Collect the first cabbage white butterfly of the year in the three-county area of Sacramento, Solano and Yolo and win a pitcher of beer or its equivalent, compliments of Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology.
Shapiro is sponsoring his 48th annual Beer-for-a-Butterfly Contest and it's all in the name of research to determine the first flight of the cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae. Since 1972, when he launched the contest, the first flight has varied from Jan. 1 to Feb. 22, averaging about Jan. 20.
The butterfly inhabits vacant lots, fields and gardens where its host plants, weedy mustards, grow. The male is white. The female is often slightly buffy; the "underside of the hindwing and apex of the forewing may be distinctly yellow and normally have a gray cast,” Shapiro said. “The black dots and apical spot on the upperside tend to be faint or even to disappear really early in the season.”
The contest rules include:
- It must be an adult (no caterpillars or pupae) and be captured outdoors.
- It must be delivered alive to the department office, 2320 Storer Hall, UC Davis, during work hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the full data (exact time, date and location of the capture) and your name, address, phone number and/or e-mail. The receptionist will certify that it is alive and refrigerate it. (If you collect it on a weekend or holiday, keep it in a refrigerator; do not freeze. A few days in the fridge will not harm it, Shapiro says.)
- Shapiro is the sole judge.
Shapiro, who maintains a research website at http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu, usually wins his own contest and did so again in 2019. He collected the winner near the Suisun Yacht Club, Suisun City, Solano County, at 1:12 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25.
Shapiro has been defeated only four times, and all by UC Davis graduate students. Jacob Montgomery defeated him in 2016, and his graduate student, Adam Porter, won in 1983. His graduate students Sherri Graves and Rick VanBuskirk defeated him in the late 1990s.
The list of winners, dates and locations since 2010:
- 2019: Jan. 25: Art Shapiro collected the winner near the Suisun Yacht Club, Solano County
- 2018: Jan. 19: Art Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento, Yolo County
- 2017: Jan. 19: Art Shapiro collected the winner on the UC Davis campus
- 2016: Jan. 16: Jacob Montgomery, UC Davis graduate student, collected the winner in west Davis
- 2015: Jan. 26: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2014: Jan. 14: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2013: Jan. 21: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2012: Jan. 8: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2011: Jan. 31: Shapiro collected the winner in Suisun, Solano County
- 2010: Jan. 27: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
The 2019 winner was the earliest recorded in Suisun City in 47 seasons, said Shapiro. His notes from Jan. 25 read: “Very little in bloom: many dandelions, one Eucalyptus, three Hirschfeldia (mustard), two Raphanus (radish), many Malva (mallow) and a few Picris (sunflower family). Site still 30 percent flooded. I went to all the usual Vanessa (butterfly) places and found nothing. I searched more than 100 Malva plants for larvae and found nothing. But near the Suisun Yacht Club (703 Civic Center Blvd., Suisun City) at 1:12 p.m. I saw a rapae. It didn't land and I had to take it in the air. It's a small and very heavily infuscated male.” It had just eclosed that day, he said.
The UC Davis professor has monitored butterfly population trends on a transect across central California since 1972 and records the information on his research website. His 10 sites stretch from the Sacramento River Delta through the Sacramento Valley and Sierra Nevada mountains to the high desert of the Western Great Basin. He visits his sites every two weeks "to record what's out" from spring to fall, weather permitting. He has studied more than 160 species of butterflies in his transect. The largest and oldest database in North America, it was recently cited by British conservation biologist Chris Thomas in a worldwide study of insect biomass.
Shapiro and illustrator Timothy D. Manolis co-authored A Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions, published in 2007 by the University of California Press. Shapiro is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Entomological Society, and the California Academy of Sciences.
For more information, contact Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The book, Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods, is the work of Carey and Deborah Roach, a University of Virginia biology professor and a past president of the Evolutionary Demographic Society. The landmark book will be published Jan. 7 by Princeton University Press.
Carey, one of the founding fathers of the interdisciplinary field and considered the global authority on arthropod demography, describes the field of biodemography as linking a number of professions. “It is an essential resource for demographers, epidemiologists, gerontologists, and health professionals as well as ecologists, population biologists, entomologists, and conservation biologists.”
