- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Known by his colleagues as “the leading honey bee geneticist in the world,” he will be honored at the CA&ES Award of Distinction dinner and celebration awards ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 3 in the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center Ballroom.
Page, emeritus professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and an emeritus professor and administrator at Arizona State University, “is a pioneering researcher in the field of evolutionary genetics and social behavior of honey bees, and a highly respected and quoted author, teacher and former administrator,” wrote nominator Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“One of Dr. Page's most salient contributions to science was to construct the first genomic map of the honey bee, which sparked a variety of pioneering contributions not only to insect biology but to genetics at large,” Nadler pointed out. “It was the first genetic map of any social insect. He was the first to demonstrate that a significant amount of observed behavioral variation among honey bee workers is due to genotypic variation. In the 1990s, he and his students and colleagues isolated, characterized and validated the complementary sex determination gene of the honey bee; considered the most important paper yet published about the genetics of Hymenoptera. The journal Cell featured their work on its cover. In subsequent studies, he and his team published further research into the regulation of honey bee foraging, defensive and alarm behavior.”
Page joined the UC Davis entomology faculty in 1989 and chaired the department from 1999 to 2004 when he transitioned to emeritus and was recruited by Arizona State University (ASU) to be the founding director of its School of Life Sciences. His career at ASU led to a series of top-level administrative roles: from founding director of the School of Life Sciences (2004-2010) to vice provost and dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (2011-2013) and then to University Provost, 2014-2015.
For 24 years, from 1989 to 2015, Page maintained a UC Davis honey bee-breeding program, managed by bee breeder-geneticist Kim Fondrk. Their contributions include discovering a link between social behavior and maternal traits in bees. Their work was featured in a cover story in the journal Nature. In all, Nature featured his work on four covers from work mostly done at UC Davis.
Since his retirement from UC Davis, Page has published 65 research papers, eight major reviews and two scholarly books, many using his UC Davis affiliation. He authored “The Spirit of the Hive: The Mechanisms of Social Evolution” (Harvard University Press, 2013) and the “Art of the Bee: Shaping the Environment from Landscapes to Societies” (Oxford University Press, 2020).
See more about Rob Page's career on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website.
Others honored at the CA&ES Award of Distinction ceremony will be Alumnus of the Year, Marko Zaninovich (Class of 1964); Distinguished Friends of the College, William 'Bill' Patterson and his wife, Doris Brown, for their contributions and support of the Bohart Museum of Entomology; Exceptional Faculty Award: Daniel Sumner, the Frank H. Buck, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics; and Exceptional Staff Award, Shannon Tanguay, budget fiscal officer with CA&ES. (See CA&ES website)