(Editor's note: Professors James R. Carey, Hugh Dingle and Diane Ullman are the authors of this tribute to Sean Duffey, 53. professor of entomology at UC Davis who died unexpectedly on May 21, 1997. He joined the faculty in 1976 and at the time of his death, was serving as vice chair of the department.)
DAVIS--Sean Duffey died suddenly in Davis, California, on May 21, 1997, from an embolism precipitated by unsuspected, aggressive, and difficult to diagnose lung cancer. To the last he was unaware that he was ill and was vigorous and active up to the moment of his death. Sean is survived by his wife, Anne; his sons, Brendan and Seth, of Davis; and his parents, Betty and Laurance Duffey of Calgary, Alberta.
He was born November 28, 1943, in Toronto and received his bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology and his Ph.D. in botany from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, the latter in 1974. Following receipt of his doctorate, he spent two years on a NATO/National Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Georgia. He joined the faculty of the Entomology Department at the University of California, Davis, in 1976.
Sean's research program focused on chemical ecology and his efforts ranged widely over the interactions involving chemicals, plants, and insects. His first studies were of the cardiac glycosides produced by milkweeds (Asclepiadaceae) and their sequestration by the insects that fed on them. His primary efforts concentrated on the milkweed bugs, Oncopeltus fasciatus and Lygaeus kalmii, but he also worked with monarch butterflies and milkweed beetles. Among his important discoveries was the fact that a biophysical system was operating in the sequestering of cardiac glycosides. While continuing his research on cardiac glycosides, Sean began an analysis of the remarkable cyanogenic defensive secretions of Polydesmid millipedes.
There followed several papers on the biochemistry of HCN production and the production of other defensive compounds in these interesting animals. After arriving at UC Davis, Sean began a long series of brilliant studies on the chemical mechanisms used by plants to fend off attack by insects and various pathogens. This work centered on resistance in tomatoes, and over the years he collaborated with numerous students and colleagues. Studies analyzed the role of numerous chemicals produced by plants including tomatine, proteinase inhibitors, and various plant oxidative enzymes. Recent studies had included analyses of induced defenses and the interactions of chemicals with the biological agents such as parasitoids and baculoviruses used in various IPM and biological control programs.
'He made our department a better place; he made UC Davis a better campus: he made Davis a better community. And he also made many of us better persons.'
A constant theme and frequently emphasized message in Sean's work was the fact that chemical-biological interactions were rarely simple and straightforward. He stressed that in order to understand plant-insect interactions, for example, it was necessary to understand the interactions among plant chemicals, the overall characteristics of the insect's diet, the physiological state of the insect, and the modifiable characteristics of plant and insect. Chemical and biological context and chemical mixture were seen as critical determinants of biological activity; a simple view that natural products functioned merely as "toxins" or isolated defensive factors was often misleading. His was truly interdisciplinary research that included several joint projects with members of the Entomology Department and also with colleagues in the departments of Nematology Ecology and Plant Pathology. We all experienced Sean insisting over and over that interactions are not simple and that one must understand the chemistry, the physiology, and the ecology to really understand interactions between plants, insects, and their pathogens. Sean's legacy is an outstanding record of how to go about studying plant-insect interactions, not just the gathering of data on interactions that occur.
Teaching was always a priority and a passion for Sean, and he was the antithesis of the much caricatured professor ensconced in an Ivory Tower interested only in research. He taught in some 20 different courses ranging from general education courses aimed at introducing students in the arts and humanities to the wonders of insects to advanced courses for the most sophisticated of graduate students. In these latter courses, the length and breadth of the reading lists were legendary and reflected Sean's incredible range of interest and understanding of insect-plant interactions from the ecology of the insects to the arcana of the most subtle of chemical and physiological reactions. His courses were characterized by constant prodding from Sean to get students to think, to question, and to analyze. He was fiercely analytical himself, and he cajoled, coaxed, and occasionally harassed students to be likewise. He had an uncanny ability to see the potential in each student and to encourage each to do his or her best.
