- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
John Henry Comstock would be proud.
At each annual meeting, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) presents the prestigious John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award to six outstanding graduate students, one from each branch of the ESA.
Eminent entomologist Comstock (1849-1931) is widely acclaimed for his research on scale insects and butterflies and moths, providing the basis for systematic classifications. For most of his career, he was a member of the faculty of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. He also saw service as a chief entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
So it was great to see "entomologist extraordinaire," doctoral candidate and ant specialist Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab, University of California, Davis, receive the Pacific Branch's Comstock Award at ESA's recent meeting in St. Louis, Mo. The Pacific Branch encompasses 11 Western states, U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
ESA president Robert Peterson, a professor at Montana State University, presented the award to Boudinot.
Boudinot excels in academics, leadership, public service activities, professional activities, and publications. “A highly respected scientist, teacher and leader with a keen intellect, unbridled enthusiasm, and an incredible penchant for public service, Brendon maintains a 4.00 grade point average; has published 12 outstanding publications on insect systematics (some are landmarks or ground-breaking publications); and engages in exceptional academic, student and professional activities,” wrote nominator Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Despite being at an early stage of his academic career, Boudinot has already published several landmark papers on insect systematics, wrote major professor Phil Ward. "This includes a remarkable article, just published in Arthropod Structure & Development, in which Brendon presents a comprehensive theory of genital homologies across all Hexapoda (Boudinot 2018). Based on careful comparative morphological study and conducted within a phylogenetic framework, this paper is a major contribution to the field and is destined to become a “classic." This could have been a decade-long study by any investigator, and yet it is just one chapter of Brendon's thesis!"
Active in ESA, Boudinot received multiple “President's Prize” awards for his research presentations at the national meetings. He organized the ESA symposium, “Evolutionary and Phylogenetic Morphology,” at the 2018 meeting in Vancouver, B.C. , and delivered a presentation on “Male Ants: Past, Present and Prospects” at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Boudinot served on—and anchored—three of the UC Davis Linnaean Games teams that won national or international ESA championships. The Linnaean Games are a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams. He also participated on the UC Linnaean Games Team this year in St. Louis.
An exemplary leader, Boudinot has served as president of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association since 2006, and is active in the UC Davis Picnic Day, which draws thousands of visitors to campus. He co-chaired the department's Picnic Day Committee for three years and also staffed the "Bug Doctor" booth, answering questions about arthropods.
More recently, Boudnot edited a special collection of articles (published Nov. 12) on “Current Techniques in Morphology” for the Entomological Society of America journal, Insect Systematics and Diversity (ISD). The work is publicized on EurekAlert! and the entire project can be accessed free online. Boudinot co-led the development of the collection with István Mikó, collections manager at the University of New Hampshire Department of Biological Sciences. For the year-long project. Boudinot and Mikó gathered articles illustrating cutting-edge research techniques in insect morphology and phylogenetics, including videos, interactive 3D images, and augmented reality. (See news story)
Five other UC Davis entomologists have received the Pacific Branch Comstock Award:
- 2015: Mohammad-Amir Aghaee (major professor, the late Larry Godfrey). He is now a research entomologist with Bayer Crop Science, Union City, Tenn.
- 2014: Kelly Hamby (major professor, Frank Zalom). She is now on the faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park.
- 2013: Matan Shelomi (major professor, Lynn Kimsey). He is now on the faculty of the National Taiwan University, Tapei.
- 2008: Christopher Barker (major professor, William Reisen). He is now on the faculty of the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
- 1983: Elaine Backus (major professor, the late Donald McLean). She is research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Parlier
Congrats, Brendon! Well done and well deserved!