- She remembers eating fried grasshoppers at a party. "They're okay with a lot of spices!"
- She remembers watching Professor Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. and his wife, Ruth, give one another bee stings on their hands at Bee Biology, now the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. "I keep thinking about that as I get older!"
- She remembers learning about bees from Robbin Thorp (now a distinguished emeritus professor of entomology), who served on her thesis committee. "I still keep in touch!"
- And she remembers the time that a professor sparked her interest in biocontrol. Professor Les Ehler (1946-2016) "took a leaf out of his lunch cooler and held it in the air to show us some aphids on it, and a wasp appeared and parasitized them." He laughed and said "That's how it's done!"
"Wow! Cool!" she thought as the wasp parasitized the aphids.
Rachael went on to receive her master's degree in entomology in 1987 (studying with major professor James R. Carey); to join the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources as a UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) farm adviser for field crops and pest management for the three-county area of Yolo, Solano and Sacramento; and to develop and share her interests in biocontrol and other topics.
And this week the UC Davis alumnus-UCCE farm adviser was named the recipient of the 2019 Bradford Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award. She will receive the award at a presentation at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 28 in the Alpha Gamma Rho Hall (AGR) room of the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center. A reception begins at 4.
The award presentation prefaces the Agricultural Sustainability Institute's Distinguished Speakers' Seminar, “Building a Better World, the Opportunity to Achieve Climate Drawdown and a Safe Future" by environmental scientist Jonathan Foley, executive director of Drawdown. Foley, ranked by Thomas Reuters as among the top 1 percent of the most cited global scientists, will address the crowd from 5 to 6 p.m.
Rachael is a native of Berkeley and the daughter of a UC Berkeley biology professor. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from UC Berkeley.
In 1992 she accepted a position as a pest management, low input systems UCCE adviser for Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties. This was one of the first sustainable agricultural adviser positions within UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), with a focus on developing programs to manage pests in field crops with minimal impacts to the environment.
When Rachael started her projects 27 years ago, her ideas were considered “way outside the box and on the fringe,” she recalled. Now her work is mainstream with the UC Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) guidelines incorporating the value of habitat planting for enhancing natural enemies and pollinators on farms for better pollination and biocontrol of crop pests.
Long's research focuses on enhancing natural enemies for better biocontrol of crop pests. "Hedgerows are important for enhancing beneficial insects, including bees and natural enemies, for better biocontrol and crop pollination in adjacent field crops, with measurable economic benefits," she says. "Hedgerows can pay off after 16 years for pest control and seven ears if pollination benefits are added in for bees. Bats and birds associated with habitat likewise have economic benefits for helping to control key codling moth pests in walnut orchards."
Long, who worked closely with Charlie Rominger, commented: “I think Charlie would have been excited by this work. When I first started my job, we spent time in the field looking at field edge habitat and all the birds and beneficial insect activity and wondered about their benefits to crop production. Now we know! Lots of positive ecosystem services associated with habitat! Eric Bradford would have likewise been impressed with work that involved 20 plus years of meticulous research work by strong teams committed to data collection, to document the benefits of field edge habitat to agriculture.”
She and her colleagues have published 14 peer-reviewed papers on hedgerow research. Her work, with colleagues Kelly Garbach of Point Blue Conservation Science, and Lora Morandin of the Pollinator Partnership, can be summarized in their research article, "Hedgerow Benefits Align with Food Production and Sustainability Goals," published in September 2017 in California Agriculture. Her most recent paper appeared in UC ANR's special global food initiative edition of California Agriculture.
In addition to her research, Long has delivered hundreds of presentations about the importance of hedgerows on farms; conducted and published surveys on how to better reach out to the grower community to enhance the adoption of hedgerow plantings, as well as the importance of bats, birds, and raptors on farms; and has mentored many undergraduate and graduate students.
Long brings teams of researchers together to work on projects focusing on agriculture and ecosystem services, which lead to enhanced conservation on farms. In 2013, she and her colleagues received the California epartment of Pesticide Regulation IPM Innovator Award for work on hedgerows and pest management. She was also a pioneer in developing practices for protecting water quality from non-point source pollution from agricultural runoff in the early 2000s.
Long is also a children's book author of the Black Rock Desert Trilogy (three books): “Gold Fever,” “Valley of Fire” and “River of No Return,” works published by Yorkshire Publishing. They are the end result of telling stories to her son, Eugene, about an adventuresome, kind-hearted, wildlife-loving boy named Jack and three of his friends--a bat named Pinta, a coyote named Sonny and a crow named Midas. She dedicated the books to Eugene ("he heard the stories first") and her husband, David ("for always being there.") (See Bug Squad blog)
The May 28 event is free and open to the public. For reservations, access this website.
