The podcast, "The Buzz on Native Bees in Your Neighborhood," is online.
"When I say 'bees,' you probably think of a neat stack of white hive boxes and the jars of honey on the store shelves, right?" Flatow began. "But there's a lot more to bees than that. Because around the world, there are over 20,000 known bee species, and 4,000 of them are native to the U.S. And while these native bees that live in the wild play a key role in pollinating our plants, they don't get a ton of recognition or support like the ones that live in a box."
Professor Williams discussed a number of bee species, including bumble bees, carpenter bees, squash bees, mining bees ("bees that burrow into the ground or soil") and mason bees and leafcutter bees.
Mason bees, Williams said, build their nests "partly out of mud, which then dries. And the leafcutter bees are chewing pieces of leaves and making their nests out of those leaf pieces, either as whole chunks of leaves or as chewed up bits of leaves. We have a series of other small to large bees that nest on the ground or nest above ground that fall into other families. But probably those are the most familiar for most people."
Williams called attention to research led by his then graduate student, and now postdoctoral fellow, Maureen Page, who compared "the quality of honey bees at pollinating flowers versus the quality of other bees. And in general, we find that honey bees are sort of equal or slightly less good than many other bees. And the old adage, the jack of all trades is the master of none--the honey bee is really that jack of all trades. It's very wide in the number of flowers that it will visit, but doesn't tend to be particularly effective on any one flower visit relative to some of the other bees we have."
The alfalfa leafcutter bee "is a really effective pollinator relative to the honeybees at pollinating alfalfa," he told Flatow.
"So your bumble bee is sort of the lab animal, then," Flatow commented. "It's not a white mouse. It's a bumble bee."
Williams agreed. "It's become a pretty useful organism for studying things in the lab. I should say the other group that we work a lot with are mason bees and leafcutter bees. And because of the way they nest, they have been really useful for studying other sorts of questions. So there are a couple of groups that we work well with."
Williams also touched on the threats faced by native bees. In addition to pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides), "they're threatened by the loss of reliable foraging floral resources," Williams said. "They are threatened by a set of emerging diseases. And this is, again, where the honey bee gets a lot of attention, right? This colony collapse may be resulting from certain viruses, but wild bees, native bees, also have some substantial problems with certain viruses and also other kinds of pathogens."
"And then a really big one is climate change. So we have to fully recognize that changes in rainfall and also changes in temperature patterns seem to be stressing bees in different parts of the U.S., for sure."
Flatow, whose colleagues say has "revived many an office plant at death's door," asked: "Can I plant a little patch of wild flowers in a pot or in the yard and really help out?"
"This is also one of these questions that's a complex one, but we'll try not to make it too complex," Williams said. "I mean, in general, planting flowers for bees is a useful thing. The one thing we'd want to be careful about if we were planting flowers in the yard is that we were also being careful about the use of some of these chemical pesticides. But I think also recognizing the importance of natural areas and broader stewardship of habitat for bees across the landscape is really important. And this tricky one with climate change, too--what are we going to do? We don't solve climate change with the sorts of things that we would do– small-scale actions--to help bees."
"But we can do some things probably--providing shady spots, where they have what we call microclimates that are maybe protecting them from times where there are heat waves that are particularly problematic--things like that that could be useful."
Williams, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty in 2009, was named a Chancellor's Fellow in 2015, a five-year program supporting his research, teaching and public service. He was named a a Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate Analytics in 2018, and a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences in 2021.
A native of Madison, Wisc., he received his doctorate in ecology and evolution from Stony Brook University, New York in 1999.
- Neal Williams, biography, Wikipedia
- Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Evidence of exploitative competition between honey bees and native bees in two California landscapes by Maureen Page and Neal Williams, June 2023, Journal of Animal Ecology
- Honey bee introductions displace native bees and decrease pollination of a native wildflower by Maureen Page and Neal Williams, December 2022, Journal of Ecology
- A meta-analysis of single visit pollination effectiveness comparing honey bees and other floral visitors by Maureen Page, Charlie Nicholson, Ross Brennan and Neal Williams, October 2021, American Journal of Botany
All seminars will be in-person and will take place on Mondays at 4:10 p.m. in Room 122 Briggs Hall, and also will be broadcast on Zoom. The exception: UC Davis doctoral alumnus' CharlotteAlberts' seminar on Nov. 13 will be Zoom only. Apre-seminar coffee will take place from 3:30 to 4:10 p.m. in 158 Briggs.
