- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Devoted to research, teaching and public service, he'll speak next week on “Urban Food Production in the Digital Age—Local Empowerment and Sustainability” as part of the UC Davis Community Book Project, which focuses on award-winning writer, activist and academic Raj Patel's work, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.
Nansen, an agricutural entomologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will deliver his presentation from 12 noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18 in the Memorial Union's Garrison Room, UC Davis campus.
Sustainable pest management solutions in agricultural systems is a key component of Nansen's research, and he and his team focus on deployment of drones and imaging systems to optimize stress detection of pest outbreaks. In his leisure time, he is converting his back and front yards in Davis "into an urban farming system."
In his Jan. 18 seminar, Nansen will cite several important reasons why urban and suburban citizens "should increase their level of self-sufficiency and resilience when it comes to food production."
In many respects, Nansen is a citizen of the world.
Born and educated in Denmark, Nansen received his master's degree in biology from the University of Copenhagen in 1995 and his doctorate in zoology from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark in 2000. He accepted positions in Portugal, Benin, United States, UK and Australia before joining the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in January 2015 as an assistant professor who focuses on insect ecology and remote sensing. His international experience also includes being an international exchange student at the University of Lisbon, Portugal and a visiting professor at Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China.
As part of his undergraduate studies, Nansen took time off to travel to Brazil to write a book about sustainable agriculture in rainforest areas. “In this process," he related, "I learned about the potential of honey bees as both pollinators of crops but also as ‘promoters' more broadly of sustainable agricultural development."
For his doctorate, his interest turned to the larger grain borer, a serious pest of stored maize and dried cassava roots. He wrote his dissertation on “The Spatial Distribution and Potential Hosts of the Larger Grain Borer, Prostephanus truncatus (Horn) (Coleoptera: Bostrichidae), in a forest in Benin, West Africa.” His research involved stored product insect ecology, field trapping with pheromone traps, experimental work on pheromone production, vegetation analysis, satellite image interpretation, laboratory infestation of potential breeding substrates, and histological studies.
Nansen recalled that his childhood exposures to international scientists played a major role in his choice of a career. His father, a professor in veterinary parasitology, entertained many colleagues in the family home. “And my mother cooked the food! This is probably the main reasons why I enjoy both cooking and why my career has been so international.”
“Even though Denmark is a very small country (5 million people),” Nansen said, “it has been at the forefront of agricultural research and production for many decades. And growing up, my father took me on field trips and exposed me to farming systems.” In fact, young Christian earned his weekly allowance in the chicken business: he sold eggs to neighbors.
In an earlier interview, he expressed delight at seeing a “steadily growing appreciation for the origin and quality of the food we eat," noting that "today, in the 21st century, the technologies deployed in modern agriculture are so advanced and similar to the cutting-edge technologies in other fields. Those technologies require skill sets beyond what most people may be aware of. Use of drones, remote sensing, GIS models, mathematical models of weather, crop physiology and soil dynamics, models to optimize input requirements and minimize economic risks, phone apps to optimize applications of agro-chemicals – these are all skill sets and approaches we are using as part of studying food production systems and developing innovative and reliable tools to be used within the agricultural sector.”
On Thursday, Jan. 19, the day after the UC Davis Community Book Project presentation, Nansen will give a seminar on "Droplets of Evolutionary Biology: Theoretical Modeling of Resistance Evolution to Insecticides" from 4:10 to 5:30 p.m. in 100 Hunt Hall as part of the UC Davis Evolution and Ecology winter-quarter seminars.
He is also coordinating the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's winter seminars. As part of those seminars, he'll speak Wednesday, March 1 from 4:10 to 5 p.m. on "Reflectance Profiling as a Tool to Study Insects and Other Objects" in Room 122, Briggs Hall.
All the presentations are free and open to the public.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
You can find out Wednesday, Oct. 12 at a program on "Bees and Climate Change” at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
The event, set from noon to 1:30 p.m--and free and open to the public--will include a tour and two speeches. Christine Casey, manager of the honey bee haven, will discuss “Climate Change and the Bee Garden," and Robbin Thorp distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will cover "Effects of Climate Change on Native Bees."
This is part of the 2016-17 Campus Community Book Project, spotlighting Raj Patel's Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.
The haven, part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was installed in the fall of 2009 following a generous donation from Häagen-Dazs, known for its premium ice cream. Approximately half of the company's flavors depend on bee pollination.
The Oct. 12th event is part of a series of tours and open houses scheduled the week of Oct. 11-13. Other tours and open houses for Oct. 11-13:
Tuesday, Oct. 11
Exploring Horticulture Innovations
Noon to 1:30 p.m., Horticulture Innovation Lab Demonstration Center
Tour the low-cost, agricultural technologies that UC Davis researchers are using around the world. Edible plant giveaway to the first 20 visitors.
Wednesday, Oct. 12
Student Farm Tour and Harvest
9 to 10:30 a.m., Student Farm
Join the Student Farm for a special tour and harvest demonstration. Campus and community members are all welcome!
Thursday, Oct. 13
Arboretum Edible Campus Project and World Food Day Information Session
Noon to 1:30 p.m., Plant and Environmental Sciences Salad Bowl Garden
Tour the Salad Bowl Garden and learn more about the Arboretum Edible Campus Project in celebration of World Food Day, which will be Sunday, Oct. 16.
Another upcoming event affiliated with the Campus Community Book Project will feature agricultural entomologist Christian Nansen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He will speak on "Urban Food Production in the Digital Age--Local Empowerment and Sustainability, on Wednesday, Jan. 18 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Memorial Union.
Those are just some of the events calendared for the academic year and showcasing the Campus Community Book Project. See more events here.
The Campus Community Book Project aims to promote dialogue and build community by encouraging diverse members of the campus and surrounding communities to read the same book and attend related events. The book project advances the Office of Campus Community Relations (OCCR) mission to improve both the campus climate and community relations, to foster diversity and to promote equity and inclusiveness.
For more information on the Campus Community Book Project, visit ccbp.ucdavis.edu.