Sean was always extremely popular with students and his passion for good mentoring matched that for his teaching. He served as Master Graduate Advisor for the department and chaired its Graduate Policy Committee. His lab was a busy place with undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs from both his and other laboratories carrying out projects. Always approachable, Sean not only advised and directed his own students, but was inspiration and help to several others from fields as diverse as Toxicology and Anthropology.
Sean's professional activities included membership in several societies and positions on the Editorial Boards of leading journals in his field such as the Journal of Chemical Ecology and Physiological Entomology. He was active in disseminating his research, presenting important invited papers at the International Congresses of Entomology and the Gordon Conferences. He also enthusiastically encouraged his students to present their work, and the later successful careers of many of them reflect this early encouragement. Sean was also fully committed to participating in the governance of the University and chaired or served on many important committees in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and in the Academic Senate.
He was vice chairperson of the Department of Entomology at the time of his death and was the acting chairperson in 1994-95. Sean recognized that a department and a university were not simply the sum of faculty, grants, papers, committees, and courses. Rather he knew that they must be, in the largest sense, an integration of everyone from the lowliest of beginning students, to office staffs, to graduates, to postdocs, to technicians, and to faculty He saw us as part of a larger community, and his words and deeds affirmed this. It would be hard to imagine anyone more committed to his science, to his teaching, to his department, and to his university. It is one of the wonders of Sean's life that he was equally committed to family and friends.
Never one to let grass grow, Sean actively pursued outside interests in his "spare time." He was a dedicated runner, putting in several miles most noontimes. He had an intense interest in good music, and the strains of Bach, Mozart and other masters nearly always emanated from his office. He read widely, often startling colleagues with his depth of understanding of seemingly arcane subjects. When his sons started playing soccer, he immersed himself enthusiastically in the local program, refereeing games and serving as head referee for several years. His garden was a riot of blooming plants, several carefully chosen to attract butterflies and other insects. The number of lives that Sean touched was remarkably revealed at his memorial service where hundreds of mourners overwhelmed the capacity of the church and flowed around the alter, clogged the aisles, and spilled out onto the lawn outside.
Sean will be intensely missed by those of us who were his colleagues. His maturity, wisdom, and intense loyalty will be hard to replace, but his laughter and personal warmth have left a glow. He touched lives in many ways from his flourishing bow as he ushered a member of the office staff through a door to his cheerful greetings in the morning and hearty wave when he left for home. He made our department a better place; he made UCD a better campus; he made Davis a better community. And he also made many of us better persons.
There will be two memorials to Sean in the department that will go some small way toward expressing our regard for him. The first is a Graduate Fellowship in Chemical Ecology bearing his name, and the second is a sculpture by local artist Donna Billick to be placed at the entrance to the department.
Finally, Sean's multiple accomplishments and flair for life are perhaps best described in lines from a poem in his memory written by a French postdoctoral:
Tu etais un chevalier de la Science Au coeur de troubadour
--Written by Professors James R. Carey, Hugh Dingle and Diane Ullman, UC Davis Department of Entomology
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology
Aug. 21, 2006
Barker is modeling mosquito distributions in California based on geographic factors and climate. “I am examining the effects of long-term changes in water management, agricultural practices, and land cover on mosquito abundance here,” he said. “I'm also studying the relationship between mosquito abundance and transmission of mosquito-borne viruses.”
Morgan is “identifying the chemical and physical cues that salt marsh mosquitoes use during oviposition site selection.”
“I am also working on characterizing oviposition habitats of North American Culex species,” said Morgan, who works in the UC Davis lab of entomologist and associate professor Sharon Lawler. Culex mosquitoes transmit the West Nile virus, which last year killed 19 people in California and infected more than 900 others throughout the state.
Barker, a native of Abingdon, Va., earned his master of science degree in epidemiology in 2005 from UC Davis. He received a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1998 and a master’s degree in entomology in 2001, both from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
Barker is advised by research entomologists William Reisen and Bruce Eldridge of the UC Davis Center for Vectorborne Diseases. Reisen is an adjunct professor with the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Eldridge, former director of the UC Davis Mosquito Research Program, is a retired professor of entomology at UC Davis.
