You may also have heard that during the two-hour program (free and open to the public), Thorp will share his extensive knowledge of bees and discuss their role as pollinators.
What you may not have heard is that Robbin Thorp is the newly selected recipient of the UC Davis Distinguished Emeritus Award, a high honor, indeed. And richly deserved.
Robbin Thorp, known as a tireless advocate of native bees, especially bumble bees, will be presented the award at a luncheon hosted next month by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.
“Professor Thorp has had an outstanding professional career in the area of pollination ecology and systematics of honey and bumble bees,” said Lyn Lofland, president of the Executive Committee of the UC Davis Emeriti Association. “He has continued his professional contributions since he retired publishing both scientific papers and books. He has continued to teach and guide graduate students providing them with the benefit of his vast experience and knowledge. He also provides expert taxonomic services, identifying thousands of native bee specimens. He has coupled this effort with training numerous field assistants. Professor Thorp matched perfectly with the criteria established for the Distinguished Emeriti Award."
Thorp said it's a great honor to be named a distinguished emeritus. "It is an extra pleasure to be recognized for doing what I love and enjoy."
Thorp, who joined the UC Davis entomology faculty in 1964 and achieved emeritus status in 1994, is a state, national and global authority on pollination ecology, ecology and systematics of honey bees, bumble bees, vernal pool bees, conservation of bees, contribution of native bees to crop pollination, and bees of urban gardens and agricultural landscapes.
Since his retirement, he has compiled an exemplary record for his research, teaching, publications, presentations, and advisement services, sharing his expertise with local, statewide, national and international audiences. In his retirement, he has published 68 papers and is the first author on 15 publications. He received several prestigious awards: the 2013 outstanding team award, with several colleagues, from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America, and the 2010-2011 Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorship, UC Davis. Thorp is the North American regional co-chair for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Bumblebee Specialist group. He is a member of 10 professional societies, including the International Society of Hymenopterists.
Thorp chaired the Jepson Prairie Advisory Committee at UC Davis from 1992-2011 (which includes seven years after his retirement). He is still active as a docent leading tours during the tour season. He is also involved in training new docents by providing information on the native bees that pollinate vernal pool flowers.
Thorp spends much of his time in the Bohart Museum of Entomology, which houses collections critical to his bee identification work. He identifies species and regularly volunteers at the open houses and other event.
Thorp is an integral part of The Bee Course, an annual 10-day workshop sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History and held at the Southwestern Field Station near Portal, Ariz. He has taught there since 2002 (the instructors are all volunteers), and even though he is 81 years young, he plans to continue teaching there.
In an email conversation, colleague James Cane of the USDA-ARS Pollinating Insect Research Unit, Utah State University, Logan, said it well: “Dr. Robbin Thorp should be the first scientist to be cloned, so valuable and broadly integrated are his knowledge about bees and pollination. No one else I know has his combination of skills; normally several people would be needed. Thus, he is a taxonomist of several genera of bees, a competent pollination biologist studying both native bees and honey bees in both natural and agricultural realms (with research experience in several crops), and a conservation advocate for bees. Moreover, I have watched his considerable teaching skills while helping in The Bee Course over the years. There I also get to see what a model human being Robbin is: thoughtful, considerate, a great listener, playful, polite unpretentious, all traits that the students gravitate toward. I have looked to Robbin as a role model for over 30 years, listen carefully to what he has to say, and always look forward to being in his presence. UC Davis is very lucky indeed to have attracted and retained such a fabulous faculty member.”
