So began an unsolicited email to UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal, who organized and moderated a UC Davis-based COVID-19 virtual symposium spotlighting the expertise of physicians, scientists and a COVID-19 survivor.
“This give me a sense of hope and calmed my anxiety like nothing else,” letter writer Kim Allen continued. “Part of what has been so hard is all the disinformation and complete lies and contradictions that are happening daily. To hear people, real doctors and scientists who are so knowledgeable talk about what is going on and why, is so appreciated. We need to know what we are contending with to fight it and be safe. You are all so much appreciated!”
The webinar, held Thursday afternoon, April 23, with an introduction by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, drew viewers from 10 countries: United States, Germany, Brazil, France, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Canada, Colombia, and Slovakia. A full house on Zoom resulted in an overflow crowd watching it on the YouTube. See https://bit.ly/2VurK3Z.
It will remain on YouTube, said Leal, a UC Davis distinguished professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a former professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
As of Friday noon, more than 1000 had tuned into the channel, and thousands more are expected.
“Given the volume of the material and questions to cover, the symposium was extended from 2.5 hours to 3 hours and 41 minutes,” said Leal, a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the recipient of numerous research, teaching and public service awards.
Speaking live and answering questions were five panel members: UC Davis physician-scientists Emanuel Maverakis, Stuart Cohen and Nathan Kuppermann; UC Davis veterinarian-scientist Nicole Baumgarth; and pediatrician State Sen. Richard Pan, District 6, and chair, Senate Committee on Health.
They all agreed that the COVID-19 isn't going away anytime soon, that the virus is mutating, and that it must be taking seriously.
Davis resident Marilyn Stebbins, a pharmacist on the faculty of the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy--and a survivor of the deadly illness--told her story to Leal in a pre-recorded interview. Unlike most other COVID-19 patients, Stebbins never had a fever. And unlike many other patients, the 58-year-old was healthy with no underlying medical conditions.
Also sharing their medical or scientific expertise with Leal in pre-recorded interviews: Michael B. A. Oldstone, M.D., of Scripps Research Institute, who pioneered the field of viral immunology and has been a leader in viral pathogenesis and immunity for the past four decades; professor emeritus Niels Pedersen, DMV, of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; and Anne Wyllie, PhD., Yale University School of Medicine.
James R. Carey, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, contributed his scientific modeling expertise in a pre-recorded video. In addition, in a pre-recorded interview, You-Lo Hsieh, UC Davis distinguished professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and an expert on textiles and clothing, explained the differences between regular masks, surgical masks, and N95 masks, and why certain kinds of fabric should not be used.
Bottom line: the much-needed symposium provided a wealth of information--factual information from the experts who work behind the scenes. They chronicled the history of the COVID-19 virus, how it infects us, how it spreads, possible medications that may be used to treat it, the desperate need for a vaccine, and what we can do to flatten the curve--and why this is all crucial.
"Our heroes," as Kim Allen wrote.
The first Yolo County resident to test positive for COVID-19 will join physicians and scientists at the UC Davis-based COVID-19 public awareness webinar set from 1:30 to 4 p.m., on Thursday, April 23, on YouTube Live at covidactionplan.com.
Marilyn Stebbins, 58, of Davis, a UC San Francisco pharmacist, will participate, announced webinar organizer-moderator Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
The webinar, to include experts in immunology, infectious diseases, pathology and emergency medicine, is free and open to the public. Registration is underway at http://zoompresentation.com, where advance questions can be submitted. The webinar also will include live questions.
Looking back, Stebbins related she began getting coldlike symptoms prior to a family skiing trip to Sandpoint, Idaho. An airline flight took her and her husband from Sacramento to Spokane, Wash. Upon returning home, she sought medical care for what she thought was the flu. She was tested for COVID-19 on March 3, and was informed March 4 she was positive. She was hospitalized for three days with what she calls the “worst illness I've ever had.”
In her story, “My COVID-19 Journey,” which appears on the UCSF School of Pharmacy website, https://bit.ly/2x1pqIe, Stebbins describes herself as “a healthy, fit, 58-year-old woman who enjoys distance trail running, weekly circuit training, and Pilates. I'd completed a 30K trail race just before the departure date for my vacation and looked forward to a 50K race two weeks after my return home.”
Controversy erupted when a Yolo County Health Department press release inaccurately described her as “an older woman with underlying health conditions.”
Stebbins said her symptoms included headache, diarrhea, nausea, coughing, and chills but “I never had a fever.” Family members, including her husband, who were with her on the skiing trip, have not contracted the disease.