Hazeltine (1926-1994) managed the Butte County Mosquito Abatement District, Oroville, from 1966 to 1992. He was an ardent supporter of the judicious use of public health pesticides to protect public health, according to Robert Washino, retired chair and professor of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Hazeltine challenged federal and state regulations that affected public health, Washino said.
Enrolled in the graduate program in entomology at UC Berkeley, from 1950 to 1953, he was awarded his doctorate in entomology from Purdue University in 1962. He managed the Lake County Mosquito Abatement District from 1961-64 and the Butte County Mosquito Abatement District from 1966-1992. He continued work on related projects until his death in 1994.
Medical entomologist Bruce Eldridge of UC Davis eulogized him at the 2005 American Mosquito Control Association conference. His talk was later published in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association.
Previous recipients include:
2005: Nicole Mans, $1,300
2004: Sharon Minnick, $1,000
2003: Hannah Burrack, $1,000
2002: Holly Ganz and Andradi Villalobos, $500 each
2001: Laura Goddard and Linda Styer, $1,000 each
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said he pleased to have Leal on board. “Professor Leal's leadership will strengthen our world-renowned Department of Entomology,” the dean said. “His research is innovative and respected by entomologists throughout the world and has a beneficial impact on pest management in California agriculture.”
“The UC Davis Entomology Department is one of the leading entomology departments in the nation and the world,” Leal said, “and what we do here reflects on entomology everywhere.”
Leal said he accepts the leadership challenge and opportunities “that will take us to new directions and to move forward.”
Entomology professors Frank Zalom and Thomas Scott will serve as the vice chairs.
Leal joined the UC Davis entomology faculty in 2000 as an associate professor and advanced to professor in 2002. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); a past president of the International Society of Chemical Ecology ISCE); and secretary and upcoming chair-elect of Section B--the Physiology, Biochemistry, Toxicology, and Molecular Biology section--of the Entomological Society of America.
Leal received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in his native Brazil and advanced degrees from universities in Japan: his master's degree in agricultural chemistry from Mie University, and his doctorate in applied biochemistry from the University of Tsukuba.
Before joining the UC Davis faculty, Leal served as research leader of the Science and Technology Agency of Japan and the Bio-Oriented Technology Research Advancement Institute (BRAIN) and head of the Laboratory of Chemical Prospecting at the National Institute of Sericultural and Entomological Sciences in Tsukuba.
When Leal received the AAAS Fellow award earlier this year, entomology professor John Hildebrand of the University of Arizona praised him as “an international leader in entomology and one of the top chemical ecologists in the world.”
“UC Davis achieved a coup when it attracted Dr. Leal to its faculty in 2000,” Hildebrand said, adding that that Leal's “exceptional abilities and promise benefit the students and research enterprise of UC Davis as well as the entomological and chemical-ecological communities in the United States.”
UC Davis entomology professor James Carey (who teamed with Hildebrand and Robert Page, director of the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, to nominate Leal for the AAAS Fellow award), described him as “one of the most gifted scientists I know—intelligent, disciplined, creative and motivated.”
“Young scientists seek him, funding agencies support him, honorific committees award him prestigious prizes and honors, UC Davis hired him, scholars respect him and his colleagues befriend him,” Carey wrote in the nomination papers.
Leal is best known for his research on the identification and synthesis of insect sex pheromones and on the chemical ecology and chemical communication of insects and potential applications for pest control. His research has practical implications in explaining how insects communicate within species, how they detect host and non-host plants, and how insect parasites detect their prey.
Leal was just named the recipient of the 2007 Silverstein-Simeone Award in Chemical Ecology at ISCE's 22nd annual conference in Barcelona, Spain, July 15-19. Cited for “outstanding work at the frontiers of chemical ecology,” he will be presented the lecture award in Jena, Germany, in 2007. The award is named for Robert M. (Milt) Silverstein and John B. Simeone, founding editors of the Journal of Chemical Ecology.
The Department of Entomology, headquartered in Briggs Hall, is a large academic department in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences with instructional, research and outreach programs. The department is comprised of 23 faculty, 1 adjunct faculty, 4 Cooperative Extension specialists, 54 professional researchers, 18 lecturers, 9 teaching assistants, 32 graduate student researchers, and 35 academic and staff support personnel. The department currently has 23 undergraduate students and 36 graduate students.
