- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
So when the 2018 Paradise fire, known as “The Camp Fire,” destroyed his home, all his possessions and his hometown, his associates stepped forward with donations, including Bohart Museum t-shirts to replace those that he lost in the fire.
The Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history, and the most expensive natural disaster in the world in 2018 in terms of insured losses. Named after Camp Creek Road, its place of origin, the fire started on Thursday, November 8, 2018, in Northern California's Butte County...The Camp Fire caused at least 85 civilian fatalities, with one person still missing as of August 2, 2019, and injured 12 civilians and five firefighters. It covered an area of 153,336 acres (620.5 km; 239.6 sq mi), and destroyed more than 18,000 structures, with most of the destruction occurring within the first four hours. The towns of Paradise and Concow were almost completely destroyed, each losing about 95% of their structures. The towns of Magalia and Butte Creek Canyon were also largely destroyed. By January 2019, the total damage was estimated at $16.5 billion; one-quarter of the damage, $4 billion, was not insured. The Camp Fire also cost over $150 million in fire suppression costs, bringing the total cost of the fire to $16.65 billion.--Wikipedia.
At the ceremony, Dyer receives the honorable mention award, or second-place honors, in the highly competitive service category for providing exemplary services to students, staff, faculty and/or the general campus; making notable contributions to the department and/or campus; for creating and maintaining high morale, and for embodying the principles of community.
Today Dyer credits his “love of science” with helping him overcome life's hardships. “And now in return, he inspires others to love science,” wrote his three nominators Professor Kimsey; Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator; and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who said he "epitomizes the excellence of our UC Davis workforce."
Kimsey described him as “bright, gifted and personable. It doesn't matter what needs to be done in the museum, curation, insect identification, live colony care, computer or software issues, and working with student volunteers, he takes care of it. It is so rare to find someone who can do some of these tasks so well, much less all of them like he can.”
“(Brennen) is what I would generally characterize as a servant leader, defined by a philosophy and practice that aims to enrich the lives of the people," wrote another professor. "He works to build a better organization, and create a more caring environment for everyone. He is an exceptionally hard worker who is always available to assist students, staff, volunteers alike.”
An alumnus pointed out: “(Brennen) is incredible. He is intelligent, meticulous and proactive, and goes above and beyond to assist peers and colleagues. For example, when I was finishing my PhD thesis, I needed photos of insect specimens to add to my last chapter, but I had neither the time nor the skills to utilize our modern microscope to photograph specimens. He generously offered to help, and did so perfectly and quickly. If he hadn't been so reliable and proactive, I wouldn't have been able to finish my PhD in time.”
Other comments from faculty and colleagues:
- “Frankly, we do not know what we would do without him. He is that exemplary. He is always kind, courteous, respectful, reliable, flexible, and eager to help with any project. When you ask for a favor or task from him, you can count on it being done promptly and correctly.”
- “(Brennen) steps up to difficult tasks, such as taking the lead in a landmark, three-year, federally funded project of surveying and databasing insects from three counties in the Sacramento River Delta (to date, 700 species, including 30 new species). He does it all, from organizing collections, coordinating field trips, and training interns, to helping graduate students, faculty and peers with equipment, including the GIGAmacro system and freeze freeze dryer; and assisting them with their projects and publications, such as imaging holotypes and photographing specimens for their publications. With BioQuip closed and supplies scarce, he even designs collecting equipment!”
- “He also serves as the unofficial IT specialist. (Brennen), who learned to dismantle and resassemble computers as a child, troubleshoots the office computers and printers, and assists with the website.
- “He volunteers to drive hundreds of miles to bring back collections, donations or other materials. He eagerly supports UC Davis Picnic Day, (Bohart) open houses, and UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. He engages with visitors, showing them displays, answering their questions, and encouraging them to ask more!”
- “(Brennen) strongly supports diversity, equity and inclusion. When a colleague's developmentally disabled aunt arrived for a tour, he noticed her limitless enthusiasm and curiosity for insects, so he headed to the Arboretum to bring back a male Valley carpenter bee (a blond, green-eyed bee known as a ‘teddy bear bee') and let the aunt hold it (note that ‘boy bees don't sting') before releasing it. Her joy, glee and excitement were as unforgettable as (Brennen's) kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity.”
- “(Brennen) has been an anchor to the museum, especially these last COVID years. We are a small team who tries to do big things. (Brennen) is the glue that holds everything together and gets the job done. He supports all aspects of the (workplace) from research to outreach and education. He is tireless and very deserving of recognition. He is not someone who likes to step into the limelight, but is definitely behind the scenes making everything happen smoothly. He is also just a caring and kind co-worker and sensitive to inclusivity and equity.”
Dyer said he is humbled and honored to be singled out for the award.
"I could go on," the chancellor continued, "but the fact of the matter is that we are doing great work at UC Davis, and each of you are a part of this effort. I know how important your expertise, experience and institutional memory are to advancing the university's success. It's sometimes difficult to appreciate how our individual contributions make a difference in the 'big picture.' But every day, the work of staff are critical to our university projects, our operations and our campus environment."
Chancellor May pointed out: "These behind-the-scene efforts are what keep UC Davis humming and in tune with our mission of excellence in teaching, research and public service. They are a big part of what your university and Staff Assembly recognizes and thanks you for today. The individuals and teams we honor this afternoon have gone 'above and beyond' all expectations to make UC Davis a more enjoyable, creative, inclusive and invigorating place to work."
He added: "I am proud of all UC Davis staff, but the individuals and teams we honor this afternoon have gone above and beyond in contributing to the university's success. Thank you so much for your outstanding contributions to UC Davis. Our university is a better place today because of your accomplishments, because of your hard work and because of your inspiring dedication to excellence."
In all, the UC Davis Staff Assembly awarded individual honors in five categories: innovation, mentorship, service, supervision, and teaching, as well as a team award and a faculty and staff partnership award. The judges also awarded scholarships to staff and staff dependents. (See award winners)
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946 and located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo” (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas) and a year-around insect-themed gift shop, which includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, books, posters, jewelry and more. The gift shop is also online.