The Zoom link:
Monday, Oct. 2
Associate professor, Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University
Title: "Understanding the Dynamics of Plant-Animal Interactions in a Changing World"
Abstract: "Plant-pollinator interactions are ubiquitous and play an important role in ecosystem functioning across the globe. Critically, plants, pollinators, and their interactions face numerous threats in our changing world, including those related to climate change. However, our understanding of the consequences of these threats to plant-pollinator interactions has been hampered because we lack knowledge of the basic ecology of many of these organisms, and how their ecology responds to changing abiotic and biotic conditions. We will investigate these issues in this seminar."
Monday, Oct. 9 (postponed, not rescheduled yet)
Emeritus professor, Cornell University
Title: "Our Changing Menu: Using the Power of Food to Confront Climate Change'
Abstract: "Food is loved and needed, it is emotive, and it is deeply embedded in our cultures and family histories. However, not enough people know the subtle to profound changes happening to their food as the world rapidly warms. It is an ideal messenger that can help make climate change relevant to everyone — we all eat. Results of our national survey showed that regardless of political affiliation, most people are concerned about climate change effects on their food choices, they would pay more for good grown using climate friendly practices, and they want to learn more about the future of their food. An audience awaits to hear this story. We can all tap the power of food to bring about the rapid and at scale changes that are desperately needed to keep our favorite foods on the menu, and coincidentally, keep the planet livable."
Monday, Oct. 16
Research entomologist, U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Title: "Pollen Nutritional ecology of Bee-Blower Interactions"
Abstract: "Pollen provides bees their primary source of protein and lipid macronutrients, essential for development, fitness, and resistance to stress. Yet, pollen macronutrient quality differs substantially among host-plant species. And thus, bees may be sensitive to their nutritional needs and differentially forage among host plants to obtain appropriate nutrition. In this presentation, I will highlight my research that has linked bumble bee host plant foraging preferences to pollen nutritional quality and individual and colony health. Using this as a theoretical framework, I will present recent research where I show that floral pollen nutritional quality can help explain the structure and patterns of bee-wildflower community interactions among diverse populations; and how this research can inform conservation practices. Finally, I will discuss how the quality of pollen that bees collect may differ between and remain consistent within species populations and help explain their history of floral preferences."
Monday, Oct. 23
Assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Environmental Toxicology Department
Title: "Disarming the Defenses of Resistant Pests: Rational Design of Inhibitors for ABC Transporter Proteins in the Varroa Mite"
Abstract: "Varroa mites pose a significant global menace to honeybee colonies, causing colony losses, ecological imbalances, and food scarcity. Escalating pesticide resistance in these mites necessitates innovative strategies to bolster acaricide effectiveness. Small molecule synergists that heighten mite susceptibility to acaricides offer a promising solution by amplifying chemical treatment efficacy, thus reducing overall pesticide demand. Present synergist development strategies primarily target metabolic enzyme inhibition to restore insect sensitivity to pesticides. Our research focuses on ABC efflux transporters, pivotal in cellular xenobiotic handling, as a new approach. We aim to establish a toxicokinetic pipeline to uncover novel synergists and validate their ability to increase Varroa mite vulnerability to existing miticides. By capitalizing on synergistic interactions between sensitizing agents and acaricides, we aim to equip beekeepers and regulators with a sustainable toolbox to combat Varroa resistance, ultimately fostering long-term honey bee well-being."
Monday, Oct. 20
Department of Biology, San Diego State University
Title: "Ring Species, Ring Speciation or a Ring of Species? An Example with California Mygalomorph Spiders."
