- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
You could call Ivana Li "entomologist, biology lab manager, artist and chef extraordinaire."
Or, you could call Ivana Li "UC Davis service award winner."
She's all those. And more.
Ivana Li is the recipient of a major UC Davis Staff Assembly award for her contributions to the campus community.
Li won the Staff Assembly's Citation for Excellence Individual Award, Service Category. She will receive a cash award of $1500 for the “efforts and positivity” she brings to the community, said spokesperson Darolyn Striley.
The Staff Assembly traditionally hosts an awards ceremony in the fall, but this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic precautions, it is likely to be postponed, Striley said.
A trio nominated Li for the honor: Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, Bohart Museum of Entomology; supervisor Pat Randolph, academic coordinator, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences; and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Also contributing to the nomination were Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology; and forensic entomologist/adjunct professor Robert Kimsey, who advises the UC Davis Entomology Club. Li is a past president of the club.
They noted that Li "exhibits a strong sense of community and humanity,” and her “high productivity, engagement, inclusion, generosity and kind personality make for a combination that makes us all proud.”
The award is confidential, with names, gender and identification removed from the nomination form.
"Our nominee is exemplary as a scientist, artist and chef, going above and beyond the job description,” the nominators began. “As a teaching lab coordinator of the largest biology course at UC Davis, (Li) coordinates up to 1300 students and meets the unexpected challenges in ingenious, ‘can-do' and innovative ways. For example, when the lab desperately needed a large mosquito culture, (Li) contacted area vector control agencies, collected the mosquitoes, and delivered them to the lab."
“Without her tenacity in locating materials, that lab would have been a failure for that quarter,” supervisor Pat Randolph, said.
As a scientist and artist, Li is always willing to share her time and talents to fulfill the UC Davis mission of public service, the trio noted. For some 20 years, she has eagerly volunteered at the annual UC Picnic Day, both as an undergraduate student and as an employee. She coordinates department exhibits and displays. She also "interacts enthusiastically" with the public, even engaging in creative face-painting.
Li “organized the Invertebrate Collection and display for the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day, an annual science-based day formed nine years ago that draws 4000 people to our campus. This involved wrangling faculty to participate, developing a kid-friendly shell identification game to give them an idea how scientists go about identifying animals.” She “passionately draws people into science and serves as a role model with a welcoming, 'I'm-glad-to-be-here' smile and a genuine 'let's talk-science' friendly approach.”
This year Ivana Li designed the t-shirt that the volunteers wore. It featured a double-decker bus with the “passengers” as organisms showcased in the 13 museums or collection.
On the nomination form, Lynn Kimsey and Tabatha Yang noted that Li creates “amazing dioramas in the hallway of the Lab Sciences Building” and created the “incredible dioramas in the hallway of Briggs Hall.” She developed and created exhibits, t-shirts, and other informational materials for the Bohart Museum.
In addition, Li has served as an instructor at a summer bio boot camp for youngsters and agreed to be the chef for a professor's summer boot camp for graduate and undergraduate students. She also cooks for a scientific society at its annual meeting.
Li holds a bachelor of science degree in entomology from UC Davis, awarded in 2013. In her senior year, she won the "UC Davis Outstanding Senior in Entomology" from the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, and the department's “Outstanding Senior Award.”
Li learned to love insects in her childhood; she grew up in Monterey Park, near east Los Angeles. Professor Sharon Lawler of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who nominated her for the outstanding senior award, noted that “Ivana Li exemplifies the kind of leader, community organizer and entomology that our department seeks to produce. She has especially excelled in her entomology courses and in leadership. Ivana Li is a true entomology and UC Davis success story.”
Yes, she is.