- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Kelly will be honored at an awards luncheon during the annual PBESA meeting, set April 10-13 in Santa Rosa. The branch encompasses 11 Western states, parts of Canada and Mexico and several U.S. territories.
Kelly, who joined the Attardo lab in 2018, is the two-term president of the UC Davis Equity in STEM and Entrepreneurship (ESTEME) and serves as the vice president of the Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA).
"She excels in leadership, as well as in research, academics and public service," wrote Steve Nadler, professor and chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, in his letter of nomination. Known as Taylor, she "is an important role model, sharing her enthusiasm for entomology and other sciences with the public, and eagerly supporting undergraduate students and others on their paths to scientific careers."
Taylor drew strong support from doctoral candidate Jill Oberski, president of EGSA and an active member of ESTEME; ESTEME past president Alexus Roberts, and ESTEME colleague Sophie Zhu. The organization supports greater equity and inclusion in science, helping help low-income, underrepresented, non-traditional students face and overcome the overwhelming barriers in reaching their goals. They also organize and coordinate activities for K-12 students and undergraduates, while also providing professional development events for fellow members.
Helping Fellow Graduate Students. Taylor's leadership activities in EGSA include collaborating with her peers to provide resources to support incoming students. Each year she collects information about awards they can apply for, and the courses that need teaching assistants. "She surveys students on their cost-of-living needs, and works with our administration to secure the assistance they need," wrote Nadler. "She continually shares information related to living in Davis and thriving in graduate school." Since 2019, Kelly has helped the EGSA coordinate the department's UC Davis Picnic Day activities, leading the EGSA committee in 2020-21. She also serves on the UC Davis Graduate Admissions Committee.
Taylor's leadership activities in EGSA include collaborating with her EGSA peers to provide resources to support incoming students. Each year she collects information about awards they can apply for, and the courses that need teaching assistants. "She surveys students on their cost-of-living needs, and works with our administration to secure the assistance they need," wrote Nadler. "She continually shares information related to living in Davis and thriving in graduate school." In addition, she is the EGSA coordinator of the department's UC Davis Picnic Day activities and serves on the UC Davis Graduate Admissions Committee.
Kelly won a coveted first-place award at the Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting last November with her poster, “Metabolic Snapshot: Using Metabolomics to Compare Near-Wild and Colonized Aedes aegypti.” She has been instrumental in teaching the graduate student offering of ENT 010 (Natural History of Insects).
Her major professor, medical entomologist and geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, praises her strong leadership, her excellence as a doctoral student and her strong leadership role in his lab. "She is dedicated, self-motivated, compassionate, enthusiastic, confident, and demonstrates deep-rooted integrity in how she goes about her work and her interactions with colleagues and students," Attardo wrote in his letter of recommendation. "Within the lab, Taylor plays a strong leadership role, critical to the mentorship of undergraduate researchers who join the lab. Taylor greatly helps assist students with training in experimental design and execution; reading and interpretation of the scientific literature; training in data analysis; and scientific writing. Her mentorship manifested in the publication of a first- author manuscript (van Schoor et al.) by a talented undergraduate researcher in my group. The work explores the relationship between larval dietary composition and adult outcomes in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Taylor is always willing to help lab members with their projects and plays a key role in maintaining the lab's welcoming atmosphere and research successes."
People-Motivated. Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, the faculty chair of the department's Picnic Day activities, says that "Taylor ranks among the most people-motivated graduate students I have had the pleasure to work with.”
“Setting aside for the moment Taylor's top flight academic background and qualifications, I have found her to be the ideal collaborator, very cooperative, consistently cheerful, perfectly dependable, and delightful to work with,” Kimsey related. “Competition may or may not select for exceptional researchers, but often selects for difficult characters. Taylor almost uniquely combines high productivity and intense curiosity with a delightful personality, an ideal combination to have in a program in which people must survive with each other. She has been an excellent graduate student, very gregarious, conscientious, with an exceptional ability to work with persons of any sort. She ranks among the most people-motivated graduate students I have had the pleasure to work with.”
UC Davis medical entomologist Anthony Cornel, who leads the Mosquito Control Research Laboratory in Parlier, works with Taylor on insecticide resistance in mosquitoes. “Taylor's PhD project is challenging as she endeavors to tease apart the biochemical and genetic factors that cause resistance to some commonly used insecticides to control Aedes aegypti," Cornel wrote. "Ae. aegypti is considered the second most dangerous insect worldwide because of its role in transmission of dengue, yellow fever, Zika and Chikungunya viruses which cause considerable morbidity and mortality. Hence, it is an important organism to study especially to eventually improve measures to control this mosquito."
Critical Thinker. "Taylor has done very well as a PhD student, so far, having 4 publications related to Ae. aegypti, 3 publications on webspinners (Embioptera) and 2 publications related to astrobiology," Cornel related. “My interactions with her convince me that she is a critical thinker and questions everything before undertaking tasks and experiments. These are attributes of a young scientist that will stand her in good stead to become excellent in academia. Almost all successful academics think out of the box and can work independently and collegially. She works with several other graduate and research assistants, and everyone likes her kindness, honesty, and helpfulness. Taylor's interests so far have mostly related to entomology systematics, genetics, and metabolomics. She has expressed her desire to remain as an entomologist beyond her graduate studies. She will always be a wonderful ambassador for entomology and her diverse knowledge of disciplines from systematics to behavior to protein and DNA studies makes her an excellent entomologist indeed.”
Taylor holds a bachelor of science degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry, from Santa Clara University, where she served as president of the campuswide Biology Club and led STEM projects, encouraging and guiding underrepresented students to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)./span>