It's finals week at the University of California, Davis, and what a great opportunity to take time to de-stress...with bugs!
Wade Spencer, entomology student and associate at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, says that students studying in the UC Davis LGBTQUIA Resource Center at 397 Hutchison Drive on Tuesday, March 19, will be sharing their space with bugs, including Coco McFluffin, a Chaco golden knee tarantula that makes its home in the Bohart Museum of Entomology. The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens--AND a live petting zoo of dozens of critters, ranging from Madagascar hissing cockroaches to stick insects to tarantulas.
Billed as the "Finals-Week Bug Meet-n-Greet De-Stressor," the event takes place from noon to 1 p.m. in partnership with LGBTQUIA and the Bohart Museum.
The visitors include Coco McFluffin, Lucy the Gooty and Captain Mar-Vel. Here's who's on tap:
- Thorny Walking Sticks: https://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Aretaon
- Australian Stick Insects: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extatosoma_tiaratum
- Vietnamese Stick Insects: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medauroidea_extradentata
- Giant Cave Cockroaches: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaberus_giganteus
- Chaco Golden Knee Tarantula (Coco McFluffin): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammostola_pulchripes
- Western Black Widow (Karen): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latrodectus_hesperus
- Multi-colored Centipede (Sebastian): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scolopendra_polymorpha
- Desert Hairy Scorpion (Celeste): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadrurus_arizonensis
- Asian Forest Scorpion (Scotty): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterometrus
- African Yellow-Legged Burrowing Scorpion (yet unnamed): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opistophthalmus_glabrifrons
- Sapphire Gooty Tarantula (Lucy the Gooty): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poecilotheria_metallica#Description
- And...Wade Spencer's tiny Arizona burrowing scorpion (Captain Mar-Vel): "I don't know the scientific name of her yet and can't seem to find any info online. But she's cute and tiny!"
"It should be noted," Spencer said, "that the only venomous arthropod that will be up for touching/holding will be Coco."
The UC Davis Entomology Alumni Reunion is set Sunday, March 31 through Tuesday, April 2 at the Odd Fellows Hall, 415 2nd St., Davis.
Co-chairing the event are Will Crites and Arnold Menke.
Forensic entomologist and adjunct professor Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will keynote the banquet on Tuesday, April 2 in the Odd Fellows Hall. He is known as "The Fly Man of Alcatraz" for his entomological research on the island. (See news story.) Kimsey serves as the advisor of the UC Davis Entomology Club.
The participants will tour several campus facilities, including the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, and the Shrem Museum of Art.
Sunday, March 31 is the day of arrival, with the meet-and-green room at the Odd Fellows Hall open.
Some of the reunion highlights:
Monday, April 1
8:45 a.m.: Campus bus tour with Aggie Ambassadors; destinations include West Village and Honda House
1 to 2:45 p.m.: Tour of Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Museum of Art, and Robert Mondavi Center
2:45 p.m.: Tour of Honey and Pollination Center at Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science (RMI), with a presentation by Clare Hasler-Lewis, founding executive director of RMI
2:30 to 5:30: Meet-and-Greet Room at Odd Fellows Hall
5:30 p.m.: Banquet dinner served, Odd Fellows Hall
6:30 p.m.: Dinner talk from forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey on the Alcatraz project
Tuesday, April 2
8:45 to 9:45 a.m.: Tour Bohart Museum of Entomology with director Lynn Kimsey, senior museum scientist Steve Heydon and education and outreach coordinator Tabatha Yang
10 a.m.: Tour of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility
10:15 to 11 a.m.: Undergraduate Alcatraz Island Project by forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and students
11 to 11:45 a.m.: Presentation on Africanized Honey Bees and Colony Collapse Disorder by bee scientist Brian Johnson, associate professor
11:45-12:30 p.m: Tour of Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven with Chris Casey, manager
Reservations must be made by Sunday, March 24 with Carrie Cloud, director of programs and events, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-2120.
