"Her" is aquatic entomologist Sharon Lawler of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, now a professor emerita.
Lawler retired in January after a 28-year career at UC Davis, but was cleaning out her office and lab recently and took time to answer a few questions.
She is known as a “A dedicated teacher and mentor, an aquatic insect expert, a role model, and a compassionate human being.”
Although an emerita, she's still mentoring students and doing research.
“Sharon always put the needs of students first,” said longtime colleague, UC Distinguished Professor Richard “Rick” Karban, a community ecologist in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. “She was focused on what they needed from her rather than the other way around. In the department, she did more than her fair share of student-centric tasks. She was committed to accommodating and including the diverse circumstances of students before that was on many people's radars. Co-teaching community ecology with Sharon for 28 years, I learned a lot about science and even more about how to treat other people with compassion.”
“One incident that stands out for me,” Karban recalled, “is a time that we were walking back to Briggs Hall from teaching on the east side of campus. “Near the Memorial Union, we saw someone who was having a bad trip. He was yelling, waving his arms, and stumbling around. My reaction was to get away from the guy in case he was dangerous. Instead, Sharon went over to him to see if she could help. She stayed and talked with him to make sure he was okay.”
Richard Kim, a doctoral candidate whom she co-advises (with Professor Marissa Baskett, Department of Environmental Science and Policy), describes Lawler as “an amazing researcher and an outstanding role-model as a supervisor; joining her lab was one of the best decisions I've made in life.”
Kim, who holds a master's degree in biology from San Francisco State University (2017), commented: “Sharon has been advising my projects related to predator-prey relationships between the imperiled giant garter snakes and non-native bullfrogs: (1) experimental feeding trials and (2) mark-recapture surveying in the field. We are currently working to prepare manuscripts that will inform conservation strategies for the snakes by alternative controlling strategies for bullfrogs. Throughout my graduate school experience, Sharon provided not only academic guidance but also sincere advice and support during my personal and health difficulties. She truly is one of the role models I have in life, as a scientist and as a P.I. (principal investigator).
See the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology feature story here and more images.
Nematologist Shahid Siddique, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, wrote in the comments: "Sharon's retirement marks the end of an era for our Entomology and Nematology Department. Not only has she been an outstanding colleague, but also a dear friend to many of us. Sharon's compassion and willingness to help have always stood out. When I joined the department during the challenging times of COVID-19, it was Sharon who ensured I was settling in well. Her invaluable assistance played a very important role in helping me establish myself in Davis. We will deeply miss her presence, but her legacy of kindness and support will undoubtedly live on. Wishing Sharon all the best in her well-deserved retirement."
Thank you, Professor Emerita Sharon Lawler!
The theme: Bugs, Boom, Bang!
"We had over 1500 people through the museum in just 4 hours," said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator.
UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum, and her crew--all wearing newly designed "Tardigrades in Space" t-shirts--displayed specimens and live insects; chatted with visitors; and answered scores of questions between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 15.
Tardigrades, also called "water bears" or "moss piglets," are microscopic animals found everywhere on earth, from the deep sea to rainforests, and they can even survive in space, Kimsey noted. The Bohart Museum maintains one of the world's largest collections of tardigrades; it includes more than 35,000 glass slide-mounted specimens "and many more on dried materials." A tardigrade sculpture, the work of artist Solomon Bassoff of Faducci LLC, North San Juan, Calif., graces the entrance to the Bohart Museum, located in the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, including a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, tarantulas and other species; and a year-around gift shop, stocked with insect-themed t-shirts, hoodies, jewelry, posters, books and collecting equipment. The newest T-shirt is the "Tardigrades in Space," designed by entomologist Fran Kelly, professor at Folsom Lake College and a UC Davis doctoral alumna, is now available in the gift shop.
The next open houses (all free and family friendly) are:
- Ants! Sunday, May 21 from 1 to 4 p.m., featuring the Phil Ward ant lab of UC Davis. Professor Ward is an internationally known myrmecologist.
- Insects and Forensics, Saturday, June 3 from 1 to 4 p.m., featuring UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey.
- Night at the Museum, Saturday, July 22, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., featuring moths and blacklighting displays.
More information is available on the website at https://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youngsters--and the young at heart--headed over to Briggs Hall during the 109th annual campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day to create art masterpieces--masterpieces involving maggots.