“The authors aim to enlighten and inspire and they succeed,” Vaupel wrote. He cited the important and innovative ideas, mode of explanation, and the graphic illustrations, all of which make the book “sparkle.”
Carey and Roach cover everything from baseline demographic concepts to biodemographic applications, and “present models and equations in discrete rather than continuous form to enhance mathematical accessibility,” according to Princeton University. (Watch Carey's book trailer on YouTube)
Topics range from kinship theory and family demography to reliability engineering and tort law, and also demographic disasters such as the Titanic and the destruction of Napoleon's Grande Armée. It also includes an analysis about the Donner Party.
The authors point out the differences in survival, “such that the young and old died at higher rates than the middle-aged. Indeed with one exception, no individuals of ether sex beyond 49 years survived. Males not only died at roughly twice the overall rate as females, but many males also died earlier in the disaster period. Third, kinship size and association were important to survival; individuals not associated with a kinship group died at much higher rates than those who were associated with a group.”
Carey, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley and studied population biology for a year at Harvard while working on his doctorate, joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1980. He served as the principal investigator of a 10-year, $10 million federal grant on “Aging in the Wild,” encompassing 14 scientists at 11 universities.
Highly honored for his research, teaching and public service, Carey is a fellow of four organizations; American Association for the Advancement of Science, Entomological Society of America, California Academy of Science and the Gerontological Society of America.
(Editor's Note: To purchase the book, access the Princeton University Press website.)
Elvira Galvan Hack, staff advisor for students in the Animal Biology (ABI) major, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and ABI master advisor Robert Kimsey, forensic entomologist and lecturer in the department, are drawing acolades for winning major advising awards from Region 9 of NACADA, the Global Community for Academic Advising.
Hack won the category, Excellence in Advising Award, Advisor Primary Role. Kimsey won a certificate of merit, Excellence in Advising, Faculty Advisor category. The region covers California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Honora Knopp, academic advisor for undergraduate academic programs in the dean's office, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, won the Excellence in Advising Award, Advising Equity Champion.
They will be honored at the Region 9 conference, set April 23-25 in Palm Springs.
Elvira Galvan Hack
Hack, a 17-year academic advisor, was hired in October 2007 as the new undergraduate staff advisor for the animal biology major, then located in the Department of Nematology.
“Elvira is likely the best academic advisor ever,” Kimsey wrote in the application. “Not only is she completely conversant with all the rules and regulations of the major, but understands the latitude of flexibility built into their application in a very human way. She is connected with all the administrative functionaries necessary to efficiently accomplish any task in a timely manner. For the confused or troubled student, she is the first and last resort for the solution of problems not only of an academic or administrative kind but those of a deeply personal nature as well. She keeps them on track, outlining their options, helping them decide on their future professions, and the direction their life should take. She has been invaluable to me as the master advisor. She really does care about a student's fate. Moreover we have had great fun doing these tasks together.”
Hack describes her philosophy of advising:"My overall philosophy is that students should feel welcome, respected and treasured. I ensure that my advising office is a warm, friendly, and an inviting place, an all-inclusive place where students can feel both comfortable and safe. They can trust me: they can trust me to listen, they can trust me to be heard, and they can trust me that they will be understood, supported and valued. I maintain an open door policy. I am here to provide them with advice, assistance and tools at a time when they need it the most. If they are experiencing a problem, I make time for them immediately, no matter the hour. I assure them that it is better for them to seek assistance now, than for them to head home and worry about it for hours or days. I emphasize how important self-care is because, frankly, they can be so hard on themselves. In the classroom, they may struggle with the instructor, content, assignments, grades and peers, but in my office, it's a positive experience. I assure them that they belong here, that they are appreciated, and that they are celebrated like family. My students know that I care. For example, I know that many students develop food insecurities due to monetary or time restraints. Thus, I stock a table with healthy snacks and encourage them to “drop in and grab a quick snack” in between classes or when they are working on research projects in their lab."
Students highly praise her work, dedication and kindness. “During my first quarter as a transfer student, I went through some extreme life changes and emotional rollercoasters,” one student said. “I would end up in her office crying my eyes out and in distraught, but she always calmed me down and helped me reach out for other help to get me through my rough patch.”