And that's just a small portion of what they do.
And what a difference they're making!
Four UC Davis entomologists won awards from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA). They will be honored at the PBESA conference set for March 31-April 2 in San Diego.
Molecular geneticist/physiologist Joanna Chiu won the Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology Award; pollination ecologist Neal Williams, the Plant-Insect Ecosystems Award; doctoral candidate Brendon Boudinot, the John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award, the highest PBESA graduate student award; and UC Davis doctoral graduate Jessica Gillung, the Early Career Award.
Joanna Chiu is a newly selected Chancellor's Fellow, a five-year prestigious honor given to what Chancellor Gary May calls “prolific scholars, strong teachers, effective mentors and dedicated contributors to campus whose work is novel, unique and cutting-edge, groundbreaking and pathbreaking.”
Chiu investigates the regulation of animal circadian rhythms in her laboratory by using a combination of molecular genetics, biochemical, genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic approaches. Her overall research goal: to dissect the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control the circadian clock in animals, and to investigate how this endogenous timer interacts with the environment and cellular metabolism to drive rhythms of physiology and behavior.
Among the insects she studies: the spotted-wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii.
"She has published a considerable amount on the spotted-wing drosophila, including its annotated genome, resistance studies, molecular basis of the so-called ‘winter morphs that are found in colder areas, and a molecular diagnostic for quickly providing species identification for all stages of this pest to distinguish it from other common Drosophila species," said emeritus Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and a past president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America.
"I can honestly say that in my 40 years on the faculty at UC Davis and earlier at the University of Minnesota, I have
never had the opportunity to work with a more collaborative and energetic early career scientist than Dr. Chiu," Zalom said.
Chiu, along with Professor Jay Rosenheim and associate professor Louie Yang of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, are co-founders and co-directors of the highly successful, campuswide Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology. She helps students conduct cutting-edge research and provides guidance and advice, even after they have embarked on their own careers. Under her tutelage, many of her students are first authors of publications in prestigious journals.
Neal Williams "is widely known and respected for his excellence in research, extension, outreach, teaching, leadership and mentoring," said nominator Steve Nadler, chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology. “He is a leading voice in the development of collaborative research on insect ecology. He has organized national and international conferences, leads scores of working groups, and guides reviews of impacts of land use and other global change drivers on insects and the services they provide.”
Williams focuses his research on the ecology and evolution of bees and other pollinator insects and their interactions with flowering plants. His work is particularly timely given concern over the global decline in bees and other pollinators.
Research entomologist James P. Strange of USDA's Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory at Utah State University, describes Williams as “a valuable resource and prolific scientist in pollination biology and pollinator management. His papers are the result of collaborations with leaders in pollinator ecology, behavior and management and have been cited over 13,000 times during his career. His work has unraveled several questions central to plant-pollinator interactions, especially illuminating our understanding of the impacts of landscape resources on pollinator populations.”
In July, Williams will co-chair the Fourth International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy at UC Davis. The four-day conference, themed “Multidimensional Solutions to Current and Future Threats to Pollinator Health,” will highlight recent research advances in the biology and health of pollinators, and link to policy implications.
Williams is also organizing a symposium at the PBESA's San Diego meeting in April on the lifelong contributions of native pollinator specialist, Robbin Thorp, UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology. Nine scientists influenced by Thorp and his research program will speak.
Brendon Boudinot, who studies with ant specialist/professor Phil Ward, was praised for his academic record, leadership, public service activities, participation in professional activities, and his 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,” Nadler wrote.
Ward said that Boudinot, despite being at an early stage of his academic career, has already published several landmark papers on insect systematics. "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 PBESA and ESA, Boudinot received multiple “President's Prize” awards for his research presentations at national ESA 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.
Boudinot has served as president of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association since 2006, and is active in the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day; he has co-chaired the department's Picnic Day Committee since 2017.
