If you've ever seen youngsters jumping up and down in pure delight--and pure enthusiasm--you've probably been to an event spotlighting the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology insect specimens.
And now you can help.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology has launched a CrowdFund project to raise $5000 by 11:59 p.m., Oct 31 to purchase traveling display boxes for their specimens, which include bees, butterflies and beetles.
These are portable glass-topped display boxes that travel throughout Northern California to school classrooms, youth group meetings, festivals, events, museums, hospitals--and more--to help people learn about the exciting world of entomology (insect science).
“When COVID halted our in-person outreach programs, we were still able to safely loan these educational materials to teachers,” said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator.
Supporting the Talent. “Now that UC Davis is open again to students we have all these bright, students on campus with fresh and diverse perspectives,” she said. “We want to support their talent, so the funds we are raising will go to students for the creation of new traveling displays. This fleet of new educational drawers will expand and update what we can offer. Some of our current displays were created 15 years ago! One can only imagine all the places these drawers have been and all the people who have been inspired."
The Bohart Museum, a research collection and public museum dedicated to understanding, documenting and communicating terrestrial arthropod diversity, is now celebrating its 75th year. It maintains a robust outreach program that typically connects with more than 10,000 people annually, according to Lynn Kimsey, director of the museum and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology.
Portable educational boxes are considered a great way to share the museum experience with others. They are housed in the same specimen boxes that the Bohart scientists use for their research collections. UC Davis students, staff, teachers and scout leaders routinely borrow these materials to enrich their programs.
"Our current educational boxes were created 15 to 20 years ago by staff and students at UC Davis," the scientists related on the CrowdFund page. "After years of wear and tear and new developments in biology, we need to update and create a new suite of display boxes. These displays will not only be scientifically accurate, but they will be intriguing to view by all ages. With every $500 in donations, a student will be able to create a fresh new box, complete with an informational sheet and a short video. The goal of this fundraiser is to provide 10 students the opportunity to create 10 portable educational displays that will enhance the outreach mission of the Bohart Museum and the University of California."
Virtual Tour. The public is invited to access the Bohart's Facebook Live virtual tour for Aggie Spirit Week on Wednesday, Oct. 13. The "Bugology" link is https://fb.me/e/XKtXPrsB. Plans are to spotlight Professor Kimsey; senior museum scientist Steve Heydon; Lepidoptera collection curator Jeff Smith; and graduate student Socrates Letana (who researches bot flies), among others.
The Bohart Museum, temporarily closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. It houses nearly eight million insect specimens, collected from around the world. It also houses a live "petting zoo" comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas, as well as an online gift shop stocked with insect-themed jewelry, clothing, books, posters and other items.
Well, now you can.
A UC Davis professor will pay you--if you're a top-notch UC Davis student--to write (the equivalent of) a "term paper."
UC Davis distinguished professor James R. Carey of the Department of Entomology and Nematology will pay selected students $1000 each to write a paper dealing with human hibernation and longevity--a two-fold project aimed at assisting him with his research and helping students learn how to research, write, illustrate, finalize and deliver the equivalent of a quality term paper.
"With a heavy fall quarter teaching load and other demands during this academic year, I am in need of help in researching the literature on the biology of hibernation and concepts associated with its integration into the human life course," Carey announced, adding that he is "in the early stages of writing a theoretical paper tentatively titled “Human Hibernation as a Future Life Course Option."
The deadline to apply is 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 1. UC Davis students at all levels and all majors may apply. "It's a report equivalent to the quality term paper I expect in my class that would receive an A or an A+," Carey said.
Carey said he hopes to assemble an interdisciplinary team of 10 to 12 students able and willing to invest the time (60-70 hours) to write the equivalent of a 2,500-word term paper on one of 10--or possibly more--topics. Research and writing efforts will be spread over the 2021-22 academic year. He will compile and format their papers in “proceedings” and publish as both a print and digital book, using the Barnes and Noble Press self-publishing website. The students are also free to re-purpose their papers.