Another student described Elvira “as by far the most helpful, kind and encouraging adviser I have met at UC Davis. Being a first-generation college student, I require extra help in understanding and executing graduation requirements and other criteria for my future career goals.”
Kimsey, master advisor for the ABI major since 2010 and an ABI lecturer since 2001, “excels at teaching, advising and mentoring,” wrote nominator Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “He sincerely cares about each student, and incredibly, remembers their conversations and their interests.”Kimsey wrote in part about his philosophy of advising: "In a broad sense, advising at the undergraduate level requires a good and objective listener, broad experience in life, a source of diverse perspectives to tackle any potential problem, an ability to put oneself in the other person's place, and really caring about and enjoying other people."
Kimsey's teaching philosophy: "I think that humans learn best together, where one person demonstrates the process or disseminates the knowledge to solve a problem to another person, and then together they solve the problem. The problem may be proximal and practical or abstract and conceptual. Following instruction, the teacher may participate with groups of students to solve problems, and there exist many other variations on teaching that adhere to this simple theme. But the principal components remain the same: demonstration or dissemination of knowledge followed by cooperative application. This is likely the most ancient of teaching concepts, and to the extent recent innovations in teaching method return to this simple process and replace simple lecturing, it continues to be the most effective."
Kimsey is known for expertly guiding students toward career paths, helping them meet challenges and overcome obstacles.
“I view Dr. Kimsey as the epitome of what a university professor and student advisor should be,” wrote doctoral student Alex Dedmon, who has worked with him for 10 years, first as an undergraduate student in 2009 and now as a doctoral candidate. “Over that time, he has filled many roles in my life and career--a mentor, teacher, advisor, major professor, and friend.”
Kimsey continues to draw accolades from Rate My Professors, an online student forum:
- “Dr. Kimsey is by far one of the best professors at UC Davis. His class never fails to entertain! You do need to put in the work to do well but it is very worth it! Dr. Kimsey truly cares about his students and wants to see them succeed and find a path that best suits them. Strongly recommend!”
- "This was the best class I've taken at UC Davis. You can tell that Dr. Kimsey really cares, and puts a lot of effort into his class.”
Both Kimsey and Hack are recipients of other major awards this year. Kimsey won the 2019 UC Davis Outstanding Advisor Award. Hack was honored at the 2019 Staff Assembly's Citation for Excellence Program, receiving an honorable mention and cash award in the highly competitive Individual Service Award category.
Both Kimsey and Hack shared the 2019 Eleanor and Harry Walker Advising Awards from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, for top faculty advisor and top staff advisor, respectively. The awards honor excellence and innovation in academic advising.
NACADA' s vision is to recognize that "effective academic advising is at the core of student success." Its mission is is to promote student success by advancing the field of academic advising globally. The organization provides opportunities for professional development, networking, and leadership in its diverse membership,
The grants, announced Dec. 13, total $1.1 million.
Grettenberger and his UC Davis research collaborators will receive $499,847 for “A Proactive Approach to Prepare for the Invasion of Tuta absoluta into California.” T. absoluta, a tomato leafminer, is a serious pest throughout Europe, Africa, western Asia and South and Central America and could decimate California's tomato industry, a CDFA spokesman said. “This project will proactively test targeted insecticides, identify native natural enemies that could be used in biological control, and conduct work to assist in breeding plants resistant to this pest. This project will be conducted at UC Davis, throughout California, and in Chile and Peru."
Grettenberger and co-project leaders Alejandro Del Pozo-Valdivia and Daniel Hasegawa of the UC Davis Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), will receive $261,543 for “Detection, Biology and control of the Exotic Swede Midge (Contarinia nasturtii) for California Cole Crops.” Swede midge, a pest of cole crops in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, could cause significant management issues for California's large cole crop industry, a CDFA spokesperson said. “This project will collect important information about the biology of Swede midge, test low impact insecticides and botanical products as options for control, assess the possibility of weeds as alternative hosts, and work with growers to start monitoring for the pest. This project will be conducted mainly at UC Davis and in the Salinas Valley.”