Jessica Gillung studied for her doctorate with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology. “Dr. Gillung has made outstanding contributions to entomology, shown commitment to extension or outreach, and excelled in entomological education,” Kimsey wrote in her letter of nomination. “In one word: she is ‘phenomenal.'"
Gillung most recently won the “Best Student Presentation Award” at the ninth annual International Congress of Dipterology, held in Windhoek, Namibia, and the 2018 PBESA Student Leadership Award. Her dissertation was titled: “Systematics and Phylogenomics of Spider Flies (Diptera, Acroceridae).”
Kimsey praised her phenomenal leadership activities, her nearly straight-A academic record (3.91 grade point average), her excellence as an entomologist and teacher, and her incredible publication record. “Note that she has 11 refereed publications on her thesis organisms in very strong journals,” Kimsey wrote. “Most entomologists do not publish nearly that much, even as a postdoctoral scholar or a junior faculty member!”
"Not only is Jessica's research on the cutting edge of the field of phylogenomics but--and this is where leadership comes in--she has taken it upon herself to involve and train other graduate students in the same cutting-edge techniques and theoretical framework," Kimsey said. "She is a dynamo--brilliant and high energy, but also constantly teaching."
A native of Brazil, Gillung speaks four languages fluently: Portuguese, Spanish, English and German. While at UC Davis, Gillung was active in PBESA and ESA, presenting a number of presentations and serving on award-winning Linnaean Games teams. In outreach programs, she reached at least 20,000 people encompassing all events from 2013 to 2018. This included open houses, off-site programs, science presentations, summer camps, classroom activities, UC Davis Picnic Days, agriculture days, and fairs and festivals.
As a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University in the Bryan Danforth lab, Gillung is researching Apoidea (stinging wasps and bees) phylogenomics, evolution and diversification.
PBESA Award Recipients
The complete list of PBESA recipients:
- CW Woodworth: Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Riverside.
- PBESA Award for Excellence in Teaching: Allan Felsot, Washington State University
- PBESA Award for Excellence in Extension: Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension
- PBESA Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management: Silvia Rondon, Oregon State University
- PBESA Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity Award: Christiane Weirauch, UC Riverside
- PBESA Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology Award: Joanna Chiu, UC Davis
- PBESA Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology Award: Rebecca Maguire, Washington State University
- PBESA Plant-Insect Ecosystems Award: Neal Williams, UC Davis
- PBESA Distinction in Student Mentoring Award: Gerhard Gries, Simon Frazier University, British Columbia
- PBESA Excellence in Early Career Award: Jessica Gillung, UC Davis
- John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award: Brendon Boudinot, UC Davis
- PBESA Student Leadership Award: Kelsey McCalla, UC Riverside
PBESA is one of six branches of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Founded in 1889, ESA is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and individuals in related disciplines. It is comprised of more than 7000 members, who are affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, pest management professionals, and hobbyists.
But have you heard of the "Eight-Legged Wonders?"
You won't want to miss the "Eight-Legged Wonders" open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, March 9 at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis.
If you miss it, you'll miss your opportunity to learn about spiders from an international expert, and miss the opportunity to "Assemble an Arachnid," "Create a Chelicerate" and "Eat Like a Spider."
Eat like a spider? Tabatha Yang, Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator, related you'll get to “slurp up soggy cookies.”
The event, free and family friendly, takes place primarily in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
Arachnid expert Jason Bond, who is the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will present a 10-minute slide show at 1 p.m. in the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology classroom, located on the first floor of the Academic Surge Building, next to the Bohart Museum.
You'll see live specimens and specimens in alcohol. You'll learn the differences between woolly silk and sticky silk. You'll also see the Bohart arachnids--tarantulas--and hold some of the non-arachnids, including walking sticks and Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
“Spiders are an incredibly diverse group with more than 50,000 species described with probably another 200,000 remaining to yet be discovered,” says Bond, who joined the department last July from Auburn University, Alabama. “They are quite ancient, with fossils dating back well over 300 million year and are known to be exclusively predatory. In fact, based on a study published last year, spiders are estimated to consume somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 million tons of insect biomass.”