Abstract: "Ring species can be defined as a chain of interbreeding populations which expands along two pathways around a geographic barrier, where terminal forms can coexist without interbreeding. A broken ring species model preserves the geographic setting and fundamental features of an idealized model but accommodates varying degrees of gene flow restriction through evolutionary time. Members of the genus Calisoga are distributed around the Central Valley of California, and previous genetic studies have shown that this is a lineage-rich complex of mygalomorph spiders, with evidence to suggest that Calisoga might be a case of ring speciation. Here we examine broken ring species dynamics in Calisoga spiders, using UCEs and mitogenomes we test key predictions of timing, ancestry, connectivity and terminal overlap. I will discuss why ring species should not be viewed as homogeneous entities, but rather as heterogeneous units with different predicted evolutionary dynamics in different geographic parts of the ring."
Monday, Nov. 6
Research Microbiologist at the USDA-ARS United State Horticultural Lab in Fort Pierce, FL.
Title: "Managing Soilborne Pathogens and Pests with Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD)"
Abstract: "Growers consider soilborne disease management one of their main production issues. It is estimated that members of the soilborne pest complex (SPC), weeds, nematodes, fungi, oomycetes, bacteria, viruses, and protozoans, account for 10-20% crop loss annually worldwide. Methyl bromide was used to manage the SPC, however, it was discovered that it contributed to ozone depletion, thus was banned worldwide. Currently, no registered alternative chemical fumigant is as effective as methyl bromide for SPC management. Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is biologically based alternative to soil fumigation. ASD consists of amending the soil with a labile carbon source, tarping the soil with a plastic film, and watering the soil under the film to field capacity. During the ASD process the soil microbiome undergoes populations shifts and various anti-microbial compounds are produced. ASD has shown to be as effective as methyl bromide SPC management. This presentation will discuss the history of ASD and current research."
Monday, Nov. 13 (Zoom only)
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Title: "Assassin Fly (Diptera: Asilidae) Systematics and Predator Ecology"
Abstract: "Assassin flies (Diptera: Asilidae) are a diverse family that plays an essential ecological role as top aerial and venomous predators. Little is known about the evolution of their predatory habits. This study provides a novel phylogenetic hypothesis of Asilidae along with prey preference and ancestral state reconstruction in a maximum likelihood framework. This study is based on 176 assassin fly species, 35 Asiloidea outgroup species, 3,400 prey preference records accumulated from literature and museum collections, and approximately 7,913 bp of nuclear DNA from five genes (18S and 28S rDNA, AATS, CAD, and EF-1a protein-encoding DNA) and mitochondrial DNA from one gene (COI). Of the 12 asilid subfamilies included in the analysis the monophyly of six was supported. We used ancestral state reconstruction and stochastic character mapping to test whether a polyphagous arthropod predator is the ancestral state for Asilidae. Assassin flies are polyphagous arthropod predators, with specialized arthropod prey preferences evolving 20 independently across the Asilidae phylogeny. I will also summarize my other dissertation chapter, a review of Nearctic Saropogon with a new species description."
Monday, Nov. 20
Evolutionary biologist working with genomes at INRAE, France
Title: "Parasitic Success in the Absence of Sex: What Have We Learned from Nematode Genomes?"
Abstract: "Root-knot nematodes are devastating plant parasites of worldwide importance. Interestingly, species that cause most damages reproduce entirely asexually. These nematodes are extremely polyphagous and have a wide geographic range. Theoretically, in the absence of sexual recombination animal species have lower adaptive potential and are predicted to undergo genome decay. To investigate how these species can be successful parasites on many hosts and in many places around the world, we have sequenced and analyzed their genomes. Out analysis confirmed these species are polyploid hybrids and the combination of several genotypes from different species might provide them with a general-purpose genotype. However, this does not explain how with a theoretically fixed genotype these species are able to overcome resistance genes or adapt to a new host. Therefore, we analyzed genomic variability across different populations and the possible mechanisms underlying genomic variations. In this presentation, I will provide an overview of our findings."
