Williams will receive an award of $25,000 to be used in support of his research, teaching and public service activities. He will serve as a Chancellor's Fellow until July 1, 2020, Katehi said.
The program, established in 2000 to honor the achievements of outstanding faculty members early in their careers, is funded in part by the Davis Chancellor's Club and the Annual Fund of UC Davis.
His research focuses on the ecology and evolution of bees and other pollinator insects and their interactions with flowering plants, especially in light of changing landscapes. His work is particularly timely given concern over the global decline in bees and other pollinators.
Colleagues praise him for being a gifted scientist doing groundbreaking fundamental research and as an effective communicator of research findings to California agriculture, especially the almond industry.
Williams joined the UC Davis faculty in 2009 and received tenure as an associate professor in 2013. He received his doctorate in evolution and ecology from State University of New York, Stony Brook.
More information on the Fellows, from Dateline
That's the topic of a special conference--open to the public –set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9 at the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane. UC Davis researchers and state officials will address the crowd, announced conference coordinator Dave Fujino, director of the UC Davis-based California Center for Urban Horticulture.
“We are pleased to have such a knowledgeable lineup of UC Davis researchers who will clarify the issue of impact of neonicotinoid impacts on pollinators by summarizing and presenting the past and current science-based research,” Fujino said. “We are also fortunate to have additional presentations on the regulation guidelines on neonicotinoids and their role in controlling invasive pests in California, and a diverse group of stakeholders participating in a panel discussion on the neonicotinoid issue.”
Neonicotinoids, recently implicated in the worldwide die-off of pollinators, including honey bees, are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. Considered important in the control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests, they target the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. “Neonics,” as they're called, are commonly used on farms, and around homes, schools, and city landscapes.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will provide an overview of the current use of neonicotinoids and the role of honey bees in California agriculture. Six other speakers are scheduled, along with a panel discussion.
The speakers include:
- Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, who will discuss “California Pesticide Regulation of Neonicotinoids”
- Nick Condos, director of the Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services Division, California Department of Food and Agriculture, “Neonicotinoid Risks Associated with Invasive Species Management”
- Karen Jetter, associate project economist, UC Agricultural Issues Center, “Trends in Neonicotinoid Usage in California Agriculture and the Control of Invasive Species”
- Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, a doctoral candidate who studies with major professors Neal Williams and Ed Lewis of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, “Past Neonicotinoid and Bee Research”
- Elina Lastro Niño, Extension apiculturist based at the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, “Current Neonicotinoid and Bee Research.”
The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) will co-host the event with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Sponsors include California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC), a trade organization founded in 1911 to promote and protect the California nursery industry; Four Winds Growers, based in Winters, Calif.; Scotts Miracle-Gro, a company headquartered in Marysville, Ohio, and known as the world's largest marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products; and Monrovia, a horticultural craftsmen company headquartered in Azusa, Calif.
At the close of the conference, Fujino will preside over a panel discussion on neonicotinoid issues and concerns. Questions and answers from the audience will follow. The panel is to include a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, and representatives from the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Home Depot, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bayer CropScience and the American Beekeeping Federation.
The registration fee of $50 will include lunch, as well as the post-conference social hour. To register, access the CCHU website at http://ccuh.ucdavis.edu/public/copy_of_public/neonicotinoid-pollinator-conference-2015/neonic or contact CCUH representative Kate Lincoln at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-6642.
The European Union recently adopted a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the neonicotinoid family (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for a period of two years. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that by January 2016, it will ban the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and the use of crops improved through biotechnology throughout the 150 million acres managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System.
DAVIS--Research entomologist Jay Evans of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) will speak on "What's It Like Inside a Bee? Genetic Approaches to Honey Bee Health" from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 4 in 122 Briggs Hall.
The seminar, sponsored by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will be hosted by the Marin County Beekeepers.
"Honey bees are the preferred agricultural pollinators worldwide, and are important natural pollinators in Europe, Asia, and Africa," Evans says in his abstract. "The European honey bee, Apis mellifera, is both aided and abused by humans, leading to a worldwide distribution on one side, and alarming regional die-offs on the other. Primary causes of honey bee colony death range from inadequate nutrition to stress from chemical exposure and maladies caused by a diverse set of parasites and pathogens."
"Often, domesticated honey bees face two or more stress agents simultaneously. Genetic approaches are being used to determine and mitigate the causes of bee declines. Genetics screens are available for each of the major biotic threats to bees, and screens have been used to determine risk levels for these threats in the field. Thanks to extensive analyses of the honey bee genome, tools are also available to screen bees for heritable traits that enable disease resistance, and to query the expressed genes of bees to infer responses to chemicals and biological stress. This talk will cover genetic insights into honey bee health, disease resistance and susceptibility to chemical insults."