The third CDFA grant of $348,893 went to project leaders Mark Hoddle and Jocelyn Millar of UC Riverside for “Proactive Management of Avocado Seed and Stem Feeding Weevils, Heilipus spp. (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Molytinae).” This project will develop pheromones, identify natural enemies in the host range, and quantify flight capacity of the avocado seed weevils, a CDFA spokesperson said. The weevils, native to Mexico and invasive in Ecuador, feed directly on avocados and could cause substantial damage to the California avocado industry, a CDFA spokesman said. "The California Avocado Commission pledged an additional $150,000 to support this project, a testament to their concern over this pest. The work will be conducted mainly at UC Riverside and in Mexico. “
Each project received strong support from commodities that could be affected by invasive pests. A review committee, of scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of California, state government and private pest control advisors, scored the proposals and recommended the recipients.
CDFA is responsible for preventing and mitigating invasive pests in California.
- The Proactive IPM Solutions grants program targets exotic pests likely to arrive in California. It aims to identify and test IPM strategies that can be rapidly implemented if the pests become established in California.
- OPCA, created to provide consultation to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), focuses on potential pesticide regulatory impacts and pest management alternatives that may mitigate or prevent such impacts on production agriculture.
Grettenberger, who joined the UC Davis faculty earlier this year, replaces the late Larry Godfrey, who died of cancer April 18, 2017. Grettenberger holds a bachelor of science degree from Western Washington University and a doctorate from Pennsylvania State University. His areas of expertise include field and vegetable crops; insects, mites and other arthropods affecting plants; biological control of pests affecting plants; and beneficial insects.
When UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal delivered the Founders' Memorial Lecture at the recent Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting in St. Louis, Mo., he repeatedly asked that question as he honored the legendary Tom Eisner (1929-2011), known as “the father of chemical ecology” and “the world's best scientist.”
Speaking on “Tom Eisner: an Incorrigible Entomophile and Innovator Par Excellence,” Leal, a distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, chronicled Eisner's rejections, acceptances and accomplishments. His lecture drew smiles, laughter and tears and a live tweet from former ESA president May Berenbaum: “Brilliant Founders' Memorial Lecture by Walter Leal honoring the legendary Tom Eisner! Informative, inspiring, insightful – incredible!”
Leal, a chemical ecologist whose own exemplary career spans three decades and includes major discoveries and national and international honors, said he built his career on Eisner's work.
Tom, born to chemist Hans Eisner and artist Margarete Heil-Eisner, fled Nazi Germany in April 1933 with his family and lived in Spain and Uruguay before settling in the United States in 1947. Insects always fascinated him. At age 11, Tom's mother sketched him pinning insects, an inkling of what was to come. On his 12th birthday, his parents gave him a book on butterflies, his first insect book. He would become a world-renowned field biologist whose discoveries repeatedly landed on the covers of Science. He would receive the National Medical of Science (1994). His research on the defensive bombardier beetle spray and his nine books, including For Love of Insects and Secret Weapons: Defenses of Insects, Spiders, Scorpions and Many Other Legged Creatures, would drew international acclaim.
At age 17, Tom emerged as a budding scientist, accomplished pianist, and multilingual in German, French, Spanish, and English. He worked with bee biologist Charles Michener of the American Museum of Natural History, who encouraged him to study entomology. But when Tom applied to Cornell University, hoping to begin his undergraduate studies, he received a crushing rejection letter.
Leal showcased the letter on his PowerPoint presentation, paused for effect, and then quipped “OK, boomer!” as the audience roared.
Leal compared the rejection to what basketball legend Michael Jordan experienced in failing to gain a spot on his high school team. “Michael Jordan was the Tom Eisner of NBA,” Leal told the crowd.
Determined to succeed, Tom went on to attend community college, and obtain his bachelor's degree (1951) and his doctorate (1955) in biology from Harvard. In 1952, he married Maria Löbell, an accomplished scientist and pianist (they played duets on their Steinway pianos). They were wed 58 years. The marriage produced three daughters.