Monday, Nov. 27
Senior Scientist in the Institute of Plant Sciences, The Volcani Center, Israel
Title: "Improving Cross-Pollination in Deciduous Fruit Trees"
Abstract: "Tree crops belonging to the Rosaceae, such as almond, pear, apple, and sweet cherry, depend on cross-pollination by insects to set fruit. The primary pollinator of the crops is the honey bee (Apis mellifera). However, due to harsh climatic conditions during flowering, limited movement of bees between cultivars, low preference of the bees for flowers of the target crop, and limited overlap in flowering between the cultivars, pollination is a primary factor limiting yield. Our group has tested multiple approaches to mitigate this problem: Using 'Pollen dispensers,' sequential introduction of beehives to the orchards, selection of honeybee strains with higher preference for the target crop, introduction of bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) colonies and phosphorous fertilization to increase nectar secretion and improve crop-flower attractiveness. I will summarize the effects of those methods on fruit set and yield in apples, almonds, and pears."
Monday, Dec. 4
Professor in the Section of Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California San Diego, and associate dean in the Division of Biological Sciences
Title: "Danger, Dopamine, and Dance: New Insights from the Magic Well of Honey Bee Communication"
Abstract: "Karl von Frisch referred to the waggle dance as the 'magic well' for the insights that it provides not only on honey bees, but on the general cognitive complexity that social insects are capable of. New research demonstrates that the neurotransmitter, dopamine, the “pleasure molecule” plays a similar hedonic role in honey bees as it does in many vertebrates, regulating the perception of danger and the anticipation of food rewards as revealed in the excitatory waggle dance and the associated, inhibitory stop signal. I will also discuss new data showing that the honey bee waggle dance is partially learned and has elements that may be culturally transmitted. Together, these findings, demonstrate that the waggle dance can teach us a great deal about shared cognitive mechanisms and the importance of social learning across taxa."
For seminars technical issues, contact Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Johnson, a leading expert on the behavior, genomics and evolution of honey bees, is the author of a newly published book, “Honey Bee Biology,” released June 6 by Princeton University Press. Johnson joined the UC Davis faculty in 2011 after conducting postdoctoral research at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley. He focuses his research on the behavior, evolution, theoretical biology and genomics of the honey bee.
“Our lab studies the genetics, behavior, and evolution of honey bees,” Johnson writes on his website. “We use experimental and theoretical approaches to all the questions we explore. Current work in our lab focuses on the evolution and genetic basis of social behavior using comparative and functional genomics, task allocation using behavioral and theoretical approaches, and honey bee health using a combination of genetics, epidemiology, and physiological approaches.”
For "outstanding achievements and notable contributions in disseminating science-based beekeeping information since 2016,” the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) won a 2023 UC Davis Staff Assembly “Citation of Excellence” and praise from Chancellor Gary May.
CAMBP director and founder Elina Lastro Niño, associate professor of Cooperative Extension and a member of UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, and co-program manager Wendy Mather share the Faculty-Staff Partnership Award.
Niño, UC Extension apiculturist since 2014, founded CAMBP in 2016. Mather joined the program in March of 2018. Also integral to the program is Kian Nikzad, but as a newer employee, was ineligible to be nominated.
The awards ceremony, held Sept. 12 in the International Center on campus, singled out “some of our most exceptional UC Davis individuals and teams,” Chancellor May said in his presentation.
Nikzad accepted the award on behalf of Niño, who was participating in Apimondia in Santiago, Chile, conferring with colleagues at the UC Davis Chile Life Sciences Innovation Center, a part of UC Davis Global Affairs. She was assisting them in developing a sustainable and environmentally friendly science-based beekeeping program to support the success of farmers and beekeepers at all economic levels.
“I truly appreciate everything you do on a daily basis to make UC Davis a wonderful place,” the chancellor said. “You are the heart of UC Davis and I'm grateful for your dedication and hard work...you “contribute to our university's success and make UC Davis a more enjoyable, creative, inclusive and invigorating place to work.”
Nomination. Nominators of "The Bee Team" lauded Niño and Mather for providing a “program of learning, teaching, research, and public service, goes above and beyond in delivering comprehensive, science-based information about honey bees and honey bee health. They continually and consistently develop, improve, and refine their statewide curriculum that educates stewards in a train-the-trainer program to disseminate accurate, timely, and crucial information. Honey bees pollinate more than 30 California crops, including almonds, a $5 billion industry (no bees, no pollination, no almonds). Indeed, California produces more than a third of our country's vegetables and three-quarters of our fruits and nuts. However, colony losses are alarming due to pesticides, pests, predators and pathogens.”
