But he's an entomologist with an incredible reach that extends in practically all corners of the insect science world. He's like the equivalent of a griffinfly from the extinct genus Meganeuropsis, a huge insect with a wingspan of 27 inches.
Indeed, the reach of UC Davis distinguished Frank Zalom UC Davis distinguished professor, is quite comparable.
Zalom, a noted integrated pest management (IPM) specialist and a past president of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), is a newly elected Honorary Member of the ESA, an honor bestowed for his “long-term dedication and extraordinary contributions” to the 7000-member global organization. Honorary Member is the highest honor that can be afforded an ESA member.
Zalom, praised as “an entomological giant” and “the consummate ambassador to entomology,” joins five other entomologists as Honorary Members. They will be honored at the ESA's annual meeting, Entomology 2021, set Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Denver.
“Honorary membership acknowledges those who have served ESA for at least 20 years through significant involvement in the affairs of the society that has reached an extraordinary level,” an ESA spokesperson said. “Candidates for this honor are selected by the ESA Governing Board and then voted on by the ESA membership.”
“Dr. Zalom is phenomenal for his sustained service of leadership, research, teaching and mentoring, and in my opinion, he is one of the world's most influential, accomplished and inspirational entomologists,” wrote nominator James R. Carey, a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and an ESA Fellow. ESA Honorary Member and ESA Fellow Philip Mulder, emeritus professor and former department chair at Oklahoma State University, noted: “Frank is and was the consummate ambassador to entomology throughout his entire career and around the globe on multiple occasions.”
A 47-year member of ESA, Zalom is an emeritus professor with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and currently a recall professor, continuing his work on IPM of tree, vine and fruiting vegetable crops through several major USDA and CDFA research grants he has received since retiring. Since his retirement, he has brought in more than $1 million in grants. Zalom is also working with Professor Rachael Goodhue, chair of the UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics Department on an ongoing pesticide policy research project involving "economic and pest management analyses of potential regulations in strawberry, tomato, and other fruiting crops" in collaboration with CDFA's Office of Pesticide Policy and Analysis.
Zalom directed the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) for 16 years (1986-2002). “Frank elevated it to 'the gold standard' of the world's IPM programs, emphasizing ecologically based pest management programs for agriculture, urban settings and natural resources,” Carey wrote.
The UC Davis entomologist has authored nearly 400 journal publications or book chapters, and more than 400 other publications. He holds two U.S. patents.
Passionate about moving science policy forward, Zalom served as ESA's Science Policy Committee Chair in 2015. In 2018, he co-organized a two-day summit, Grand Challenges in Entomology in South America, hosted by the Entomological Society of Brazil. The summit focused on invasive species, public health, and sustainable agriculture, and included invited leadership from all entomology societies in Central and South America. Zalom also co-organized the North American and Pacific Rim Invasive Insect and Arthropod Species Challenge Summit, jointly hosted by the entomological societies of America, Canada and British Columbia in Vancouver, BC in 2019.
Highly honored by his peers, Zalom is a Fellow of four scientific organizations: ESA; the American Association for the Advancement of Science, California Academy of Sciences, and Royal Entomological Society. His numerous awards include the BY Morrison Memorial Medal from USDA-ARS and American Society for Horticultural Science (2017), ESA's Recognition Award (2002), Outstanding Achievement Award in Extension Entomology (1992), Excellence in IPM Award (2010), IPM Team Award (2008), and the Pacific Branch Woodworth Award (2011).
Among his UC Davis recognitions are the Consortium for Women in Research Outstanding Mentor Award (2013), James H. Meyer Award (2004), and Academic Senate Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award (2017).
A native of Chicago, Frank moved to Arizona with his family at age 4. He received his bachelor's degree and master's degrees in zoology and ecology from Arizona State University, 1973 and 1974, respectively, and his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1978. He joined the University of Minnesota faculty as assistant professor before returning to UC Davis in 1980.
“Throughout his career the depth of his knowledge in IPM was matched by the strength of his commitment to teaching students and postdocs, as well as by the power of his dedication to helping growers in all areas of agricultural entomology,” Carey wrote. “A former Fulbright Scholar, Frank is both a visionary and dedicated entomologist who has devoted his life's work to advancing entomology and ESA programs. His expertise is in great demand from colleagues, agriculturists, policy makers, students and more. He is the consummate entomologist, intricately skilled and highly accomplished.”
Zalom is the fifth UC Davis scientist to be selected ESA Honorary Member. W. Harry Lange (1912-2004) received the award in 1990; Donald MacLean (1928-2014), the 1984 ESA president, won the award in 1993; Bruce Eldridge in 1996, and John Edman in 2001.
