- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The two postdoctoral scholars, Jacob "Jake" Francis and Jacob "Jake" Cecala, have just received prestigious federal research fellowships. And well-deserved!
Francis, a member of the Vannette lab since 2020, received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (PRFB) to study secondary metabolites in nectar and their consequences for microbes and pollinators. His project is titled “Genetic Signal and Ecological Consequences of Toxic Nectar in Plant-Pollinator Microbe Interactions.”
Cecala, who just received his doctorate from UC Riverside, will join the Vannette lab this fall to study the effects of water availability and pesticide use on bees and bee-microbe associations.
We wrote more about them on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website. These are two amazing young scholars and we expect great things from them.
Francis received his doctorate in 2020 from the University of Nevada, Reno, working with advisor Anne Leonard of the Department of Biology's Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville (2011) in ecology and evolution, summa cum laude, with distinction as both a research scholar and an honors scholar.
Cecala, who holds a doctorate in entomology (2021) from UC Riverside, was advised by associate professor Erin Wilson-Rankin (formerly of the Louie Yang lab, UC Davis). His dissertation: “Commercial Plant Nurseries as Habitat for Wild Bees.” He holds a master's degree in biological sciences (2015) from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he completed his thesis, “Bee Visit Frequency and Time of Day Effects on Cumulative Pollen Deposition in Watermelon” with professor Joan Leong, who was a doctoral student of the late Robbin Thorp, UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor. Cecala was awarded his bachelor's degree in biology, summa cum laude, with a minor in French, also from Cal Poly Pomona.
Cecala is also a 2013 graduate of The Bee Course, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, held annually at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz. Professor Thorp served as one of the longtime instructors; his legacy lives on in the next generation of dedicated bee scientists.
The Vannette lab projects are in full force. Vannette, a former postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, explains on her website, "the Vannette lab is a team of entomologists, microbiologists, chemical ecologists, and community ecologists trying to understand how microbial communities affect plants and insects (sometimes other organisms. too). We often study microbial communities in flowers, on insects or in soil. We rely on natural history observations, and use techniques from chemical ecology, microbial ecology and community ecology. In some cases, we study applied problems with an immediate application including pathogen control or how to support pollinators. Other questions may not have an immediate application but are nonetheless grounded in theory and will contribute to basic knowledge and conservation (e.g. how can dispersal differences among organisms affect patterns of abundance or biodiversity?)."