As of Sept. 15, 2023, CAMBP has donated 34,000 hours of volunteer time and served 209,000 individuals in education, outreach and beekeeping mentorship. If a volunteer hour were to be calculated at $26.87, CAMBP has given $913,580 back to California in service of science-based beekeeping and honey bee health.
Scholarships. “No money?” wrote the nominators (Kathy Keatley Garvey, Nora Orozco and Tabatha Yang from the Department of Entomology and Nematology). “No problem. (CAMBP) has donated 12 scholarships, worth $250 each; helped novices who can't afford mentoring or equipment by linking them with veteran beekeepers; and is engaging in free bee removals--rescuing and relocating bees.”
Over the past year, CAMBP has developed and expanded its educational materials. This includes launching an asynchronous online course and in-person preparatory programs with its partners. It is updating safety materials and developing an Epinephrine auto-injector/CPR course, geared toward “everyone from 4-H beekeepers to novice beekeepers to the general public,” the nominators wrote.
CAMBP also teaches “schoolchildren about bees at specially guided garden tours at UC Davis, inspiring them “to care for the bees and plant nectar and pollen resources.”
Its website, accessible to the public, offers a list of classes and knowledge-based information, including backyard beekeeping, bees in the neighborhood, bees and beekeeping regulations, defensive bees, live honey bee removals, and protecting pollinators.
“Bottom line,” the nominators concluded, “our ‘B' Team is really an ‘A' Team, an outstanding example of UC Davis teaching, research and service; a team providing exemplary service and contributions; and a team that creates and maintains high morale and embodies the Principles of Community.”
Joint Statement. In a joint statement following the awards ceremony, Mather and Nikzad said: “We share this award with our passionate and caring member volunteers. Our members are deeply committed to honey bee health, science-based beekeeping practices, and, most importantly, to each other. Their enthusiasm and dedication drive our mission forward. We wish to acknowledge Elina Niño for her visionary leadership; she has brought together various stakeholders, including growers, bee breeders, commercial, sideline, and hobbyist beekeepers, as well as the general public, through CAMBP, UC Davis, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE). We missed having her at the ceremony.”
At the Staff Assembly ceremony, one other team received a Faculty-Staff Partnership Award Excellence Award: the Graduate Mentoring Initiative, comprised of Ambarish Kulkarni, faculty, Department of Chemical Engineering; Pamela Lein, faculty, Department of Molecular Bioscience; and Elizabeth Sturdy, staff, director of the Mentoring and Academic Success Initiative, Graduate Studies.
Serving as co-chairs of the 2023 Citations of Excellence Committee were Darolyn Striley, manager of the Office of Student Development, School of Medicine, and Mary Carrillo, business operations manager, Languages and Literatures.
Staff Assembly sponsors the annual Citations of Excellence awards program to provide recognition for UC Davis and UC Davis Health individual staff and staff teams “who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in one of the following areas: teaching, research, service, innovation, supervision, mentorship, team awards and faculty/staff partnership award.”
The event, free and family friendly, will take place in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis. Parking is also free.
Among the presenters will be
- Lynn and Bob Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty. Lynn, a hymenopterist, is a UC Davis distinguished professor who teaches general entomology and the biodiversity of California insects and serves as the director of the Bohart Museum, and Bob is a forensic entomologist, specializing in public health entomology; arthropods of medical importance; zoonotic disease; biology and ecology of tick-borne pathogens; tick feeding behavior and biochemistry.
- Carla-Cristina "CC" Melo Edwards, a first-year doctoral student in the laboratory of medical entomologist-geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, associate professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. She will share her expertise on mosquitoes and show specimens.
- Moriah Garrison, senior entomologist and research coordinator with Carroll-Loye Biological Research (CLBR). She is scheduled to show live ticks and mosquitoes and field questions.
- Educators from the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District. They will discuss mosquitoes and their program
- Nazzy Pakpour, UC Davis alumna, Novozymes scientist and author of Please Don't Bite Me
- Jeff Smith, curator of the Bohart Museum's ;Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) collection. He will display butterfly specimens collected globally. Also on the "Lep crew" are Bohart volunteers Greg Kareofelas and Brittany Kohler.
