When you first meet Brandon DeGroot, 6, of Vallejo, he'll tell you "I love spiders and snakes" and he'll flash a big smile.
He's the kind of youngster that arachnologists, including Professor Eileen Hebets of the University of Nebraska and Professor Jason Bond, of the University of California, Davis, welcome to their fold.
Bond, associate dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is chairing the American Arachnological Society's meeting June 26-30 at UC Davis with Lisa Chamberland, postdoctoral research associate, Department of Entomology and Nematology, and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.
An open house, "Eight-Legged Encounters," set from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 25 at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, will kick off the conference. Hebets is co-hosting it as part of a U.S. National Science Foundation grant, “Eight-Legged Encounters,” that she developed as an outreach project to connect arachnologists with communities, especially youth. It's free, open to the public, and family friendly.
The open house promises to be one of the biggest events--if not the leggiest!--of the year on the UC Davis campus and beyond. A powerhouse of arachnologists, Bond said, will be at the open house. “There will be everything--spider specimens, live arachnids, activities, artwork, etc."
Some 20 exhibits and activities will be set up in the hallway of the Academic Surge Building, said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. A popular activity at the Bohart is its live petting zoo, comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches or "hissers," stick insects and tarantulas. Youths, especially, delight in holding the hissers and stick insects.
But back to Brandon.
"Brandon has always loved spiders, insects and snakes, starting when he was a toddler looking for bugs in our yard," said his mother, Heather DeGroot. "Brandon was always in the dirt, and my other son, Mason, now 8, was always in the grass." Last Tuesday, June 7, while Heather kept busy coordinating the Solano County Fair exhibits at McCormack Hall, in preparation for the June 16-19 fair, Brandon kept busy looking for critters outside. When he'd find one, he'd excitedly announce his treasure, and even more excitedly, show it to all.
So, in between his bug hunts, we thought we'd interview Brandon.
Bug Squad: "How old are you?
Brandon: "I'm six and I go to kindergarten at Vallejo Charter School. I'm almost in the first grade." (He graduated from kindergarten June 9.)
Bug Squad: "Brandon, how long have you loved spiders and snakes?"
Brandon: "A long time."
Bug Squad: "Cool! Why do you love spiders?"
Brandon: "I like the poison and how they eat."
Bug Squad: "What do you want to be when you grow up, Brandon?"
Brandon: "I want to be a scientist about animals. See my snake tattoo on my arm?" (He displayed the washable tattoo that tattoo artist Jason Meyers of Concord created just for him.)
Bug Squad: "Fantastic! What makes you happy?"
Bug Squad: "Does your brother Mason like snakes and spiders?"
Brandon: "No, he only likes BMX." (Mason will be competing as part of Team USA at a BMX competition in Nance, France in July. The entire family will be there to support him.)
Bug Squad: "Why doesn't Mason like spiders and snakes?"
Brandon: "He doesn't want to get hurt by them."
Bug Squad: "Do you like bees?"
Brandon: "I like bees. They pollinate the flowers and make them change colors. I like ladybugs and I like letting them crawl on me. I like walking sticks. I saw them on YouTube and they look just like sticks."
Bug Squad: "Do you like ants?"
Brandon: "I like ants but I don't like fire ants." (He sees fire ants on family trips to Houston, Texas.)
Bug Squad: "Do you like butterflies?"
Brandon: "I like them because of their colors."
Bug Squad: "Do you like dragonflies?"
Brandon: "I like how fast they fly and they nibbled on my family at the Yuba River but they didn't nibble on me."
Bug Squad: "Brandon, do you like sports or play sports?"
Brandon: "I played basketball and I'm going to learn to play tennis."
Bug Squad: "Do you like girls?"
Brandon (raising his eyebrows): "No, I like dogs."
Bug Squad: "Do you have a dog?"
Bug Squad: What's your favorite food?"
Brandon: "Strawberries and chocolate."
And with that, he opened his lunch box, picked out a strawberry, and shared it with a bug that he had just collected in the McCormack Hall gardens.
"Here you go," Brandon told the bug, later identified by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, as an aphid. "I'm feeding you so you won't get hungry."
That would be forensic entomologist Robert "Bob" Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
You'll learn how important entomology is in forensic investigations, you can chat with Dr. Bob, and you can look at some of his collections.
Kimsey wears a number of hats. He's the master advisor of the Animal Biology major; an assistant adjunct professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and the faculty chair of the department's Picnic Day. He's also the advisor to the UC Davis Entomology Club and that includes guiding students to such venues as Alcatraz Island to see the flies and other insects. (See The Fly Man of Alcatraz)
Known as an outstanding teacher, advisor and mentor, Kimsey won the 2020 top faculty academic advising award from the international NACADA, the “global community for academic advising.”
Kimsey is also a 2019 winner of a faculty advising award from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Eleanor and Harry Walker Advising Awards. He previously won the UC Davis Outstanding Faculty Advising Award, and the Distinction in Student Mentoring Award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America.
Bob Kimsey's teaching philosophy: "I think that humans learn best together, where one person demonstrates the process or disseminates the knowledge to solve a problem to another person, and then together they solve the problem. The problem may be proximal and practical or abstract and conceptual. Following instruction, the teacher may participate with groups of students to solve problems, and there exist many other variations on teaching that adhere to this simple theme. But the principal components remain the same: demonstration or dissemination of knowledge followed by cooperative application. This is likely the most ancient of teaching concepts, and to the extent recent innovations in teaching method return to this simple process and replace simple lecturing, it continues to be the most effective."
Known for expertly guiding students toward career paths, and helping them meet challenges and overcome obstacles, Kimsey draws such unsolicited accolades on Rate My Professors as:
- “Dr. Kimsey is by far one of the best professors at UC Davis. His class never fails to entertain! You do need to put in the work to do well but it is very worth it! Dr. Kimsey truly cares about his students and wants to see them succeed and find a path that best suits them. Strongly recommend!”
- "This was the best class I've taken at UC Davis. You can tell that Dr. Kimsey really cares, and puts a lot of effort into his class.”
The campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day is free and open to the public. Kimsey's booth is an integral part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's insect-related displays and activities, set from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Briggs Hall. You'll see everything from Roach Races to Maggot Art (also think medical, forest and agricultural entomology). Check out the line-up.
Over at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, Lynn Kimsey, a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, serves as the director. (Yes, the Kimseys are husband and wife.) The Bohart Museum displays will be at the east entrance of the Academic Surge Building. Scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Bohart displays will center on the state insect, the California Dogface Butterfly; monarchs; and the student-created traveling display exhibits.
What's a picnic without bugs?
Lamberti received his bachelor's degree in entomology, with high honors, in 1975 from UC Davis, and his doctorate in entomological sciences in 1983 from UC Berkeley, where he wrote his dissertation on "Interactions among Herbivorous Insects, Algae, and Bacteria in a Geothermally Influenced Stream."
"I have wonderful memories of UC Davis, which really started me off on my path to entomology and then aquatic science, but always with a fondness for insects," Lamberti related in a recent email. "All of my entomology professors were great, but individuals that I distinctly remember include Warren Cothran for insect ecology (which convinced me switch from zoology to entomology), Les Ehler for insect classification (urged me to go to Berkeley for my PhD), Norman Gary for insect behavior (great teacher), Robbin Thorp for insect physiology (and my advisor), and of course, Richard Bohart for insect systematics (tough, but kind). I can definitely say that my time at UC Davis and in the entomology department (I practically lived in Briggs Hall) was the formative period of my life."
"I think I was a junior when I had to take an ecology course for my major and got popped into Warren Cothran's insect ecology course of more than 100 students, which I loved mostly because of him. Well, some time during the quarter he casually said to us: 'If anyone wants to come out to the alfalfa field where I do my insect research, let me know.' Well, the next day I showed up at his office and said 'When can we go?' I think he was stunned because no one ever took him up on it. But sure enough, he said 'Okay, let's go tomorrow.' So we went out there with nets and swept the field for insects, and he explained what was going on to me. He was just inspirational, and later that semester I switched my major to entomology."
Lamberti shared a photo of a 1975 entomology class taught by Thorp. (See below.) The all-male students are displaying their collections. Entomology students then were predominately male, a sign of the times, he noted. Another sign of the times, as depicted in the photo: "Short shorts and a whole lot of moustaches."
The international award, presented annually, recognizes those who significantly advance the scientific understanding freshwater science. The honor is a highlight of Lamberti's 40-year career.
Lamberti, a Fellow of SFS, served as SFS president in 1997. He joined the University of Notre Dame faculty in 1989 as an assistant professor, advanced to associate professor in 1995, and to professor in 2000. He chaired the department from 2008 to 2014. (See CV)
Lamberti, the Rev. Julius A. Nieuwland Professor of Aquatic Science, has co-edited Methods in Stream Ecology, authored more than 200 publications, and mentored 30 graduate students "and countless undergraduates in his laboratory."
And it all began at UC Davis.
Or "B" is for Biodiversity Museum Day.
You, no doubt, saw the stick insects, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and millipedes. And you may have handled them. Scores of children--and many adults--asked to touch or hold them.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, shared a booth at the Conference Center with the laboratory of Jason Bond, who is the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Arthropods from the Bond lab also included a scorpion and a trapdoor spider. The Bohart displayed a number of specimens, including the state insect, the California dogface butterfly, and the Asian giant hornet (nicknamed "murder hornet" by the news media.)
Some 1300 visitors checked out the displays, staffed by scientists from 11 museums or collections on campus:
- Arboretum and Public Garden
- UC Davis Bee Haven
- Bohart Museum of Entomology
- Botanical Conservatory
- California Raptor Center
- Center for Plant Diversity
- Department of Anthropology Museum
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology
- Nematode Collection
- Paleontology Collection
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection
This was the first year the free, science-based event has been held exposition-style in one facility. A special feature: side trips to several of the museums or collections.
Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon periodically escorted tours from the Conference Center to the Bohart Museum located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building. Currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions, the Bohart houses a global collection of eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas) and an insect-themed gift shop (now online).
(Editor's Note: More coverage pending)
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.