- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It's exciting to see a promising career unfold.
We first met UC Davis graduate student Alex Van Dam in 2010 when he received a $12,000 award from the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS), an academic research institute dedicated to encouraging, securing, and contributing to binational and Latino research and collaborative academic programs and exchanges.
Then later in 2010 he received a Robert and Peggy van den Bosch Memorial Scholarship for his research on a scale insect. His project: "Investigating Host-Associated Lineage Splitting Within Dactylopius Using Molecular Phylogenetics."
Now Van Dam has just been selected for a National Science Foundation (NSF) Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on insect/host plant research.
The postdoctoral fellowship award is supported by both the Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Office of International Science and Engineering at NSF. During his two-year fellowship, he will work on a project, “New Insights into Insect Host-Plant Generalization: Population Transcriptome Sequencing of Porphyrophora spp.,” under the sponsorship of Uffe H. Mortensen at the Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark.
Van Dam will identify genes responsible for host-plant range in scale insects, and how they are maintained across populations. “This will be accomplished by testing hypotheses delineating physiological genes responsible for insect host-plant generalization,” he said. “Host-plant generalization is the ability to feed on many different species of plants. I will test if increased dispersal of host-plant detoxification genes in generalists leads to maintenance of functional gene paralogs, that is, gene duplications, across large effective populations.
A native of Los Angeles, Van Dam received his bachelor's degree and master's degree in entomology at UC Riverside and is currently a doctoral candidate and a member of the Entomology Graduate Group. He studies with major professor Bernie May in the Department of Animal Science. Professors Jay Rosenheim and Steve Nadler of the Department of Entomology are members of his dissertation committee.
Meanwhile, Van Dam is gearing up for his exit seminar at the Animal Science Spring Seminar Series. He'll present his seminar on Monday, April 29 from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in Weir Room 2154, Meyer Hall.
Another great success story!
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Sivakoff (right), a doctoral candidate in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, won a 2010 Robert and Peggy van den Bosch Memorial Scholarship for her work on the regional movement of the pest.
The lygus bug (Lygus hesperus) is a serious pest of such crops as alfalfa, strawberries and cotton.
Her research? "Understanding the Relative Dispersal Ability of Lygus hesperus and Its Predators Using a Novel Large-Scale Mark-Capture Technique."
“In California’s Central Valley, Lygus hesperus is under poor biological control despite a suite of known predators,” said Sivakoff, who studies with major professor Jay Rosenheim. “One possible explanation for this poor performance in the field is a discrepancy in the dispersal ability of the pest and its predators. To examine this directly, we performed a large-scale mark-capture experiment where we marked L. hesperus and its predators in an alfalfa field using protein markers.”
Following the marking procedure, the grower harvested the alfalfa field, and this prompted a dispersal event. At several times following the harvest, Sivakoff and colleagues sampled surrounding cotton fields for L. hesperus and its predators, including big-eyed bugs (Geocoris spp.), damsel bugs (Nabis spp.), green lacewings (Chrysopa and Chrysoperla spp.), and convergent lady beetles (Hippodamia convergens).Another UC Davis entomology doctoral candidate, Alex Van Dam (left) received a Robert and Peggy van den Bosch Memorial Scholarship for his research on a scale insect.
His project: “Investigating Host-associated Lineage Splitting within Dactylopius Using Molecular Phylogenetics.”
Van Dam studies with major professor Bernie May of the UC Davis Department of Animal Science.
Sivakoff and Van Dam were among eight University of California doctoral candidates sharing a total of $95,000 as recipients of the scholarships.
The recipients are all involved in biological control, said coordinators Kent Daane and Nicholas Mills, co-directors of the Center for Biological Control, UC Berkeley. Eligible to apply for the annual scholarships are doctoral candidates from UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside. Selection is by a panel of biocontrol faculty representing the three schools.
The other recipients of 2010 van den Bosch scholarships:
Albie Miles, UC Berkeley, for "Evaluating the Influence of Floral Resource Provisioning on Biological Control of Leafhoppers and Mealybugs in California Vineyards." Major professor: Miguel Altieri.
Steve Bayes, UC Berkeley, for "Determining the Population Structure of Navel Orangeworm (Amyelois transitella): an Invasive Agricultural Pest in California." Major professor: Steve Welter.
Jason Mottern, UC Riverside, for his work on molecular relationships within the parasitic wasp family, Aphelinidae. Major professor: John Heraty.
Jamie Gonzalez, UC Riverside, "Genetic Effects of Prolonged Mass Rearing on Trichogramma pretiosum Fitness: Inbreeding Depression and Selection for Adaptation the Mass Rearing Conditions." Major professor: Richard Stouthamer.
Casey D. Butler, UC Riverside, "Assessment of the Potential for Biological Control for Management of Bactericera cockerelli (Hemiptera: Triozidae)." Major professor: John Trumble.
Jennifer Henke, UC Riverside, for his work dealing with t secondary impacts on fish. Major professor: William Walton.
Congratulations to them all!