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.
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.
The event, free and open to the public and family friendly, is an annual open house focusing on parasitoids.
"An insect parasitoid is a species whose immatures live off of an insect host, often eating it from the inside out," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator of the Bohart Museum. "It is part of their life cycle and the host generally dies."
Among the presentations or topics:
- Bohart Museum senior museum scientist Steve Heydon, a world authority on Pteromalids, or jewel wasps, a group of tiny parasitoids.
- Entomology PhD student Jessica Gillung who researches the Acroceridae family "a remarkable group of endoparasitoids of spiders."
- Diagnostic parasitologist Lauren Camp of the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, is an authority on nematodes.
- Family craft activity is a pop-up card, featuring a monarch chrysalis and a fly, suitable for mailing to friends and family during the holiday season.
There are some 3,450 described species of Pteromalids, found throughout the world and in virtually all habitats. Many are important as biological control agents.
Members of the Acroceridae are "rare and elusive flies lay the eggs on the ground or vegetation, and the little larva is in charge of finding itself a suitable host," Gillung said. "Upon finding the host, the larva enters its body and feeds inside until it's mature to come outside and pupate. They eat everything from the spider; nothing is wasted."
Her dissertation involves "the evolution and systematics of Acroceridae, focusing on understanding host usage patterns and trends in morphological variation."
Lauren Camp, who received her doctorate from UC Davis, studying with major professor Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will display a variety of nematodes amd answer questions.
She describes nematodes in one word as "worms" and in expanding, “Nematodes are an amazing phylum of organisms--they exist in almost every known environment on the planet, and different species eat everything from bacteria and fungi to plant and animal tissue."
"I find parasites particularly fascinating, because they are dependent on another organism (or organisms) for part or all of their life cycle," Camp said.
Tachinid flies, which lay their eggs in caterpillars and chrysalids, will be on display, along with the remains of its hosts. It is used as a biological control agent for some pests. But those who rear monarch butterflies consider it their enemy when it lays eggs in their caterpillars and chrysalids.
The late UC Davis entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) researched Strepsiptera, or twisted-wing parasites, for his doctorate in 1938. Both the Bohart Museum and an entire family of Strepsiptera, the Bohartillidae, are named in honor of Professor Bohart.
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.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold some of the insects and photograph them. 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 holds special open houses throughout the academic year. Its 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.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Tabatha Yang at email@example.com.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is one of the best in the world, according to information released today (April 3) by the Times Higher Education's Center for World University Rankings.
The rankings show UC Davis as No. 7 in the world, scoring 89.88 of a possible 100. Of the top 10, two are in California. UC Riverside is ranked as No. 2. The list:
- University of Florida, 100 score
- University of California, Riverside, 95.23
- Cornell University, 91.95
- Kansas State University, 91.29
- North Carolina State University, 90.88
- Michigan State University, 90.74
- University of California, Davis, 89.88
- University of Georgia, 88.98
- Nanjing Agricultural University, China, 86.74
- University of São Paulo, Brazil, 86.74
Performance indicators are grouped into five areas: Teaching (the learning environment); research (volume, income and reputation); citations (research influence); international outlook (staff students and research) and industry outcome (knowledge transfer).
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is led by chair Steve Nadler and vice chair Joanna Chiu.
According to the website:
"The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016 list the best global universities and are the only international university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions - teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook."
"The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments. This year's ranking includes 800 universities from 70 different countries, compared with the 400 universities from 41 countries in last year's table. View the World University Rankings methodology here."
Overall, UC Davis scored No. 1 in the world in the subject, agricultural economics and policy, with a 100 score.
UC Davis rankings by subject:
- Agriculture, Multidisciplinary, No. 3
- Agronomy, No. 7
- Behavioral Sciences, No. 7
- Biodiversity Conservation, No. 3
- Biology, No. 10
- Chemistry, Applied, No. 9
- Ecology, No. 3
- Entomology, No. 7
- Environmental Sciences, No. 7
- Evolutionary Biology, No. 10
- Horticulture, No. 2
- Nutrition and Dietetics, No. 7
- Plant Sciences, No. 3
- Soil Science, No. 6
- Toxicology, No. 3
- Veterinary Sciences, No. 3
- Zoology, No. 5
Nematologist/parasitologist Lauren Camp of UC Davis will present the Science Night Live program on “Nematode Need-to-Know: Roundworms Are All Around You” at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 1 in the World of Wonders (WOW) Science Museum, 2 North Sacramento St., Lodi.
The two-hour event, free and open to the public, is billed as a “conversation with the parasitologist.” Beverages will be available, and a food truck will be on site.
“Nematodes are an amazing phylum of organisms--they exist in almost every known environment on the planet, and different species eat everything from bacteria and fungi to plant and animal tissue," Camp said. "I find parasites particularly fascinating, because they are dependent on another organism (or organisms) for part or all of their life cycle."
The nematodes shown Feb. 1 will range in size from less than one millimeter to eight meters long or 30 feet.
Camp received her doctorate in December 2016, studying with major professor Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Camp, from rural northern Indiana, obtained her bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Chicago in 2005 and her master's degree in biology from Wake Forest University in 2007. As a graduate student at UC Davis, she focused her work on the evolutionary relationships and genetic diversity of Baylisascaris procyonis, a nematode parasite of raccoons. Her career plans: a researcher in infectious diseases or genetics/genomics or as a science communicator.
"I first became interested in parasites during my undergrad degree at the University of Chicago," she said. "My specific interest in nematode parasites developed when I read some of Dr. Nadler's work on the evolutionary relationships of nematodes for an invertebrate biology class."