Carey is seeking papers similar to the quality of the three award-winning term papers that his Longevity and Human Development students submitted in the UC Davis Lang Writing Prize Competition. Two students won the top prize in their categories in both 2020 and 2021, and another scored third place in 2021.
Paper Topics (Tentative)
1. Ecology and population biology of dormancy
2. Physiology and ecology of mammalian hibernation
3. Human torpor: Historical, accidental and medical
4. Prospective role of human hibernation in deep space exploration
5. Historical rates of biomedical progress in disease mitigation and cures
6. Reconfiguring the human life course
7. The biology, psychology and behavior of long-term isolation and separation
8. Personal, family and societal consequences of “dropping out”
9. The biology, behavior and psychology of individuals re-entering society
10. The future of human longevity: Emerging concepts
Students interested in participating in the project can email Carey at email@example.com with the subject line “Human Hibernation Project" and include in the body:
- your UC Davis major and year
- your first and second choices of paper topic by number or topic (e.g., dormancy; life course; etc);
- whether you would be interested in participating if another student was assigned your topic(s) of greatest interest (yes/no)
- a 100 to 150-word statement on why you are interested and would be a good choice to join the team; and
- a 1-page (only) CV. Writing experiences and skills are a plus, he said, but "I am mostly interested in highly motivated and self-directed students who are willing to dive deeply into the literature related to my broad topic and to synthesize the results. I will teach you how to write your paper competently and professionally."
Carey will interview the top candidates via Zoom and make final selections within a week. If selected, they will have
"plenty of time" to enroll in his one-credit ENT 99 or 199, he said.
Fall Quarter (2021): Frame, research and finish a preliminary working draft including at least rough figures and tables and references (using Endnotes bibliographic software).
Winter Quarter (2022): Complete research, finalize structure and submit near-final draft, all figures, tables and references cited finished
Spring Quarter (2022): Finalize narrative, figures, tables and references. Submit final version.
Carey, a senior scholar at the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at UC Berkeley, focuses his research on the biology and demography of aging and lifespan, particularly the use of insect models. A national-award winning teacher, he offers worldwide workshops on best practices in information design and presentation strategies. His most recent book is Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods (2020, Princeton University Press), co-authored by Deborah A. Roach, professor and chair of the Department of Biology, University of Virginia.
"Mr. GARAMENDI. Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor Bruce Hammock and his exemplary interdisciplinary career. He has been a legendary figure in his field for over four decades and his efforts have made critical advancements in our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, non- addictive solutions to managing chronic pain, and environmental conservation.
"Dr. Hammock's recent research on regulatory enzyme inhibitors and their effect on neuroinflammation has reshaped the way we understand both the cause and cure of the degenerative disease. Alongside his UC Davis team, Dr. Hammock partnered with Baylor University as well as other researchers across the globe to study soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) and its effect on the brains of mice. Dr. Hammock's study found that inhibiting sEH may offer a new pathway to reduce neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration; leading to a breakthrough in recognizing the potential benefits of sEH inhibitors in Alzheimer's treatment.
"Groundbreaking research is nothing new in the world of Dr. Hammock. He is currently a distinguished professor at UC Davis in the Department of Entomology and Nematology and part of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. During his time at the university Hammock has been at the helm of the Superfund Research Program for over three decades--a government-funded program focused on finding solutions to the complex health and environmental issues linked with the nation's hazardous waste sites.
"In addition to his invaluable contributions to science, Dr. Hammock has taken up another admirable charge--to make science and learning fun. Every year he and his lab organize a water balloon fight between faculty and students on the lawn of UC Davis' Briggs Hall where other labs and bystanders join in on the action. This event is a small glimpse into Hammock's unique character--one described by colleagues as enthusiastic, creative, and hard-working. Dr. Hammock's limitless drive and curiosity contribute both to the stellar reputation of UC Davis as an esteemed research institute and California's 3rd Congressional District as a whole. We wish him all the best in his endeavors and look forward to seeing all that he accomplishes in the future."
Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980. He is the founding director (1987-present) of the UC Davis NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) Superfund Research Program and is a founding member (1990-present) of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Hammock co-discovered a human enzyme termed Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase (sEH), a key regulatory enzyme involved in the metabolism of fatty acids. It regulates a new class of natural chemical mediators, which in turn regulates inflammation, blood pressure and pain. Hammock and his lab have been involved in enzyme research for more than 50 years.
Hammock is the founder and chief executive officer of the Davis-based pharmaceutical company, EicOsis LLC, formed in 2011 to develop an orally active non-addictive drug for inflammatory and neuropathic pain for humans, as well as a version in development for treating painful conditions in companion animals. A drug candidate known as EC5026 and now in human trials, targets a novel pathway to block the underlying cause of certain types of pain
Highly honored by his peers, Hammock is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, which honors academic invention and encourages translations of inventions to benefit society. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, and the recipient of the Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism, sponsored by the America Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. He is the first McGiff Memorial Awardee in Lipid Biochemistry. The Eicosanoid Research Foundation recently honored him for work on oxidized lipids.
Hammock and his laboratory are now deeply involved in COVID-19 research. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences today posted their work: "Biomarker Suggests Severity of COVD-19 Respiratory Distress."
"In a study funded in part by NIEHS, researchers reported April 1 that certain fatty acids in the blood of COVID-19 patients may predict the severity of adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)," the article began. "The fatty acids may also offer a target for treatment. ARDS, characterized by fluid buildup in the lungs, is the second leading cause of death in COVID-19 patients, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
"Bruce Hammock, Ph.D., longtime NIEHS grantee and director of the NIEHS-funded University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center, led the study. His team examined six COVID-19 patients over five days and found that those with severe lung involvement showed higher levels of certain fatty acids compared with healthy control subjects. These fatty acids, called leukotoxins and leukotoxin diols, are known to play a role in inflammatory disease and ARDS, but this is the first study of their role in respiratory complications related to COVID-19."
Water Balloon Battles
Insisting that science should be fun, Hammock launched the Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battles nearly 20 years ago on the Briggs Hall lawn (outside his office) as a way to develop camaraderie in his lab; to take a 15-minute break; and to beat the triple-digit heat. The battle, usually waged on a sweltering July afternoon, is basically "15 Minutes of Aim" because that's how long it takes for the 30-some water warriors to toss 2000 water balloons at one another. Stray buckets of water are fair game, too.
Water balloon battle coordinator Christopher Morisseau, who holds the title of "professional researcher" in the Hammock lab, says the annual event is open to "all who want to get wet," which includes students and faculty of other UC Davis labs, spouses, children, and passersby. One year a police officer joined in.
The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 water battle. And COVID, coupled with the renovation of Briggs Hall and the grounds, may cancel this year's clash as well. (See images of the 16th annual event, a super-soaker that took place July 12, 2019.)
The tribute to Bruce Hammock in the Congressional Record is well deserved. And it's also good to see the Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle mentioned. How many times have you seen a UC Davis water balloon battle entered in the Congressional Record?
"World Robber Day?" you ask.
No, "World Robber Fly Day."
Among those celebrating this special day is doctoral candidate Charlotte Herbert Alberts of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of California, Davis, where she studies robber flies (Diptera: Asilidae) with distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
World Robber Day takes place every April 30. What's different this year? Well, the COVID-19 pandemic, for one. And she and husband George now have a darling baby boy, Griffin, born in April 2020.
Contrary to popular opinion, Griffin's first word was not "Asilidae." (It was "Hello.") And yes, his crib contains a robber fly, a gift crocheted by Rebecca Godwin of the Jason Bond lab. She is now an assistant professor of biology at Piedmont University, Demorest, Ga.
"I think the robber fly looks like a Holococephala sp.," Charlotte says.
Globally, there are more than 7500 described species of robber flies. Most people have neither seen nor heard of the insects. "This anonymity is probably due to a variety of reasons," she says. "Many people call them assassin flies because of their tendency to look like other insects, in particular, wasps or bumble bees." They are also territorial, with one or two individuals in a given area. "It can take a while to find your first robber fly, but once you do, you will start to see them all over the place!"