If not, you're probably in the wrong state. Or not there at the right time.
Brood X is appearing in 15 eastern-central states of our nation (Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.) These periodical circadas have spent the last 17 years underground feeding on sap and underground roots. They emerge when the soil temperatures reach about 64 degrees.
Once they emerge, they spend two to four weeks "courting, mating, flying, driving people crazy, being eaten by everything," Michael Raupp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of Maryland told USA Today in a May 18th news story.
So we asked UC Davis alumnus Kelly Hamby if she could send us a few photos of Brood X for a brief Bug Squad blog.
Hamby, an associate professor/Extension specialist in the University of Maryland's Department of Entomology, captured these images of Brood X in Maryland in mid-May. She photographed two aggregations at the Patuxtent Research Reserve, Laurel, and an individual one at the Horsepen Branch Park, Bowie.
Hamby, who studied for her doctorate with major professor Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and a former president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), received her PhD from UC Davis in 2014. Her dissertation on "Biology and Pesticide Resistance Management of Drosophila suzukii in Coastal California Berries" covered monitoring, yeast associations, chronobiology,chronotoxicity of insecticides, and the implications of this work to managing a recent invader, the spotted wing drosophila. An excellent scholar and entomologist, Hamby received the 2014 John Henry Comstock Award, the highest graduate student honor in the Pacific Branch of ESA, which covers 11 western states, parts of Canada and Mexico, and seven U.S. territories.
If you've been following the news, you know that there are three species of these 17-year Brood X cicadas: Magicicada septendecim, M. cassinii and M. septendecula. You also know the cicada is considered one of the world's loudest insects; that males calling for mates are unaware of any noise ordinance violations or human sleeping preferences.
"Ento-what?" some folks will ask. "What's that?"
Five-year-old Rebecca Jean "RJ" Millena could have told you.
She still can.
When she was a kindergarten student in Concord, Calif., RJ wrote exactly this on her "About Me" poster: "When I grow up, I want to be an entomologist."
Fast forward to today. She's now 22, a senior majoring in entomology at the University of California, Davis, and an outstanding student researcher in the laboratory of UC Davis Distinguished Professor Jay Rosenheim of the Department of Entomology and Nematology. And she's just accepted a four-year, full-ride fellowship offer to a PhD program at the American Museum of Natural History to join the systematics laboratory of Dr. Jessica Ware.
RJ, who studies those bizarre Strepsiptera endoparasites that attack their hosts, the Ammophila (thread-waisted) wasps, spent two years at the Bohart Museum of Entomology studying the specimens. As larvae, members of the order Strepsiptera, known as “twisted wings,” enter their hosts, including wasps and bees, through joints or sutures.
The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million specimens, houses “about 30,000 specimens of Ammophila from multiple continents,” says director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology. Global wasp authority and UC Davis alumnus Arnold Menke (he studied for his 1965 doctorate with Professor Richard Bohart) identified most of them. Menke's publication, "The Ammophila of North and Central America (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae)” is the bible of Ammophila research.
But back to what children want to be when they grow up. Usually they say cowboy, truck driver, cook, teacher, dancer, actor, musician, artist, athlete, firefighter, detective, writer, police officer, astronaut, pilot, veterinarian, lawyer, doctor and the like.
But rarely "entomologist," the scientific study of insects.
RJ's enthusiasm toward insects is highly contagious. (Read more about her in this news feature.)
'I Wanna Be an Entomologist'
Back in 2011 we were delighted to see UC Davis Regents Scholar Heather Wilson, a researcher/lab technician in the Frank Zalom laboratory, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, create a fun-filled, innovative video, "I Wanna Be an Entomologist," a take-off of "I Wanna Be a Billionaire" from Travie McCoy's Lazarus album.
Heather entered her project in an Entomological Society of America (ESA) contest and won recognition.
In her video, she runs with an insect net, counts bugs in the Zalom lab, watches bees in a hive, and visits the Bohart Museum. At the Bohart, she hugs a display of butterflies and cradles a rose-haired tarantula and Madagascar hissing cockroach from its live "petting zoo."
"I wanna be an entomologist, so freakin' bad," Wilson sings.
"I wanna be on the cover
Of Economic Entomology
Smiling next to Frank and Jim Carey..."
"Frank and Jim" are Frank Zalom and James R. Carey, UC Davis distinguished professors in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. Zalom is a past president of the 7000-member ESA. Both are elected fellows.
Watch Heather Wilson's video at https://youtu.be/rwNbbJgXNXA and you'll probably decide being an entomologist sounds much more fun than being a billionaire. Who wants to be a billionaire, anyway? Let's go check out the insects!