“To capture insects, and other prey item--sometimes even vertebrates--most spiders employ silk and venom to snare and subdue their victims,” the arachnologist says. “Spider silk is an amazingly strong, proteinaceous material that is produced in many different forms; venoms are likewise complex, diverse proteins. All of this to say – what's not to like – spiders are a tremendously ecological important predatory group, that has persisted on the planet for 100s of millions of years and employ a remarkable suite of silks and venoms to make a living.”
Highly respected for his expertise on spiders, Bond served as the plenary keynote speaker at the 2016 International Arachnological Congress, and also keynoted the 2012 European Arachnological Congress.
Born in Johnson City, Tenn., Bond is a U.S. Army veteran who served for a number of years as a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew chief. He received his bachelor's degree in biological sciences, cum laude, in 1993 from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, and his master's degree in biology in 1995 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg. He earned his doctorate in evolutionary systematics and genetics in 1999 from Virginia Tech.
All three degrees focused on arachnids. His undergraduate thesis involved silk spigots; his master's degree, systematics of the spider genera Mallos and Mexitlia; and his doctoral dissertation covered “Systematics and Evolution of the Californian Trapdoor Spider Genus Aptostichus Simon (Araneae: Mygalomorphae: Cyrtaucheniidae).”
What drew him to arachnology? As an undergraduate researcher at Western Carolina University, Bond worked with noted arachnologists Jackie Palmer and Fred Coyle. “My first research project was related to functional morphology (evolution of the spinning apparatus in more primitive spiders) but quickly shifted to systematics and taxonomy.”
Bond joined the UC Davis faculty after a seven-year academic career at Auburn University, Ala. He served as professor of biology and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences from January 2016 to July 2018, and as curator of arachnids and myriapods (centipedes, millipedes, and related animals) at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, from August 2011 to July 2018.
It was at Auburn University where Bond and his colleagues discovered a new species of trapdoor spider that drew international attention and a news story in the Huffington Post. They named it Myrmekiaphilia tigris, or the Auburn Tiger Trapdoor Spider, in honor of the university's costumed tiger mascot, Aubie. The discovery was exciting but not “surprising,” Bond told the Huffington Post, pointing out that it took taxonomists about 250 years to describe about 1.8 million plants and animals, and that this scratches the surface of what scientists estimate to be between five and 30 million overall species on earth.
The amazing eight-legged wonders!
No, not yet?
You can enroll in classes at the University of California, Davis, to learn how to keep bees and how to work your colonies.
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will be teaching beekeeping classes with her colleagues. beginning Saturday, March 23.
Participants will have the opportunity to learn about--and practice--many aspects of what's necessary to get the colony started and keep it healthy and thriving, Niño said. At the end of the course, participants will be knowledgeable about installing honey bee packages, monitoring their own colonies. and possibly challenges with maintaining a healthy colony.
Lecture modules will cover honey bee biology, beekeeping equipment, how to start your colony, and maladies of the hive.
Practical modules will cover how to build a hive, how to install a package, inspecting your hive and monitoring for varroa mites.
The course is limited to 25 participants. Participants should bring their bee suit/veil if they have one. The $95 registration fee covers the cost of course materials (including a hive tool), lunch and refreshments. The last day to register is Friday, March 22.
Working Your Colonies
A separate course on "Working Your Colonies" will take place on Sunday, March 24. This is an all-day course from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. The last day to register is Friday, March 22.
Participants will have the opportunity to learn about--and practice--many aspects of what is necessary to maintain a healthy colony and exploit products of the hive.
Lecture modules will cover advanced honey bee biology, honey bee integrated pest management (IPM) and products of the hive. Practical models will cover queen wrangling, honey extraction and splitting/combining colonies, and monitoring for varroa mite
The $150 registration fee covers the cost of course materials, lunch and refreshments. Participants should bring their bee suit/veil if they have one.