On and off-campus sites house academic and administrative offices, laboratories, field buildings and other special facilities, including those at the UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier. The department's annual operating budget, including contracts and grants, gifts, and endowments, totals approximately $31 million.
Oct. 5, 2012
Volunteers from the campus and community are invited to participate in "The Elements of Life" project. The workshops will be held every Tuesday night from 6 to 9, Oct. 9-Nov. 27, in Rooms 126 and 128 of the Environmental Horticulture building. The building, on Old Davis Road, is located just east of the Buehler Alumni and Visitor Center, almost across from Mrak Hall.
No experience is needed to join the volunteer group, Ullman said.
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, founded in 2006, is a pioneering program in the use of an art-science fusion paradigm in undergraduate education and community outreach.
Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is the associate dean for undergraduate academic programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Billick, a self-described “rock artist,” is an alumna of UC Davis (bachelor of science degree in genetics in 1973 and her master’s degree in fine arts in 1977).
The Art/Science Fusion Program includes design faculty, science faculty, museum educators, professional artists and UC Davis students. “Participants see and feel art and science, hold it in their hands, hearts and memories—in ceramics, painting, photographs, music, and textiles,” Ullman said.
The 194 Chemistry building was renamed the Peter A. Rock Hall this fall. The name memorializes the founding dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. Rock, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 1964, served as dean for eight years until his retirement in 2003. He died June 14, 2006.
For more information on the art project, contact Diane Ullman at firstname.lastname@example.org or Donna Billick at email@example.com.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Washino, a global authority on the ecology of mosquitoes and mosquito control agents, received the prestigious medal from the American Committee of Medical Entomology at the 54th annual meeting of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), held Dec. 11-15, 2005 in Washington, D.C.
“I'm dumbfounded,” said Washino, who retired from UC Davis 13 years ago but was tapped Nov. 1 to chair the UC Davis Department of Entomology for a year. “This is overwhelming.”
Only 14 entomologists have received the medal since 1987 when Washino's mentor, mosquito-borne disease expert William C. Reeves (1916-2004) of UC Berkeley, won the honor.
Washino not only worked several years with Reeves, considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the spread and control of mosquito-borne diseases, but “met and had coffee with” parasitologist-entomologist Harry Hoogstraal (1917-1986), a global authority on ticks and tick-borne diseases who maintained research facilities in Egypt.
Last year John Edman, director of the Center for Vector Borne Diseases, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, won the medal.
Describing him as “insightful, persuasive, and a kind person with admirable integrity,” Scott praised Washino's “outstanding contributions that range from classic studies on basic and applied science to training the next generation of medical entomologists to high level and very effective administrative posts.”
Scott said that Washino's papers on anopheline and culicine mosquitoes remain the bedrock for understanding those species roles in pathogen transmission in California.”
“He is an authority on mosquito dormancy and his publications on overwintering and diapause in adult mosquitoes are required reading by people serious about understanding that topic (Washino. 1977). Bob's work on mosquito blood feeding patterns is among the best ever done on that subject. His review with Templis (Washino and Templis 1983) on mosquito blood meal identification is a classic paper in medical entomology. Bob was one of the pioneers in the application of remote sensing and GIS (geographical information systems) technologies to medical entomology.”
Medical entomologist and professor Gregory Lanzaro, director of the UC Mosquito Research Program, said he is “very pleased that Bob has been recognized for his outstanding scientific work in the field of medical entomology. This is a very well deserved honor. For me, however his contributions go beyond his science. My first contact with Bob was when I was a graduate student. I had just finished giving my first major presentation at a national conference. Bob approached me and told me how much he enjoyed my presentation and we chatted about my work for some time.”
“To have someone of Bob's caliber recognize my efforts at this point in my career was a major source of encouragement and this encounter was the highlight of the meeting for me. Throughout his career he has taken an interest in and provided enthusiastic support for students and junior scientists. Bob always seems to find the time to listen and to share his expertise. He seems as interested in turning out scientists as science, to the great benefit of those of us who have come to know him.”
