graduate students. He helped launch the Plant Protection and Pest Management Graduate Group Program. When he retired, Bacon received a plaque from the graduate program applauding his dedication, perseverance and accomplishments. It's one of his cherished awards “because it's from the students.”
Administration: His role as a chancellor's assistant for UC Davis Chancellor Emil Mrak included the project of converting the UC Davis two-semester system to four quarters: completed in one year. As chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology from 1967 to 1974, he moved his department to the newly constructed Briggs Hall in 1972. Upon his retirement as chair, the faculty presented him a plaque thanking him for his “stewardship during a period when new teaching and research areas were initiated and when a great increase in the numbers of students enrolled in the department occurred has contributed significantly to the future of the department and to entomology.”
Heidrick Ag History Center: In 1996, Bacon began volunteering at the Hay's Antique Truck Museum, Woodland, which later merged with the Heidrick Ag History Center. He's known as “the friendly docent with first-hand knowledge of the farm equipment.” In his boyhood, he drove tractors similar to those on display. Today he volunteers once a week, more on special occasions.
U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Bacon took up boating and fishing in 1956. In 1975, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. In December 1987, Bacon was elected commodore of a district that encompassed northern California and parts of Wyoming, Nevada and Utah. He taught boating safety, inspected crafts and patrolled the Delta waters for more than 25 years. The U.S. Coast Guard, the parent organization, awarded him a citation in 1988, praising his accomplishments and dedicated support.
Artist: In 1990, Bacon enrolled in a woodworking class in Sacramento, and carved birds from basswood, sugar pine and tupelo blocks, and textured and painted them. “There's a bird in every block,” he recalled. “It's tedious and time consuming but very rewarding. I've never been interested in making them for sale.” His favorites include an American kesterel sparrow hawk that he carved in 1997. His other favorites include a white-breasted nut hatch, white crown sparrow, California quail, stellar jay and a redwing blackbird. He's also completed other works, including a replica of a team of Clydesdale horses pulling a Anheuser-Busch wagon. “No, the company has never seen it,” he said.
Restoration: Bacon advanced from restoring rustic Model T's in his childhood to renovating antique cars and boats. At one time he owned four boats and five cars. One of his prized possessions: a 30-foot Chris-Craft cabin cruiser, a 1964 model that he restored in 1973 and sold in 2008. He has also crafted furniture for his home and family. Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus, still marvels at how Bacon could tuck his 6-foot, 4-inch frame inside his Triumph TR3, a tiny British sports car he restored.
All Things Entomological: Bacon served as president of the Northern California Entomology Society and held membership in the Entomological Society of America and the Pacific Branch of ESA.
Cooperative Extension: In 1987, the UC Davis Cooperative Extension (CE) group honored him for his public service, naming him “the best problem solver.” The group included CE specialists Vern Burton (deceased) and Eric Mussen; research associate Wayne Johnson (deceased); and administrative assistant Shirley Humphrey.
(Editor's Note: At his request, the family will not be holding a memorial service."
This was the inaugural meeting of the Grand Challenges in Entomology Initiative. ESA is committed to thinking and acting more globally, enhancing its influence by establishing a science policy program, identifying attainable challenges for entomology that could lead to sustainable solutions for some of the world's important insect-based problems, and more effectively communicating what entomologists do to improve the human condition. At the invitation-only Summit, the participants explored “three broad issues of major global importance to which entomology can make a unique and powerful contribution”:
- Sustainable agriculture – global hunger, food security, and natural resources preservation
- Public health related to vector-borne diseases
- Invasive insect species – global trade, biodiversity, and climate change
ESA president May Berenbaum, professor and department head, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Zalom welcomed the crowd.
Zalom co-chaired the Summit with
- Silvia Dorn, professor of applied entomology, ETH Zurich; past president of the Swiss Society of Phytomedicine; and fellow of the ESA, Royal Entomological Society, and International Society of Horticultural Sciences.
- Le Kang, director of the Institute of Zoology and president of Beijing Institutes of Life Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences; current president of the Entomological Society of China; and fellow of ESA and TWAS (formerly Third World Academy of Sciences)
- Antônio R. Panizzi, senior scientist, Embrapa and professor, Federal University at Curitiba; and former president of the Entomological Society of Brazil
- John Pickett, Michael Elliott Distinguished Research Fellow at Rothamsted Research; immediate past president of the Royal Entomological Society; and fellow of ESA and Royal Entomological Society
Introductory comments on behalf of the co-chairs emphasized that “leadership meetings such as this one provide an opportunity for connectivity among the world's entomology societies."