Never forget the insects!
Such was the case when James R. Carey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, and his wife, Patty, visited Africa over a seven-year period, returning with amazing images and videos of lions, tigers and elephants...but also a few images of dung beetles, moths and other insects.
Carey will deliver an educational, innovative and entertaining presentation on “African Odyssey: Wildlife Adventures, Natural Wonders and Indigenous Peoples” at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, May 22 in 122 Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive, UC Davis campus.
"We drove over 12,000 miles in Sub-Sahara Africa, mostly self drive, including visits to or safaris in 25 national parks and 11 Unesco World Heritage sites in Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, Ethiopia, South Africa, Namibia, Congo, Swaziland, Lesotho and Tanzania," Carey said,
The live narrated video-seminar, hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology as part of its weekly spring seminars, is based on video and pictorial content that the Careys recorded during vacations or on weekend trips during his annual teaching stints on the African continent over the last seven years.
“Although I include some entomological context, the main purpose of my talk is to enlighten everyone who attends about the remarkable—and moderately priced—travel opportunities in eastern and southern Africa,” Carey said. His talk will encompass Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Congo in eastern Africa, and Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho in the south.
Part 1: Wildlife adventures, including such topics as mountain gorillas in the Congo, floodlit watering holes, wildebeest migration, Okavango Delta, elephant herds and a wild dog pack in Botswana, plus overland, balloon and horseback safaris, and Namib and Kalahari Desert road trips.
Part 2: Natural wonders and sightseeing, centering on Table Mountain, Victoria Falls, Capes of Good Hope and Agulhas, Zanzibar, genocide and apartheid museums, livestock markets and a sudden flash flood.
Part 3: Indigenous cultures, covering singing fishermen of Lake Kivu, tribal peoples including Batwa pygmy, Hadza bushmen, Himba, Mursi and Dasenich tribes, and township tours of Langa and Soweto slums.
In his first African Odyssey presentation (standing-room only crowd) to the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in April of 2015, Carey covered “African Odyssey: A Natural History and Cultural Journey Through Uganda, Namibia and Kenya.” Attendees applauded it as “entertaining, innovative and fast moving.” They were so enthralled that no one looked at their cell phone! (Watch presentation on YouTube.)
Known for his technological innovations, Carey received the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Entomological Society of America. He has taught video instruction methods for the 9-university Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa, including Nairobi and Uganda for seven years.
Carey focuses his research on insect demography, mortality dynamics, health span and aging. He and population biologist Deborah Roach of the University of Virginia are authors of a soon-to-be-published book Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods (Princeton).
Carey, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980 after receiving his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley, directed the federally funded program, “Evolutionary Ecology of Lifespan,” from 2003 to 2012, with projects ranging from the evolutionary of aging and the biodemography of nematodes and fruit flies to the longevity of red deer and soay sheep in Scotland and the health span in the Tsimani people of Bolivia.
Looking for love...or a fast-food snack...or a little sun...
A male flameskimmer dragonfly, Libellula saturata, is a sight to see. The males are fire-engine red or firecracker red, and when they perch on a bamboo stake in your pollinator garden, establishing temporary residency, it's absolutely delightful.
The welcome mat? It's three-fold: a fish pond, nectar sources to attract pollinators, and a series of bamboo stakes just for dragonflies.
This one stayed on his perch for an hour on May 11 in our Vacaville garden, and then moved around a bit to the other stakes, perhaps to escape the photographer, perhaps to grab an insect for a quick snack. Instead of musical chairs, it's musical stakes--magical musical stakes.
“Magic is seeing wonder in nature's every little thing, seeing how wonderful the fireflies are and how magical are the dragonflies.”--
Gillung, a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University and a UC Davis alumnus, is the recipient of the prestigious Marsh Award for Early Career Entomologist, sponsored by the Royal Entomological Society.
She is the first UC Davis-affiliated scientist to win the award. She will receive a certificate, 1250 pounds ($1,624) and an expense-paid trip to London to receive the award at the Ento 19 conference, set Aug. 20-22 at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The Royal Entomological Society, an international organization devoted to the study of insects, was founded in 1833 as the Entomological Society of London. Its mission is to disseminate information about insects and improve communication between entomologists.
Gillung's work on spider flies, involving genomics, phylogenetics, systematics, and comparative analyses, “has increased our understanding of the biological patterns and processes that have shaped our planet's biodiversity,” wrote her major professor and award nominator Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Gillung received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in December 2018, studying with Kimsey and mentor Shaun Winterton, insect biosystematist, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and a member of the Royal Entomological Society. Gillung also collaborated with ant specialist and taxonomist Phil Ward, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Gillung is now a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University in the Bryan Danforth lab, where she is researching Apoidea (stinging wasps and bees) phylogenomics, evolution and diversification.