Evans received his undergraduate degree in biology at Princeton and his doctorate in biology from the University of Utah. He did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Georgia, where he became interested in honey bees. After a brief project on queen production at the University of Arizona, he joined the USDA/ARS as a research entomologist with the USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, MD.
He is especially interested in insect immunity and in the abilities of social insects to evade their many parasites and pathogens. He focuses his projects on a range of bee pests including the American foulbrood bacterium, small hive beetles, nosema, viral pests and varroa mites.
Evans was an early proponent of the Honey Bee Genome Project and helped recruit and organize scientists interested in applied genomics for bees. He has improved and applied genetic screens for possible causes of colony collapse disorder and is now heading a consortium to sequence the genome of the Varroa mite in order to develop novel control methods for this key pest.
The next UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar will be:
Title of Seminar: "Bee Genes, Behavior and Adaptation"
Professor, Department of Biology
Using state-of-the-art genome sequencing and bioinformatics, the researchers resolved a long-standing, unanswered evolutionary question. Scientists previously thought that ants and bees were more distantly related, with ants being closer to certain parasitoid wasps.
Ants, bees and stinging wasps all belong to the aculeate (stinging) Hymenoptera clade -- the group in which social behavior is most extensively developed, said senior author and ant specialist Phil Ward, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
"Despite great interest in the ecology and behavior of these insects, their evolutionary relationships have never been fully clarified. In particular, it has been uncertain how ants—the world’s most successful social insects—are related to bees and wasps," Ward said. "We were able to resolve this question by employing next-generation sequencing technology and advances in bioinformatics. This phylogeny, or evolutionary tree, provides a new framework for understanding the evolution of nesting, feeding and social behavior in Hymenoptera."
“With a phylogeny or evolutionary progression that we think is reliable and robust, we can now start to understand how various morphological and/or behavioral traits evolved in these groups of insects, and even examine the genetic basis of these phenotypic changes,” Chiu said.
Johnson, whose lab studies the genetics, behavior, evolution and health of honeybees, noted that the study showed that ants and bees are more closely related than previously thought.
The scientists combined data from the transcriptome -- showing which genes are active and being transcribed from DNA into RNA-- and genomic (DNA) data from a number of species of ants, bees and wasps, including bradynobaenid wasps, a cuckoo wasp, a spider wasp, a scoliid wasp, a mud dauber wasp, a tiphiid wasp, a paper wasp and a pollen wasp; a velvet ant (wasp); a dracula ant; and a sweat bee, Lasioglossum albipes.
Of particular interest was the finding that ants are a sister group to the Apoidea, a major group within Hymenoptera that includes bees and sphecid wasps (a family of wasps that includes digger wasps and mud daubers).
The UC Davis results also provide a new perspective on lower Cretaceous fossil Cariridris bipetiolata, originally claimed to be the oldest fossil ant. Scientists later reinterpreted it to be a spheciform wasp.
“Our discovery that ants and apoids are sister taxa helps to explain difficulty in the placement of Cariridris,” the authors wrote in the paper, “and suggests that it is best treated as a lineage close to the root of the ant-apoid tree, perhaps not assignable with certainty to either branch.”
The scientists discovered that the ancestral aculeate wasp was likely an ectoparasitoid, which attacks and paralyzes a host insect and leaves its offspring nearby where they can attach to the outside of the host and feed from it.
The research drew financial support from UC Davis.
Ullmann, based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will provide an overview of native bee diversity in Yolo County, discuss threats to native bees in the region, and explore efforts to enhance habitat for pollinators.
Ullmann also will highlight the importance of native bees for agricultural production, and the efforts of local organizations, landowners and researchers to identify and enhance plant communities that support pollinator populations in the context of global change. She will provide a slide show of pollinators, including honey bees, bumble bees, butterflies, and syrphid flies.
In the Williams lab, Ullmann focuses her research on pollinator habitat restoration and understanding how pollinator species are able to persist in highly modified landscapes, including agricultural lands. Williams, a pollination ecologist, is an associate professor.
Her talk will be CreekSpeak’s fifth of 2013 in its six-month series of community talks about the nature, culture and history of the region. A $5 donation is requested from those who have not yet joined the council.
The final CreekSpeak talk of 2013 will be on Oct. 17 when Marilyn Ramenofsky will speak on “Birds of Putah Creek.”
Putah Creek Council is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of Putah Creek and its tributaries through advocacy, education and community-based stewardship. They envision Putah Creek as "a thriving corridor of native riparian and aquatic ecosystems connecting the Coast Ranges to the Sacramento River and the Delta." They seek a watershed community of people who value their creek and are committed to its stewardship, according to their website.