Although Washino retired 13 years ago, he's been tapped or “recalled” for three administrative posts since 1996. He served from 1996 to 2001 as the special assistant to the dean of the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. On Nov. 1, he began chairing the Department of Entomology, a position he also held from 1981-87. In addition, he serves as the interim co-director of the Center for Vector Borne Diseases, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Born and reared in Sacramento, Washino never strayed far from his roots, except for two years in France as a medical entomologist with the Army Medical Service Corps during the Korean War. His parents, natives of Japan, grew hops on their farm in the Sacramento Valley. Later his father became a successful Sacramento florist shop and hotel owner.
Washino said a career in biomedical sciences always intrigued him, “but there was no one event that led me to a career in medical entomology. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Initially interested in bacteriology (he received his bachelor's degree in public health in 1954 from UC Berkeley), he credits an epidemiology course, taught by the very same William C. Reeves, in fueling his interest in mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases.
“This was a year after Western equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis broke out in California,” said Washino, who, as a Berkeley student, interned for a local public health department in a mosquito surveillance program. “Being the new kid on the block, I was given the task of setting out traps and identifying mosquitoes from the weekly trap operations.”
The work cemented his interest in entomology. He received his master's degree in entomology in 1956 from UC Davis and his doctorate there in 1967. In between, as an Army Medical Service Corps medical entomologist in France, he became interested in mosquito-borne disease outbreaks among rabbits.
“After I left the Army, I worked for Bill Reeves as a National Institutes of Health predoctoral fellow,” Washino recalled. “Bill was mentor to me; I worked for him for three years in research on mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases.”
Washino joined the UC Davis faculty in 1967 and never looked back.
Washino, a father of three and a grandfather of four (he and his wife, Connie live in Davis will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next March) describes his long and diverse career, working at county, state, national and international levels, as “challenging, productive, exciting, and most of all, fun.”
“It's been a positive experience,” he said. “I've met so many people and gone so many places. I wouldn't trade it for anything.”
Washino published 193 papers and abstracts on topics related to mosquito biology, ecology, and control. He co-authored the last complete treatise on the Mosquitoes of California. As a principal investigator, his research work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, United States Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other agencies.
Washino served as president of both the American Mosquito Control Association and the California Mosquito and Vector Control Association, and was active in organizations ranging from the Entomological Society of America to the World Health Organization. He's a former associate editor of California Agriculture.
Since 1973, Washino has served as the Davis representative on the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District Board (SYMVCD). “Bob is a tremendous asset to our board,” said SYMVCD manager Dave Brown, “and I feel blessed to have someone of his knowledge about vector ecology as a resource. I've had the opportunity to bounce ideas off of him on numerous occasions in efforts to enhance our entire vector control program. Without his guidance and tutelage, I am sure our program would not be as effective as it is today.”
Washino said the district's surveillance program is “probably the most ambitious in the country. A laboratory on the district grounds bears his name.
And now, the Harry Hoogstraal Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Entomology bears his name, too.
"I've led a very charmed life,” he said.
List of Recipients Includes Five UC Entomologists
Since 1987, five University of California medical entomologists have received the coveted Harry Hoogstraal Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Entomology. It is given not by year, but by merit. Parasitologist-entomologist Harry Hoogstraal (1917-1986), based in Egypt, was a global authority on ticks and tick-borne diseases.
- 2005: Robert K. Washino, UC Davis
- 2004: John D. Edman, UC Davis
- 2003: Andrew Spielman, Harvard School of Public Health
- 2002: Michael Service, University of Liverpool
- 2000: Chris Curtis, University of London
- 1998: Gene DeFoliart, University of Wisconsin
- 1995: A. Ralph Barr, UCLA
- 1993: Thomas H. G. Aitken, UCLA
- 1992: James H. Oliver, University of Georgia
- 1991: William L. Jellison, United States Public Health Service, Montana
- 1990: William R. Horsfall, University of Illinois
- 1989: Robert Traub, University of Maryland
- 1988: Lloyd E. Rozeboom, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health
- 1987: William C. Reeves, UC Berkeley