The entomology line forms over there...don't crowd and don't cut in.
UC Davis integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Frank Zalom distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and research biologist Mysore "Sudhi" Sudarshana of the USDA's Agriculture Research Services (ARS), based in the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology, directed the eye-opening research.
Fast forward to today: It's just been announced that U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) has awarded a four-year, $3 million grant, "Ecobiology, Impact, and Management of Grapevine Red Blotch Virus and Its Vector(s) in California and Oregon Vineyards," to UC Davis scientists.
The grapevine red blotch virus is an urgent problem that threatens the $162 billion grape industry.
Now UC Davis scientists, in collaboration with UC Berkeley and Oregon State University researchers, are targeting the virus and its vector or vectors.
“Red blotch is a huge new problem for the grape industry, and this is the first large government grant to study it,” said project director Anita Oberholster, Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. “We will be working in partnership to take the first steps to understand the disease and develop sustainable management practices to support the grape industry.”
First identified in 2012, the disease affects grapevines of all varieties and is internationally present. Symptoms typically include red blotches on the leaves of red varieties, and pale green or pale yellow blotches on white varieties.
"Although our knowledge of red blotch virus and its spread has improved in the short period of time since it was first discovered, there are still many questions to be answered in order to understand its epidemiology and develop an effective management strategy," Zalom said. "For example, we need to understand mechanisms for how the virus affects grapevines, and if there are additional vectors."
In their successful grant application, the scientists wrote that grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV) is a prominent disease found in the majority of grape growing regions in California and Oregon. "The grape industry currently lacks best practices for detecting and preventing spread of GRBV within and among vineyards. The discovery of S. festinus as a vector of GRBV significantly increased the possibility of better understanding the epidemiology of GRBD and ultimately its management. However, GRBD spread also occurs in vineyards where S. festinus has not been found. Therefore, information on potential additional vector species in these regions is paramount."
"Replanted vineyards in California and Oregon have experienced reinfections and a better understanding on the prevalence of GRBV and assessment of risk factors are needed," they wrote. "Proposed research will address knowledge gaps involving the epidemiology of the virus as driven by studies on its vectors and determining how the disease affects grapevine performance and grape quality. The economic impact of GRBV infection on producers and nurseries will also be determined. Sustainable GRBV management strategies developed from the project will be implemented to enhance economic and social impacts and to reduce the impact on environment. This project brings together researchers, extension specialists and stakeholders from CA and OR to help solve a significant new problem facing this valuable specialty crops industry. Outreach activities will be extended to the other states and can thus impact the grape industry in the country."
(UC Davis News Service contributed to this piece)
"The spotted-wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, first invaded California in 2008," says UC Davis postdoctoral researcher Brian Gress, "and has since rapidly spread throughout North America and Europe."
Gress will discuss "Host Selection and Resistance Evolution in Drosophila Suzukii" at a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 9 in 122 Briggs Hall.
He will be introduced by his advisor, integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and a past president of the Entomological Society of America.
"The female D. suzukii possess a unique serrated ovipositor that allows them to cut into ripening fruit, causing major economic losses for berry and cherry producers across the globe," Gress writes in his abstract. "Growers rely heavily on the use of insecticides to control this pest, and spinosad is among the most important materials currently available for protecting susceptible host crops."
Recent reports, however, "have raised concerns that the efficacy of this insecticide is declining in fields near Watsonville, Calif., a major hub of commercial berry production in the United States," Gress says. "In this seminar, I will present a series of studies aimed at assessing the degree of resistance in the population, the evolutionary potential for resistance to increase, and novel strategies for managing resistance in the field."
The spotted-wing drosophila, a major agricultural pest, damages fruit in many California counties, according to the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Program (UC IPM). "The males have a black spot toward the top of each wing. The females have not spots. They have "a very prominent, sawlike ovipositor for laying eggs in fruit."
Gress joined the Zalom lab in January 2017. He lists his research aims as
- understand the evolutionary processes and genetic mechanisms that give rise to insecticide resistance in agricultural pests;
- develop sustainable and cost-effective strategies for managing agricultural pests by disrupting insect mating behavior and reproductive physiology; and
- assess population dynamics and demography of wild insect populations in the field.
Gress holds bachelor of science degrees in biology and psychology, magna cum laude, from Iowa State University, Ames (2011), and a doctorate in biological science from Syracuse (N.Y.) University (2016).
At Syracuse, Gress received the 2016 Alexander Gourevitch Memorial Award, in recognition of research excellence; and the 2016 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Dissertation Award. In 2015 he was awarded a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant of $19,050.