Where can you find them? "Go into the woods and look for sunny spots with areas for the flies to perch on," Charlotte says. "They mostly perch on the flat surface of a leaf in the sun, or at the very tip of a pointy twig. From their perch, they can hunt for insect prey in flight. Once they spot prey, the assassin fly quickly intercepts it in flight and immediately pierces it with its hypodermic needle-like mouthparts to inject a paralytic neurotoxin to subdue it. Pre-digestive enzymes are also inserted to reduce the innards into a smoothie-like concoction, which the assassin fly feeds on through the needle-like hypopharynx."
"Despite being venomous and highly voracious predators, assassin flies are no danger to us! I caught my first assassin fly in the palm of my hand! Because they are top predators in their world, they are not very fearful of people. I routinely have had them perch on me to hunt prey. But be careful, some of the larger assassin flies can pierce the skin with a defensive bite if they are aggravated enough. Their bites have been compared to a honey bee sting."
Charlotte points out that "All insects play essential ecosystem roles that directly or indirectly affect our daily lives, whether through pollination, population control of pests, decomposition, product production, and more. Insects, and especially flies, face a stigma that is difficult to overcome. Assassin flies are a fantastic, charismatic example of a family of flies that are generally unknown by the public and yet is one of the most speciose and helpful in pest population control. I have regularly played with the idea of keeping a couple as house pets to control the other unwanted flying insects that make it into our house."
Charlotte, whose major roles currently include entomologist, artist, wife and mother, developed her love of entomology on the family farm in New Hampshire. She remembers her mother reading "Charlotte's Web" to her and being delighted that "a spider shared my name." The farm yielded scores of insects and spiders that fascinated her. "I couldn't understand why people hated spiders and insects so much. When handled gently and with love, they never bit or hurt me so I saw no reason to be scared of them...they were just misunderstood."
Little Griffin is following in her footsteps. Next year he'll probably say "Happy Robber Fly Day."
Or maybe "Happy Asilidae Day."
If so, then when the 107th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, themed "Discovering Silver Linings," takes place virtually on Saturday, April 17, better wear your sunglasses with all that silver blasting at you.
A silver lining is a sign of hope in a negative situation, like the COVID-19 pandemic. So positivity blocks such negativity as "every rose has its thorn" or "there's a fly in every ointment" or "all that glitters is not gold."
All that glitters is silver now.
On April 17, you can discover scores of silver linings at this "all virtual" family-oriented event, which promises to be informative, educational and entertaining.
Picnic Day officials have released the schedule of events and they include entomological exhibits and talks. Think UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, Bohart Museum of Entomology and the UC Davis Graduate Student Association. (See yesterday's Bug Squad blog)
Don't miss the pre-recorded talk on the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, Agraulis vanillae, by Greg Kareofelas, Bohart Museum associate and naturalist. These orange-reddish butterflies, with their silver-spangled underwings, are glorious. (See what UC Davis butterfly guru Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, says about them on his website.) Kareofelas will showcase them and show you how to rear them, which is what he did last year during the pandemic.
Entomologist Jeff Smith, the volunteer curator of the Lepidoptera collection at the Bohart, will present a live Zoom event from 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturday on mimicry in Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). "I will briefly mention camouflage," Smith says, "and spend most of the time on mimicry for defense--mimics of toxic or distasteful species, mimicry using odors or sounds, mimics of snakes or spiders, and mimics of non-food materials such as bird feces."
To connect, access https://ucdavis.zoom.us/j/92841203978?pwd=ay91SUpFZnl5MEdnVmlzOUxmMFFZQT09
Zoom Meeting ID: 928 4120 3978
Zoom Passcode: 160485
"People who want to submit their questions to Jeff or request to see certain species from the collection can email their requests to firstname.lastname@example.org with Picnic Day in the subject," says Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. "We won't have the time or capacity to access the collection during the event for any requests. Instead, we will pull the items that are requested or relevant to the talk and have those prepared to show. Of course we may not be able to honor everyone's request, but we will do our best."
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane (the museum is closed now due to the pandemic), is directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology. It houses nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a year-around gift shop and a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas.