As director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology (which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year), Kimsey identifies about 2000 insect specimens a year for colleagues, students, the museum and other museums. The Bohart curates some 30,000 new specimens to the museum annually.
A UC Davis alumnus (bachelor's degree and doctorate), Kimsey joined the entomology faculty in 1989. Since 1990, she has administered the Bohart Museum, which now houses some eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest university insect museum in North America.
Her areas of expertise? Insect biodiversity, systematics and biogeography of parasitic wasps, urban entomology, civil forensic entomology, and arthropod-related industrial hygiene. She has served in numerous leadership roles at the international, national and local level, including two terms as president of the International Hymenopterists, board member of the Natural Science Collections Alliance, and interim chair and vice chair (twice) of the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology).
Last year her peers selected her for the 2020 C. W. Woodworth Award, the highest honor given by the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America.
Take her page on Urban Myths on the Bohart Museum website where she dispels bizarre myths with a succinct dose of humor.
Such as the urban myth, "Female mantids always eat males they mate with." Her response: "Only if the male isn't fast enough!"
Urban myth: "Camel spiders scream like babies, inject toxins and prey on GI's in Iraq."
Kimsey reality: "Not true at any level."
Urban myth: "Twenty-five percent of the protein in our diet is from swallowing spiders that crawl in our mouth at night."
Kimsey reality: "This never happens."
Urban myth: "Love bugs that plague the southeastern U.S. are the result of government experiments."
Kimsey reality: "No, Mother Nature came up with those beauties."
Urban myth: "Ultrasonic devices help keep pests out of your kitchen."
Kimsey reality: "False, few insects can hear, certainly not cockroaches."
Urban myth: "Earwigs will crawl in your ear and lay eggs in your brain."
Kimsey reality: "They sometimes do crawl in ears by accident, but do not lay eggs."
Urban myth: "Bedbugs bore, burrow, dig and fly."
Kimsey reality: "No, they can only walk or scurry."
Urban myth: "Butterflies and moths can't fly if you rub the scales off their wings."
Kimsey reality: "Not true, they can fly."
The Bohart director also fields questions about spiders, including the urban myth that brown recluse spiders are "common in California." No, she says, "they are not found anywhere near California."
No doubt that Kimsey, known as "The Wasp Woman" for her expertise in Hymenoptera, soon will be targeting myths about those Asian giant hornets, aka "murder hornets," that are supposedly mass-targeting 328 million people in the United States.
“You're never too far away from a spider; a spider is always watching you," said Bond, who is the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "They are always there. There are lots of them on the planet. They're absolutely everywhere."
Yes, spiders are everywhere and there's even a spider-themed pencil case to be available soon in the Bohart Museum's online gift shop. Dozens of insect- and spider-themed gifts are already available, proceeds of which benefit the scientific and educational activities of the Bohart Museum.
The Bohart, home of a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens, houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity of the state's deserts, mountains, coast, and the Great Central Valley. It maintains one of the world's largest collections of tardigrades. (See Bug Squad blog.)
It also provides a live "petting zoo," comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas (in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus), but you can't see them now because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
The Bohart masks both feature the California state insect, the dogface butterfly. "There is a white one with the stylized, yellow dogface logo and then a dark blue with a logo in golden yellow (UC Davis colors)," Professor Keller said. The pencil cases also will be arriving soon, she added.
Said Professor Kimsey: “Your support enables us to fulfill our mission of documenting and supporting research in biodiversity, educating and inspiring others about insects, and providing state-of-the-art information to the community."
The Bohart officials have compiled gift ideas for all ages:
- Bohart t-shirts starting at size 2T
- Stuffed animals (the arthropod kind)
- Tardigrade backpack clip toy
- Toys from Insect Lore
- Insect net
- Edible insect snacks and candy
Gift ideas for tweens/teens:
- Hoodie with the California flag re-envisioned with a "water bear" (Tardigrade)
- Bohart T-shirts
- Beetle wing earrings
- Temporary tattoos
- Bohart sticker for water bottle/lap top/bike
- Collecting equipment
- Information on Bio Boot Camps, our summer camps for middle and high schoolers
Gift ideas for teachers:
- Mug with CA state insect
- Clever, instructional sticker for in-class spider removal
- Insect Lore models of life cycles
- Posters of California insects (dragonflies, State insects, Central Valley butterflies)
- Bohart book : The Story of the Dogface Butterfly (includes life cycle info and a civic-minded 4th grade class!)
- A one-hour, in-class insect presentation or an educational material loan (contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about this- some restrictions may apply)
Gift ideas for adults:
- Hand-turned, lathed pens
- Books (used and new)
- Note cards
- A net to catch insects
- Clever, instructional sticker for in-home spider removal
Gift ideas for college students:
- Hoodie with the California flag re-envisioned with a "water bear" (Tardigrade)
- Bohart sticker for water bottle/lap top/bike
- Insect collecting equipment
- Jewelry (everything from $1 to $36)
Folks can also donate to the effort of raising funds to purchase a large tardigarde (waterbear) sculpture in front of the museum. "This sculpture will advance the museum's educational role and will increase the museum's visibility," Kimsey said. See https://uk.gofundme.com/f/waterbear-sculpture.
So begins Marlin Rice, author and a past president of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), in his wonderful and comprehensive piece in the current edition of ESA's American Entomologist about the legendary Bruce Hammock.
His story begins in Arkansas.
A native of Little Rock, Ark., Bruce received his bachelor's degree in entomology (with minors in zoology and chemistry) magna cum laude from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in 1969. He received his doctorate in entomology-toxicology from UC Berkeley in 1973 with John Casida at UC Berkeley. Hammock served as a public health medical officer with the U.S. Army Academy of Health Science, San Antonio, and as a postdoctoral fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation, Department of Biology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
The headline says it well: "Bruce D. Hammock: Science Should Be Fun."
Hammock describes his Tom Sawyer-like childhood in Little Rock, where he wandered the woods and collected animals.
Rice asked him: "What was your favorite thing to collect?"
"I just liked interested creatures," Hammock told him. "I had a pet 'coon, pet deer, pet 'possums named Sears and Roebuck. The two 'possums had stolen some hot dogs at a Boy Scout jamboree and were trying to make their escape. This guy was going to kill them, so I took them home."
"I found Willy—his mom had been killed by hunters—in a tree stump and bottle-raised him with an old toothless bulldog, and he would ride around on her back. Raccoons and dogs are natural enemies. If an [unfamiliar] dog would growl at him, Willy would try to kill it, so he was not popular."
Young Tom went on to become an Eagle Scout and graduate from Louisiana State University. "I liked football, but I was not good at it," he recalled. "But I was upset with the football craziness in Arkansas, so I thought I could go to LSU and get away from it, but I ended up living underneath the football stadium."
In the Army, he served as a medical officer at Fort Sam, Houston, and what he saw--severely burned people in terrible pain--made a lasting impression on him. Today he's deeply involved in his research at UC Davis and the company he founded, EicOsis, in 2011 to alleviate pain in humans and companion animals.
Of EicOsis, he told Rice: "It's actually three companies: human health, equine health, and companion animal health. The human health goal is moving the drug into the clinic to treat human neuropathic pain. In dogs and cats and horses, it turns out that non-steroidals, like aspirin, are so much more toxic. If you give your dog some non-steroidals, you're saying you want your dog to be pain-free for a year, but you know you're killing it. Some non-steroidals are so toxic to non-primates that there's a real opportunity to get epoxide hydrolase to the clinic."
Excerpts from the article:
- Little did we know: While in Warsaw to attend a scientific meeting, Professor Hammock was arrested in Poland on suspicion of being a spy and spent six hours in jail.
- What does he look for in researchers hoping to join his lab? "Curiosity. And then there's this: If science is not fun, then it shouldn't be done. And if they enjoy science then they probably will be successful."
- Why did he leave UC Riverside for UC Davis? "Smog. [But] I absolutely loved Riverside. At the time, it was the largest entomology department in the world. It was just wonderful. And it was in the desert and I loved the desert. And I like rattlesnakes, and there is no shortage of rattlesnakes. They're not very pettable, but they're interesting. I've been bitten a lot of times by non-poisonous snakes. I thought I was fast, but snakes were faster. So I never kept a rattlesnake more than a few hours."
- His parents? His father was a postal worker and his mother sold World Book encyclopedias "and was convinced that if you bought World Book, you would be brilliant."
Indeed, Bruce Hammock's career is incredible--incredibly focused, superlative and kind. But he also has a finely honed sense of humor. Who else would launch an annual water balloon battle? He started it in 1980 on the Briggs Hall lawn, just outside his office. It's now called the Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle or "Bruce's Big Balloon Battle at Briggs."
"A few years ago, we had the management officer in biochemistry upset because she thought it was unseemly for the university," Hammock told Rice. "Last year, somebody called the police on us, and the police came, and the guy took off his gun belt and joined us. [Laughs.] That was fun!"