Colleague Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley credits Thorp with not only identifying more than 100,000 bees for her research since his retirement in 1994, but helping her with research protocol and helping her graduate students identify bees. “Dr. Thorp has contributed in three main ways. First, he has provided expert input into the design of protocols for the research, including assays for pollinator effectiveness, developing citizen science methods, rearing experimental bumble bee colonies, monitoring bumble bee colony properties in the field, and developing pollinator survey methods. Second, he has provided expert taxonomic services, including personally identifying over 100,000 native bee specimens that we have collected during this work, and working with us to develop a bee traits database. Third, he has trained numerous field assistants and graduate students from my lab in different aspects of bee biology. He's spent long hours with many of my graduate students helping them learn to identify bees. He also helped us develop methods and information sheets for teaching field and lab teams to recognize key generic and family characters for identifying bees in the field and sorting them in the lab. He's advised many of my graduate students on different aspects of their work.”
Said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis: “I have to say that Robbin has been phenomenal. He is more active in research and outreach every year. Regardless of what task is presented to him he is engaged and brings all his experience and knowledge to bear. I don't know many line faculty who are as active in their fields as Robbin is as a retiree. He is always available for museum events and loves to work with the public, particularly kids. I don't know of many pollination ecologists or bee systematists with his level of knowledge.”
Entomologist Katharina Ullmann, who received her doctorate in 2014 from UC Davis, says that Robbin Thorp is “one of the few people in North America who can identify bees down to the species level. As a result he's in high demand and has identified thousands of specimens for numerous lab groups since his retirement. However, he doesn't just identify the specimens. Instead, he's willing to patiently work through dichotomous keys with you so that you can learn those skills. His ongoing monitoring projects, work as an IUCN specialist, and recent books on bumble bee identification and guide to the bees of California show his commitment to the broader impacts of his research.”
Around the UC Davis campus, Thorp is known as a tireless advocate for pollinator education and outreach. He is often called upon by the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Garden (both part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology), the UC Davis Arboretum and the California Center for Urban Horticulture to participate in their public outreach forums and events.
He spends countless hours connecting people of all ages to the world of insects, especially the pollinators like bumble bees. One of his research projects is monitoring the native bee activity in our department's bee garden, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Garden, work that he has done since 2008. In addition, he frequently presents talks at UC Davis and afield, to diverse audiences including UC Master Gardeners, beekeeper groups, and schoolchildren.
Thorp, who calls Michigan his home state, received both his bachelor's degree and master's degree in zoology from the University of Michigan. He received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1964.
Previous recipients of the distinguished award:
2014: Tom Cahill, professor emeritus, physics
2013: Eldredge Moores, professor emeritus, geology
2012: Alex McCall, professor emeritus and former dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
2011: Charles Hess, professor emeritus and dean emeritus, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
2008: M. Wayne Thiebaud, emeritus professor, art
Congratulations, Robbin Thorp! Scientist, researcher, author, professor, teacher, and a longtime public advocate for the bees!
P. S. Can we clone him now, as Jim Cane suggested?
It's all the buzz.
Graduate student Danny Klittich won the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association's annual t-shirt design contest with a design depicting a honey bee and the iconic hexagonal cells.
Klittich, who is starting his third year as a doctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, studies with major professor Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the department.
The T-shirt, publicly available for purchase, with proceeds benefitting EGSA, is golden yellow with a black illustration. Graduate student and T-shirt project coordinator Margaret “Rei” Scampavia is taking orders at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sizes range from youth small to adult double X.
Klittich says he's not an artist but has always had an interest in honey bees. He was a member of the UC Davis graduate student team that won the student debate championship, Nov. 18, at the Entomological Society of America's 62nd annual meeting in Portland, Ore. The team debated neonicotinoids, defeating Auburn (Alabama) University team. UC Davis successfully argued the con side of “Neonicotinoids Are Causing the Death of Bees Essential for Pollinating our Food Crops. The Use of Neonicotinoids Should End.” The team, captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee of the Larry Godfrey lab, also included Jenny Carlson, Anthony Cornel lab; Ralph Washington Jr., Steve Nadler lab; and Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Neal Williams/Edwin Lewis lab.
Klittich's research focuses on increasing plant resistance to herbivorous and improving integrated pest management (IPM) programs in horticulture and floriculture. He is currently analyzing the effects of silicate fertilizers on leafmining pests in chrysanthemum and gerbera production systems.