CC Edwards. In the Attardo lab, CC focuses her research "on investigating the physiological mechanisms underlying pyrethroid resistance in Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito)." She was a McNair scholar at Baylor University, where she completed her undergraduate degree in cell and molecular biology in May 2021. "I got interested in the mosquito field through my undergraduate research of studying the sensory and oviposition responses of Aedes aegypti in relation to the compound geosmin."
"I went on to do my masters at Texas Tech University under the advisement of Dr. Corey Brelsfoard where I graduated this past summer (2023)," she said. "I investigated the effects of microplastics in relation to the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito). Plastic pollution has been a worldwide problem and research has shown that microplastics have been found in the guts of various organisms. With Aedes species being container inhabiting species, my master's research was focused on investigating if there are alterations of the mosquitoes' microbiomes and their immunity due to the ingestion of microplastics."
"When I am not in the lab, I enjoy getting involved with my local community by helping out and doing outreach," Edwards said. This past summer she helped the city of Lubbock, Amarillo, and the Texas Public Health Department by identifying mosquitoes for West Nile surveillance. She also served as the outreach chair for the Texas Tech Association of Biologists during her masters' degree pursuit and enjoyed being a mentor for first-generation students.
CLBR, involved in insect repellent testing and natural product development, is owned and managed by scientists Scott Carroll and Jenella Loye, a husband-wife team affiliated with UC Davis Department of Entomology an Nematology. Formed in 1989, the company serves the consumer products industry with testing, development and regulatory services for insect repellents, organic products, and low toxicity pesticides. Carroll, president of CLBR, is an evolutionary biologist, while Loye is a medical entomologist and microbiologist. Carroll holds a doctorate in biology/biological sciences from the University of Utah, while Loye holds a doctorate in zoology, microbiology and epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma.
Photography Displays. Professor Attardo, who maintains a lab website on Vector Biology and Reproductive Biology at http://attardo-lab.com, and chairs the Designated Emphasis in the Biology of Vector-Borne Diseases (DEBVBD), will display some of his mosquito images, including a blood-fed Aedes aegypti, and a female and male Culex tarsalis. Alex Wild, a UC Davis doctoral alumnus and curator of entomology, University of Texas, Austin, will display an image of mosquito larvae that currently hangs in Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Wild's insect images can be viewed on his website, https://www.alexanderwild.com.
Petting Zoo. A popular attraction is the live petting zoo; visitors are encouraged to hold or get acquainted with live Madagascar hissing cockroaches and stick insects.
Family Arts and Crafts Activity. The event will be held outside and will highlight two collecting techniques, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
- Clear Packing Tape Art. "Clear packing tape is a good way to collect small, hard-to-see insects," Yang said. "Glitter will mimic small insects like fleas or bed bugs. Putting the tape on white paper makes it easy to look at them under a microscope and for this craft it will make a pretty card."
- Making insect collecting or "kill" jars. Participants are asked to bring a recycled jar. "This should be a clean and dried glass jar with a wide, metal top--think jam, pickle, peanut butter jars. Four to 16-ounce jars work well. We will have some on hand as well, but recycling is good! We will fill the bottom with plaster of paris and let it dry and teach people how to use it properly, using something like nail polisher remover containing ethyl acetate as the killing agent. A UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology video explains the procedure: https://youtu.be/s8yCzFGzbn8?si=71sNmA5l8NyP1zj0
Noted entomologist and UC Davis doctoral alumnus Michael Hoffmann, an emeritus professor at Cornell University known for his advocacy of climate change literacy and the relationship between food and climate change, plus his leadership activities and biological control projects, will deliver the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Award Seminar on Monday, Oct. 9 in the Student Community Center, UC Davis.
The Leigh seminar, hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, annually honors distinguished alumni. Hoffmann was selected the 2020 recipient, but the COVID pandemic intervened. This is first seminar since the beginning of COVID pandemic.
Hoffmann will present his lecture from 4 to 5 p.m., in Room D, second floor of the Student Community Center. It is free and open to the public and no reservations are required.
An invitational reception and buffet dinner will follow in the Student Community Center.