This was the very first International Entomology Leadership Summit at an ICE meeting. It was aimed at connecting leaders from the entomological community worldwide and discussing how entomologists "can make unique and powerful contributions toward solving some of the world's insect-based problems, a goal that can be achieved only through collaborative, international efforts," officials said. The last ICE meeting held in the United States (Washngton, D.C.) took place 40 years ago.
Chemical ecologist Walter Leal, distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, co-chaired ICE 2016 with Alvin Simmons, research entomologist with the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS), U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina.
Leal said that 6,682 delegates from 102 countries attended the historical ICE 2016 meeting in Orlando. “Alvin and I were very glad to hear about the level of satisfaction: 87 percent,” Leal said, adding that "we worked very hard to prepare for the Congress and promised it would be a historic event: mission accomplished!”
The cover features a photo of feeding injury caused by the three-cornered alfalfa hopper, Spissistilus festinus. Last year the Zalom team hypothesized that the three-cornered alfalfa hopper could transmit the Grapevine red blotch-associated virus, GRBaV, based in part on phylogeneic analysis of coat protein sequences of 23 geminiviruses that revealed that GRBaV-CP was most similar to that of another geminivirus that was transmitted by another treehopper. Their research, published in the journal, confirmed that the alfalfa hopper “was able to both acquire the virus from a grapevine infested with GRBaV and transmit the virus to healthy grapevines in the laboratory.”
“In commercial vineyards, lateral shoots of grapevines girdled due to feed injury by the adult three-cornered alfalfa hopper also tested positive for the virus using digital PCR,” the scientists noted in their abstract. “These findings represent an important step in understanding the biology of GRBaV and develop management guidelines.”
The disease, first noticed in 2008 and attributed to a newly identified virus in 2012, is present in many major grape production regions of the United States and Canada. It can reduce fruit quality and ripening.
The research team consisted of Zalom, distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; Sudarshana, USDA/ARS research biologist based at the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology; Brian Bahder, then a postdoctoral researcher in the Zalom lab and now an assistant professor and insect vector ecologist with the University of Florida; and Maya Jayanth, then a student in the Sudarshana lab.
Zalom, a past president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America, Sudarshana, and UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors Rhonda Smith and Lynn Wunderlich published a National Pest Alert on the Grapevine Red Blotch-associated virus earlier this year.
In the Pest Alert, Zalom noted that “red leaf symptoms that differed from other known red leaf diseases affecting grape foliage” were first noticed in red wine grape cultivars in Napa County, and subsequently in many other California grape growing counties as well.
“Leaf symptoms first appear approximately mid-summer; however, timing of symptom expression differs among grapevine cultivars and year,” Zalom wrote. “In red-fruited cultivars, common symptoms include red blotches originating from the leaf margin or within the leaf blade and primary and secondary veins that often turn red. In white fruit cultivars, symptoms appear as pale green to pale yellow patches.”
Zalom noted that symptoms usually start on basal leaves and progress up the shoot. In some cultivars, such as Chardonnay and Zinfandel, “marginal burning may occur similar to severe potassium deficiency. In some red-fruited cultivars such as Malbec and Mourvèdre, the entire blade may turn red by harvest.” Grapes produced on infected vines are characterizes by reduced brix and other changes that can seriously impact wine quality.
“Foliar symptoms are generally distinct from those of grapevine leafroll disease (GLD) early in the season, but leaf blade coloration may resemble those of GLD by late fall,” Zalom pointed out. “At this time, red blotch disease is not known to kill grapevines.” However, the effect of the virus infections on yield and fruit quality varies and no cure exists at this time.
For more information on the Grapevine Red Blotch-associated virus, access https://www.ncipmc.org/action/alerts/redblotch.pdf.
Three-cornered alfalfa hopper, Spissistilus festinus (Viticultural Information, UC Davis)
Phylogeny of Geminivirus Coat Protein Sequences and Digital PCR Aid in Identifying Spissistilus festinus as a Vector of Grapevine Red Blotch-Associated Virus. (Phytopathology journal)
See here also in PubMed U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health