Klittich, from Fillmore, is a graduate of Fillmore High School and valedictorian of the Class of 2006. He grew up in the nursery business, working at his family's nursery, Otto and Sons Nursery, Inc., Fillmore. During his youth he was active in 4-H and Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.
Klittich received his bachelor degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2010. Following his graduation, he worked in the Parrella laboratory, helping to maintain the greenhouses and experimental plants and assisting with pesticide efficacy trials on several crops and pests including spider mites, leafminer and mealbugs. He enrolled in the doctorate program in 2012 and continues his work in the Parrella lab.
The current president of EGSA, Klittich is active in the Pacific Branch of ESA (PBESA) and ESA, the national organization. He was a member of the UC Davis championship team that won the ESA student debate in 2013. The subject: “Using GMOs to Using GMO's to Technology is Not Universally Accepted – Con side."
Klittich plans to receive his doctorate in 2016. His career goal: to pursue a career in pesticide and IPM research either in the private sector or in the California University System as a farm advisor.
In addition to the honey bee t-shirt, EGSA is offering other T-shirts, most available for $15. Popular EGSA shirts depict a dung beetle, “They See Me Rollin'”; a “cuddling moth” for infants and toddlers; a weevil shirt, “See No Weevil, Hear No Weevil, Speak No Weevil”; and “The Beetles” shirt, of four beetles crossing Abbey Road, reminiscent of The Beatles pictured on their Abbey Road album. All can be ordered from Margaret “Rei” Scampavia at email@example.com.
It's a 14-letter word but many people consider it a four-letter word.
Wikipedia defines it as a "a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine...In the late 2000s some neonicotinoids came under increasing scrutiny over their environmental impacts. The use of neonicotinoids was linked in a range of studies to adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) and loss of birds due to a reduction in insect populations. Several countries restricted or banned the use of certain neonicotinoids."
"In the U.S., neonicotinoids are currently used on about 95 percent of corn and canola crops, the majority of cotton, sorghum, and sugar beets, and about half of all soybeans," according to Wikipedia. "They are also used on the vast majority of fruit and vegetable crops, including apples, cherries, peaches, oranges, berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, and potatoes. Neonicotinoids are also applied to cereal grains, rice, nuts, and wine grapes. Imidacloprid is effective against sucking insects, some chewing insects, soil insects and is also used to control fleas on domestic animals. It is possibly the most widely used insecticide, both within the neonicotinoids and in the worldwide market."
Neonics, as they're called, will be front center stage in Portland, Ore. at the Entomological Society of America's student debates on Tuesday, Nov. 18. It's the 62nd annual ESA meeting. Distinguished professor Frank Zalom, an integrated pest management specialist in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, serves as president of the 7000-member organization.
Several different topics will be debated. For the debate on neonics, it will be UC Davis graduate students vs. graduate students from Auburn University, Alabama.
For months now, the graduate students have been reading the literature, talking to experts, and setting strategies.
We listened in on a practice debate Thursday night in the third-floor conference room of Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The team is captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee of the Larry Godfrey lab, and coached by Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the department. Other team members are Jenny Carlson, Anthony Cornel lab; Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Neal Williams/Edwin Lewis lab; Ralph Washington Jr., Steve Nadler lab; and Daniel Klittich, Michael Parrella lab.
They scrutinized a PowerPoint, making sure every word was clear and exactly the one they wanted. They searched for more resources, pointing out which scientist published what significant paper and when and where. Extension apicuturist (retired) Eric Mussen of UC Davis was there to assist with his expertise on honey bees and pesticides.
We won't tell you what the strategies are--that would be a "spoiler." Suffice it to say that this controversial topic promises to be lively. The Auburn team, comprised of Olufemi Ajayi, Adekunle Adesanya, Julian Golec, Matt Burrows, Scott Clem and, Z. Ye and advised by David Held, will argue that neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops, and will advocate that the use of neonicotinoids should end. UC Davis will take the opposing view.