So is science. Or it ought to be.
Some Related Links:
- Bruce Hammock and EicOsis, Innovator of the Year
- Bruce Hammock Receives $6 Million Grant
- Bruce Hammock Water Balloon Battle: 15 Minutes of Aim
- Research Could Lead to Drug to Prevent or Reduce Autism, Schizophrenia
- Hammock Lab Union Draws 100 Scientists from 10 Countries
- Bruce Hammock: Scientist Extraordinaire
Chemical ecologist and conservation biologist Leslie Saul-Gershenz of UC Davis and Norman Gershenz, conservation biologist and CEO of SaveNature.Org, will speak on “Is Insect Biodiversity, Biomass and Abundance Declining? What Can Be Done If It Is?” at a public talk on Monday night, March 2, at the Hillside Club's Fireside Lecture Series, Berkeley.
The husband-wife team of environmental scientists will address the audience at 7:30 p.m. The Bay Area venue is in north Berkeley at 2286 Cedar St., between Spruce and Arch streets. (See directions)
They will discuss what factors are affecting native bees and insect populations in California and around the world; review some of the latest body of literature on insect declines; and relate how people can participate to make a positive difference.
Also as part of the Fireside Lecture Series, Kathy Kramer, founder and coordinator of the “Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour” will discuss “Garden as If Life Depends on It: How Bringing Back the Natives Can Help You Do So” at 7:30 p.m., Monday, April 6.
The events are free and open to the public, but a $10 donation per talk is requested to benefit the speaker fund.
Leslie, who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, is associate director of research, Wild Energy Initiative, John Muir Institute of the Environment, and on March 1, will join the research team at the USDA-ARS Invasive Species and Pollinator Health Research Unit, Davis. She will continue collaborating with the John Muir Institute.
Norm and Leslie co-founded SaveNature.Org, an international conservation program, to "protect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems worldwide and to inspire stewardship in the public through hands-on education programs." Norm serves as the chief executive officer and director of the Insect Discovery Lab (IDL). (See article on the duo.)
SaveNature.Org conducts nearly 800 hands-on conservation education programs in schools throughout the Greater Bay Area, and reaches more than 38,500 children annually with its IDL. Their work has been highlighted in National Geographic, Time magazine, and ABC's World News Tonight. Robert Pringle's recent article, Upgrading Protected Areas to Conserve Wild Biodiversity, in the journal Nature, details the organization's collaborative work to increase the size of protected areas.
The Hillside Club is a neighborhood social club established in 1898 to promote good design practices in the Berkeley hills; today it is a community-based membership organization supporting the arts and culture.
The event, sponsored by UC Davis Environmental Law Society (ELS) and scheduled from 8:30 to 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 6 in Room 1001 of the School of Law, 400 Mrak Ave., is free and open to the public. It will include lunch and an evening cocktail reception. Registration is under way on this Facebook page.
Four UC Davis entomologists will be among the speakers. They are:
- Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, whose expertise includes wasps. Kimsey is the "go-to" person in the department when the public requests general insect information.
- Neal Williams, professor and pollination ecologist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who focuses on native bees.
- Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, who has been monitoring the butterfly population of central California since 1972; and
- Brendon Boudinot, doctoral candidate and ant specialist, Phil Ward lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Experts in the field of entomology and agricultural sciences will converse with leaders in government, legal scholars and practitioners about the current threat to insect populations "and how we can use legal tools, policy and management practices to combat the sixth mass extinction," according to co-chairs Kelly Beskin (email@example.com) and Peter Jansen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Four separate panels will center on protecting insects and biodiversity. Some of the major topics will be about "listing insects under the Endangered Species Act and the tensions within agriculture between the need for pollinators and pesticide use," Beskin said.
- Franklin's bumble bee, Bombus franklini
- Suckley cuckoo bumble bee, Bombus suckleyi
- Western bumble bee, Bombus occidentalis
- Crotch bumble bee, Bombus crotchi
An insect fair will take place during lunch time. The Bohart Museum of Entomology will showcase insect specimens as well as a live "petting zoo," including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, and tarantulas. Graduate students will display their research projects, and the Entomology Graduate Student Association will be offering insect-themed t-shirts for sale. Cricket protein bars will be handed out to all those interested. Also planned is honey tasting from the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center.
"It should be a lot of fun for everybody," Beskin said.
Sponsors, in addition to ELS, include the California Environmental Law and Policy Center; UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment and the UC Davis School of Law.
See agenda on the Facebook page.