Hoffmann, who received his doctorate in entomology in 1990 from UC Davis, studying with Professor Ted Wilson and later Professor Frank Zalom, will present the seminar on “Our Changing Menu--Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need,” the title of a book he co-authored with Carrie Koplinka-Loehr, and Danielle Eiseman in April, 2021.
The co-authors "offer an eye-opening journey through a complete menu of before-dinner drinks and salads; main courses and sides; and coffee and dessert. Along the way they examine the escalating changes occurring to the flavors of spices and teas, the yields of wheat, the vitamins in rice, and the price of vanilla." They round out their story "with a primer on the global food system, the causes and impacts of climate change, and what we can all do. Our Changing Menu is a celebration of food and a call to action?encouraging readers to join with others from the common ground of food to help tackle the greatest challenge of our time."
Hoffmann transitioned to emeritus in January 2020 after 30 years at Cornell, but remains active. Serving as executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions (2015-2020), he continues to provides visionary leadership, communicates to a wide range of audiences the challenges and opportunities that come with a changing climate, and builds partnerships among public and private organizations.
Hoffmann's leadership activities include co-chairing the President's Sustainable Campus Committee and helping to lead a climate change literacy initiative for students, staff, and faculty. He dedicates his time toward what he calls “the grand challenge of climate change and (to) help people understand and appreciate what is happening through food.” Effectively communicating about climate change, Hoffmann presented a TEDX talk in 2014 on “Climate Change: It's Time to Raise Our Voices” that drew widespread attention.
A native of Wisconsin, Hoffmann holds a bachelor of science degree (1975) from the University of Wisconsin, and his master's degree from the University of Arizona (1978). He served with the U.S. Marines in Vietnam from 1967 to 1971, achieving the rank of sergeant.
UC Davis Experiences. Hoffmann remembers well his experiences at UC Davis. “I was privileged to work with many dedicated faculty in entomology and several other departments.”
After receiving his doctorate at UC Davis, Hoffmann joined the faculty of Cornell in 1990 as an assistant professor, with 60 percent Extension and 40 percent research duties, and advanced to associate professor in 1996, and professor in 2003. His academic career focused on administrative endeavors (80 percent) beginning in 1999.
Hoffmann's career at Cornell included serving as associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, associate director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, and director of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. He helped initiate a leadership and professional development week-long program that benefited more than 400 faculty at Cornell and beyond.
Prior to his administrative duties, he worked to develop and implement cost-effective and environmentally sensitive tactics for management of insect pests. He emphasized biological control, development and application of insect behavior modifying chemicals, and novel control tactics, all in an integrated pest management (IPM) context. Much of his research and Extension programming was multi-state and multidisciplinary in nature.
Among his entomological achievements, he
- Developed unique, cost-effective and environmentally benign biological control tactics for insect pest of sweet corn, peppers and potatoes, and presented wide scale demonstrations on conventional and organic farms in New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Canada.
- Published the first popular guide to beneficial insects (64 pages, with more than 5,000 copies distributed)
- Developed patented unique fiber barrier technology for pest control
His publication record includes 105 refereed journal articles, nine book chapters, and three books.
Leigh Seminar. The Leigh seminar memorializes cotton entomologist Thomas Frances Leigh (1923-1993), an international authority on the biology, ecology and management of arthropod pests affecting cotton production. During his 37-year UC Davis career, Leigh was based at the Shafter Research and Extension Center, also known as the U.S. Cotton Research Station. He researched pest and beneficial arthropod management in cotton fields, and host plant resistance in cotton to insects, mites, nematodes and diseases. In his memory, his family and associates set up the Leigh Distinguished Alumni Seminar Entomology Fund at the UC Davis Department of Entomology. When his wife, Nina, passed in 2002, the alumni seminar became known as the Thomas and Nina Distinguished Alumni Seminar.
Leigh joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1958, retiring in 1991 as an emeritus professor, but he continued to remain active in his research and collaboration until his death on Oct. 26, 1993. The Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America awarded him the C. F. Woodworth Award for outstanding service to entomology in 1991.
'Our Changing Menu': Warming Climate Serves Up Meal Remake" Cornell