The 2013 UC Davis team, also captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, won the ESA championship. They hope for a repeat. They're good; they've won every match since 2011 except one.
Aghaee is deeply involved in ESA activities. A participant in the student debates and Linnean Games teams for four years, he also participates in the student 10-minute paper competitions, covering such topics as Lygus bug movements in bush beans, efficacy of Bacillus thuringiensis spp. galleriae against rice water weevil, and preliminary research on winter flooding effectiveness against rice water weevil. Last year he won first place for his winter flood presentation.
Aghaee, whose major professor is Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey, is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate working on rice water weevil (Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus) management in California rice. The majority of Aghaee's dissertation research is dedicated toward developing alternative management options for growers. “I have examined the use of Bacillus thuringiensis spp. galleriae as a biopesticide for rice water weevil and explored the mechanisms of winter flooding rice fields as a cultural control against weevil larvae," Aghaee related. "I am currently examining the possible role of silicon augmentation as a means of increasing rice tolerance to weevil damage and the potential threat of Brown marmorated stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) to California rice."
A Renaissance kind of guy, Aghaee has secondary interests in post-Renaissance European history and contemporary Middle Eastern politics. He explores some of these themes in his freshman seminar titled "Bugs, Germs, and Steel: A History of Entomology in Warfare" where he and his colleagues teach students how basic scientific research and ecology has influenced human conflicts and technological progress. Outside of entomology, his leisure activities include oil painting, language acquisition, and culinary specialization in Persian and Indo-Pakistani cuisines.
Stay tuned for who won the debate and what they said. Their work will be published in the journal, American Entomologist.
But "citizen scientist" is a catchy term, all the same. Basically, it's the public engagement in scientific research activities.
“Citizen Science is a powerful tool that scientists can use to harness the power of the public,” says entomologist Andrea Lucky. "Public participation in science offers both scientific and educational benefits, including the possibility of massive and openly accessible data. This approach holds the promise of a new way of doing science and a new way of learning science, but also poses challenges of organization, quality control and funding. Two projects, the School of Ants and Backyard Bark Beetles were developed to address the main concerns with Citizen Science projects, and demonstrate how modern public participation in science can be an effective tool for teaching science and investigating topics including, but not limited to biodiversity, invasive species, population genetics, and systematics.” (Read what Entomology Today says about citizen science and Andrea Lucky's role. Also check out her citizen science projects on her website.)
Lucky, an assistant research scientist with the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida--she received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, working with major professor/ant specialist Phil Ward--will speak on "From Pavement Ants to Population Genetics: Citizen Science Today and Tomorrow" on Wednesday, May 28 at a seminar hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Her talk, from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, is scheduled to be recorded for later viewing on UCTV.
A native of Chicago, Andrea Lucky grew up in Cincinnati, graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and then spent two years as a Fulbright scholar studying insects in Ecuador. Her insect talks are numerous. She was an invited speaker at the 2012 International Congress of Entomology, Daegu, South Korea, Aug 2012. She has also presented her work at the Entomological Society of America (ESA), and Pacific Branch of ESA and has taught numerous classes, seminars and workshops. At UC Davis, she designed a course on “Insects and the Media,” which she taught in the spring of 2006 and the fall of 2008. In 2009, she won a UC Davis outstanding graduate student teaching award, presented to her by the chancellor.
One of her goals is to "make science accessible and available to the general public, particularly to make the process of 'doing' science accessible to non-scientists."
A noble and worthwhile goal, indeed.
All in a two-day period...
Internationally recognized entomologist May Berenbaum, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will present two Storer Lectures next week at UC Davis. Both are free and open to the public.