The webinar is expected to draw a widespread audience. Chancellor Gary May will give the introduction. The main speakers are UC Davis physician-scientists Emanuel Maverakis, Stuart Cohen and Nathan Kuppermann; UC Davis veterinarian-scientist Nicole Baumgarth; physician Ron Chapman, Yolo County Health Officer; and pediatrician State Sen. Richard Pan, District 6 chair, Senate Committee on Health.
UC Davis distinguished professor James R. Carey of the Department of Entomology and Nematolgoy will share his modeling expertise. UC Davis You-Lo Hsieh, distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and an expert on textiles and clothing, will explain the differences between regular masks, surgical masks, and N95 masks.
UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, a Star Trek enthusiast, coined that theme last year when he launched the university's 10-year strategic planning process. It's aimed at bringing together everyone's bold ideas to “propel us to accomplish things we've only dreamed of in the past.”
So does the chancellor “boldy go” into a museum with nearly eight million insect specimens and a live “petting zoo” of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking insects, scorpions, tarantulas and praying mantises?
Does he "boldly go" to see a rose-haired tarantula named Coco McFluffin, a scorpion named Hamilton, and an orchid praying mantis named Marsha? And dozens of Madagascar hissing cockroaches fondly nicknamed “Hissers?”
He does. Of course, he does!
On Tuesday afternoon, Chancellor May and Helene Dillard, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences--accompanied by a small contingent--toured the research-and-education-oriented Bohart Museum of Entomology in the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
May, an accomplished scholar/engineer/administrator and former dean of Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Engineering, became the seventh UC Davis chancellor on Aug. 1, 2017. Known as a dynamic and innovative leader, the chancellor today leads “the most comprehensive campus in the University of California system, with four colleges and six professional schools that offer 104 undergraduate majors and 96 graduate and professional degrees. UC Davis enrolls about 37,000 students, brings in nearly $800 million annually in sponsored research and contributes at least $8 billion to the California economy each year,” according to the UC Davis News Service.
This was his first official visit to the Bohart Museum, a world-renowned museum that's part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Those welcoming the UC Davis administrators included Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology; Steve Nadler, chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; senior museum scientist Steve Heydon; Tabatha Yang, the museum's education and outreach coordinator; and Jeff Smith, curator of the butterfly and moth collection.
The Bohart Museum traces its roots back to 1946 in Briggs Hall, where it began as a teaching-and-research tool--and began humbly, Kimsey told the entourage. It consisted of two Schmitt boxes but grew steadily with the help of several faculty members, students and donors. By 1969 the number of specimens had totaled more than 100,000. Today the global collection houses nearly eight million specimens.
The museum is named for its founder, celebrated entomologist Richard Mitchell Bohart (1913-2007), whose UC Davis career spanned more than 50 years. He established the research-oriented collection in 1946--the same year he joined the UC Davis faculty--and contributed scores of specimens: Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), Diptera (flies) and Strepsiptera (twisted wing parasites). He chaired the Department of Entomology from 1963 to 1976. He later served as major professor to a young entomology graduate student named Lynn Kimsey, eager to study the taxonomy of bees and wasps and insect diversity. Kimsey, who received her doctorate in 1979, joined the UC Davis faculty in 1989, the same year she was named director of the collection. Like her mentor, she has also chaired the department (2008-2009).
As they walked around the insect museum, Chancellor May and Dean Hillard admired trays of butterflies; watched students working on specimens; thumbed through a macro insect photography book by Levon Biss of the Oxford Museum of Natural History, England; and greeted the permanent and temporary residents of the petting zoo. Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks (stick insects) adorned the shoulders of UC Davis entomology student Wade Spencer, "zookeeper" of the petting zoo. He also cradled his favorite scorpion named Hamilton. Explaining that scorpions fluoresce under ultraviolet light, Kimsey illuminated Hamilton. The arachnid glowed a blue-green neon; the glow comes from a substance in the hyaline layer, part of the scorpion's exoskeleton, they explained.
Children who visit the Bohart Museum delight in the petting zoo, Kimsey said. Among the 2017 visitors: public and private school students; Girl and Boy Scouts; 4-H'ers; and youngsters from the Tulare County Office of Education's Migrant Education Program. Following their visit, most of the Tulare group, ages 8-11, vowed to become entomologists.
"All the kids are told when they come in that there are three words they are not allowed to use here," Kimsey said. "They are yuck, eww and gross."
But, she quipped, "they can say frass."
Frass is insect excrement.
(Editor's Note: The Bohart Museum is open to the public Monday through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., and also holds weekend open houses periodically during the academic year. Admission is free. The Bohart will be open on Saturday, Feb. 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. as part of the campuswide (and free) Biodiversity Museum Day, featuring 13 museums or collections.)