Using forceps, the artists dipped a maggot in water-based, non-toxic paint and let it crawl around a piece of white paper. Or they guided it. Different color? Different maggot dipped in a different paint.
What a conversation piece! And perfect for framing or posting on a refrigerator door.
Maggot Art has been a traditional part of the UC Davis Picnic Day since the early 2000s.
Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student of UC Davis forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey's, coined the educational teaching curriculum, "Maggot Art," back in 2001 when she was studying at the University of Hawaii. She was rearing blowflies for her forensic research and wanted an activity to draw the interest of elementary school students. She also wanted to generate interest and respect for forensic entomology.
Her Maggot Art quickly drew national interest. The CSI television show featured one of her works, “Ancient Offering,” which hung on the permanent set in Gil Grissom's office.O'Flaherty also exhibited her work at art shows, including a two-month exhibition at the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento, in 2007.
And the maggots at the 2023 UC Davis Picnic Day? "The maggots are Calliphora vacinia, the blue bottle fly," Kimsey said. "Realize that there are likely close to 100 species that can be called blue bottle flies. This particular one is very large as an adult and has huge larvae that are perfect for Maggot Art."
"Although at certain times of the year, it is active in California, particularly around cities, it is not as common as others and I do not have a colony," Kimsey added. "There has been a lot of very famous research in entomology done on this species, particularly at University of Massachusetts and Harvard under Vincent Dethier, whose research has provided profound insights into human biology."
The Department of Entomology and Nematology ordered the maggots from Knutson's Sporting Goods, an Internet purveyor based in Brooklyn, Mich., which sells them as live fish bait and as research tools.
Or Maggot Art....
Ask it at the "Doctor Is In" bug booth at Briggs Hall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 15 during the 109th annual UC Davis Picnic Day.
The "docs" are two entomologists: doctoral candidate Zachary "Zach" Griebenow and doctoral student Ziv Lieberman. They study ants with major professor Phil Ward, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Want to identify an insect or learn more about it? Bring the insect and/or a photo and they'll answer your questions. Briggs Hall is located off Kleiber Hall Drive.
Griebenow, who joined the Ward lab in 2017, was a member of the UC Davis Linnaean Games team (now renamed the Entomology Games) that won two national championships (2018 and 2022) at the Entomological Society of America (ESA) meetings. He also was a member of Ohio State's Linnaean Games team that won second place in the 2017 national championship.
ESA describes The Games as a "fast-paced, college-bowl style contest in which students from various colleges and universities test their knowledge by answering questions on insect science. Students compete first at the regional branch level, and then the winning teams compete each year at the national level at ESA's Annual Meeting."
By the way, Griebenow will present his exit seminar at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, April 19 in 122 Briggs Hall on "Systematic Revision of the Ant Subfamily Leptanillinae (Hymenoptera:Formicidae), Reciprocally Illuminated by Phylogenomics and Morphology." (See more on the Department of Entomology and Nematology website.) His presentation also will be virtual.
Lieberman joined the Ward lab in the fall of 2020. Published research includes Revision of the Highly Specialized Ant Genus Discothyrea (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Afrotropics with X-Ray Microtomography and 3D Cybertaxonomy (journal of Insect Systematics and Diversity).
Forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, and doctoral student Grace Horne of the lab of urban landscape entomologist Emily Meineke are coordinating the department's Picnic Day activities. Briggs Hall activities will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The open house at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. See schedule of insect activities, including Roach Races and Maggot Art, on Bug Squad blog.
The Bohart will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The location: Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
The Bohart Museum, the seventh largest insect collection in North America, houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens. Plus, it features a live "petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects (walking sticks), tarantulas and many more. You'll meet Princess Herbert, a Brazilian salmon-pink bird-eating tarantula; Peaches, a Chilean rose hair tarantula; CocoMcFluffin, aChaco golden knee tarantula; and a Vietnamese centipede named Beatrice. Research associate Brittany Kohler serves as "the zookeeper."
The Bohart Museum also provides an insect-theme gift shop, stocked with books, posters, jewelry, t-shirts, hoodies and collecting equipment.
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946 by the late professor Richard Bohart, is directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, who received her doctorate in 1976 from UC Davis, studying with Bohart.
Entomological activities at Briggs Hall will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (See Bug Squad)
Here's a video created by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences that offers a quick look at the Bohart.