The first is billed as a "public" lecture (as opposed to "scientific" lecture) on Tuesday, May 20 on "Bees in Crisis: Colony Collapse, Honey Laundering and Other Problems Bee-Setting American Apiculture" at 4:10 p.m. in Ballrooms A and B of the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane.
The second is a scientific lecture on Wednesday, May 21 on "Sex and the Single Parsnip: Coping with Florivores and Pollinators in Two Hemispheres." This will take place at 4:10 p.m. in Ballrooms A and B of the UC Davis Conference Center.
Both are sponsored by the Storer Endowment in Life Sciences, College of Biological Sciences.
May Berenbaum--appropriately she's speaking in May!--is a talented scientist, dedicated researcher, dynamic speaker, creative author, and an insect ambassador and all-around general bug lover. In fact, we can't think of anything she doesn't do well. Ever heard of Ninety-Nine Gnats, Nits and Nibblers? Or Ninety-Nine More Maggots, Mites and Munchers? Those are her books. Ever heard of "Buzzwords: A Scientist Muses on Sex, Bugs, and Rock 'n' Roll? Hers. Bugs in The System: Insects And Their Impact On Human Affairs? Hers, too.
We first heard May Berenbaum speak several years ago at a meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Come 2016, she will head the 7000-member organization and become the fifth female president. (Integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is the current president.)
Berenbaum, however, is the first ESA president to have a fictional TV character named after her: Bambi Berenbaum from The X-Files.
Her deep interest in insects led to her founding the University of Illinois' Insect Fear Film Festival, a celebration of Hollywood's "misperceptions" of insect biology, an outreach activity now entering its 32nd year.
Berenbaum focuses her research on the chemical interactions between herbivorous insects and their host plants, and the implications of these interactions on the organization of natural communities and the evolution of species. In addition to her pioneering research, she is devoted to teaching and to fostering scientific literacy to the general public, authoring numerous magazine articles, as well as three books on insect fact and folklore.
As as a spokesperson for the scientific community on the honey bee colony collapse disorder, Berenbaum has conducted research, written op-ed essays and testified before Congress on the issue.
Among her many honors, she is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Ecological Society of America, Entomological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
In 2011 Berenbaum was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, an international award that recognizes "those individuals who have contributed in an outstanding manner to scientific knowledge and public leadership to preserve and enhance the environment of the world."
In recognition of her research and her efforts in promoting public understanding of science, she has received many awards, including the 2010 AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science. She also received the1996 Distinguished Teaching Award from the North Central Branch of ESA.
Some biographical information:
Born in Trenton, N.J., Berenbaum received her bachelor's degree in biology from Yale University in 1975 and her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980. She joined the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in August 1980 and has served as president since 1992 and as Swanlund Professor of Entomology since 1996.
Her work has been reported in more than 220 refereed scientific papers and 35 book chapters. Recent service to her profession includes membership on the editorial boards of four journals and terms on the National Academy of Sciences Council and Governing Board, the National Research Council Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science and Creationism, and the Advisory Board of the Koshland Museum of the National Academy of Sciences.
Berenbaum has chaired two National Research Council study committees, including most recently the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America. Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy, she has written many magazine articles, as well as six books about insects for the general public. She is also in demand as a speaker, addressing more than 100 schools, service organizations, museums, science and nature centers, and special interest organizations. She is also a favorite of the news media for insect-related news stories.
Berenbaum's campus host will be Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He can be reached at mpparrella@ucdavis or (530) 752-0492.
As for the Tracy and Ruth Storer Lectureship in the Life Sciences, it is considered the most prestigious of the endowed seminars at UC Davis. Established in 1960, the lectureship is funded through a gift from Professor Tracy I. Storer and Dr. Ruth Risdon Storer. Tracy Storer was the founding chair of the UC Davis Department of Zoology. Ruth Risdon Storer was Yolo County's first female pediatrician. The Storer Garden in the UC Davis Arboretum bears her name.
If you miss Berenbaum's talks, plans call for recording them for later posting on UCTV.