Her dissertation, “Systematics and Phylogenomics of Spider Flies (Diptera, Acroceridae),” focused on the evolution, conservation, biology, and taxonomy of spider flies, a group of spider natural enemies,
Gillung's taxonomic work on spider flies, described as landmark, included identification keys and morphology-based diagnoses of species using modern techniques of cybertaxonomy—the application of the internet, digital technologies, and computer resources to increase and speed up the discovery and cataloging of new species, Kimsey wrote. “Using cybertaxonomic tools, Jessica described 25 new spider fly species herself, and in collaboration with fellow entomologists, three fossil species from Baltic amber, described in her first dissertation chapter. Cybertaxonomy is a powerful tool that allows researchers and citizen scientists to collaborate in real time and across great distances to increase the speed and efficiency of biodiversity discovery.”
“Jessica unraveled the functional and ecological implications of key morphological traits, as well as their distribution across the Tree of Life,” Kimsey said. “In her doctoral dissertation, she established new homologies for the wing venation of spider flies and conducted detailed and assiduous dissections of male reproductive structures (i.e., genitalia) to understand homologies, demonstrating that morphological traits are dynamically evolving systems useful for both classification and inference of evolutionary history.”
Since many insect species are threatened, geographically restricted, or relatively rare in nature, Gillung performed non-destructive DNA extraction of specimens housed in entomological collections, including the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Gillung collected molecular data from decades-old insects without damaging the specimens.
Gillung's multifaceted research on genomics, bioinformatics, phylogenetics, plant-pollinator interactions, and biodiversity discovery drew more $120,000 in grants and awards while at UC Davis.
The UC Davis alumnus is known for her “phenomenal leadership activities, her nearly straight-A academic record (3.91 grade point average), her excellence as an entomologist and teacher, her public service and outreach programs (from 2013 to 2018, she reached more than 20,000 people at UC Davis-based events) and her incredible publication record, Kimsey said. “She published 11 refereed publications related to her thesis in very strong journals. Most entomologists do not publish nearly that much, even as a postdoctoral scholar or a junior faculty member.”
A recipient of numerous other awards, Gillung won the prestigious international award for “Best Student Presentation Award” at the ninth annual International Congress of Dipterology, held in 2018 in Windhoek, Namibia. She also won the 2019 Early Career Award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA) and the 2018 PBESA Student Leadership Award. PBESA encompasses 11 western states, U.S. territories and parts of Canada and Mexico.
Gillung was a key member of the 2015 PBESA championship Linnaean Team that went on to win the ESA national championship. The Linnaean Games are lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams.
Gillung also collaborated on a project aimed at encouraging students to attend and participate in the Orlando, Fla., meeting of the International Congress of Entomology. She and several colleagues published a paper entitled “From the Students to the Students: Why YOU need to Attend ICE 2016.”
The Royal Entomological Society will publish her biography and photo in its Antenna magazine, on the society website, and in the Marsh Christian Trust Award brochure./span>
Bugs from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, grabbed the interest of fairgoers at the 144th annual Dixon May Fair, held May 9 through May 12.
Entomologists Jeff Smith and Alexander "Alex" Dedmon kept busy answering questions on Saturday in the "Oh My" insect display area of the Floriculture Building, as fairgoers learned about bees, butterflies, beetles, praying mantids, and flies, plus aquatic insects, camouflaged insects, and more.
Smith curates the Lepitopdera (moths and butterflies) section at the Bohart Museum, part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The insect museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. Dedmon is a forensic entomologist and a doctoral student of professor Robert Kimsey. He volunteers at many of the Bohart events.
"Jeff was absolutely the star," Dedmon said. "He handled everything wonderfully."
"It was excellent on Saturday, and I stayed from 11 a.m. until nearly 6 p.m., due to a never-ending flow of people," Smith commented. "Relatively few people had questions in advance, but I always engaged them and got them into conversations, generally with my warning that once they allow me to start they won't get me to shut up. Lots of fun and worth going to each year. Never a time with no one at our booth, and many times with 15 plus people moving past the displays."
"My one big regret is that I did not have any corn dogs," Smith quipped.
Founded in 1946 by UC Davis entomologist Richard “Doc” Bohart (1913-2007), the Bohart Museum is open to the general public Mondays through Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., plus occasional, weekend open houses. Admission is free.
The next weekend event at the Bohart Museum will be "Moth Night" on Saturday, Aug. 3 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Attendees will see moths drawn to blacklighted white sheets just outside the museum. The event is free, open to the public, and family friendly. Further information is available on the Bohart Museum website or contact (530) 753-0493.