Ironically, 10 years after Cornell officials sent him the “Dear Tom” letter, they hired him as an assistant professor. He advanced to associate professor in 1962, full professor in 1966, and then the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Chemical Ecology in 1976. He retired in 2006 but worked many years past retirement. All the while, Eisner kept Cornell's rejection letter prominently displayed on his office wall.
Eisner was not only a renowned scientist and an accomplished classical pianist but a masterful photographer and videographer known for capturing the images of the explosive defensive discharge of the bombardier beetle.
Eisner and his close friend and collaborator Cornell chemical professor Jerry Meinwald (1927-2018), made music and science discoveries together. Photos show Eisner playing the piano, and Meinwald, the flute. And together, Leal related, “The Tom and Jerry of the Scientific World” co-authored more than 150 papers.
Laughter erupted when Leal pointed out that for many academicians, the student online commentary, “Rate My Professor” often turns out to be “Hate My Professor.”
But not for Tom Eisner. Typical of the unsolicited student comments: “This guy is a living legend. He has over 500 published papers, and has been the pioneer for the field of chemical ecology His story-telling is fantastic, and all of the stuff he talks about is just so interesting. One of my favorite professors that I have ever had, I stand in awe of his accomplishment as a researcher and a teacher.”
Where is Tom's entomology kit? Does anybody know?
Leal said that Eisner carried his burlap kit in the field for decades, performing insect research on four continents and producing important discoveries. It contained collecting jars, tweezers, toothpicks, dissecting tools and entomology books. Using the kit, he dissected insects, milked venom, and analyzed the results.
With suspense building, Leal finally revealed the whereabouts of the kit.
Who inherited the kit? A 14-year-old bug enthusiast named Katherine Angier, daughter of celebrated New York Times writer Natalie Angier. Eisner also gifted her with his first insect book.
Eisner, who met Katherine at age 5, marveled at her childhood fascination with insects, similar to his perpetual childlike wonder of insects. They kept in touch for a decade.
“She has now graduated from Princeton summa cum laude in biology,” Leal told the crowd, “and she's here in the audience.”
Tears flowed as Angier walked on stage shouldering Eisner's familiar burlap bag, lettered simply with “Tom Eisner.”
The renowned scientist and the inquisitive kindergartner connected. “We went to his house in Ithaca and we just wandered around a field looking for bugs together. And even my kindergartner brain knew it was something I would never forget.”
So for the next decade, young Katherine would write him letters “describing cool bugs that I would see and their behaviors and he was always so encouraging with his replies. He even sent me a dissecting scope that I could use to examine them.”
“Eventually I couldn't read his replies because his Parkinson's disease--it was getting worse. And when I was 14, he did send me this kit, which at first I was really happy about because it had all these really cool things in it, but then when he died (at age 81) shortly thereafter, I realized it was kind of a goodbye kit.”
During her senior year in college, “I started this senior thesis research on an ant plant mutualism in Panama and I decided it was time (to use the kit),” Angier said. “I felt like I was finally going to join the world of entomologists so I brought it with me and I thought it was kind of a good-luck charm.”
“So thank you, Tom, for being there with me and I just want to say that I hope he'd be proud that I (evolved) from a kid hardly able to pronounce the word entomology to now applying for a PhD.”
The thundering applause drowned out the rest of the comments.
The seminar culminated with Leal donating his $1000 honorarium to the ESA Chrysalis Fund, which supports and enhances insect education for kindergarten-12th grade students.
Accolades on the memorable lecture continue to stream in.
Cornell alumnus May Berenbaum, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois, and a close friend of Eisner's, recommends that all entomology students watch Leal's seminar. (See her biography on Eisner).
Doctoral candidate and ant specialist Brendon Boudinot of the UC Davis Department of Entomology agrees. “Honestly, I didn't know what to expect for Walter's talk. It was a really personal and emphatic portrait of Thomas Eisner. I've known Eisner's work even before I knew I was going to be an entomologist—in fact, upon reading his book For Love of Insects, I knew that entomology was a direction I should go. Walter's talk walked the audience through Eisner's early life and included numerous video clips of researchers relating their experiences and thoughts about him. The whole talk was engaging, but it is true: We, the audience, were in physical tears for the sadness of his loss. Because there is a recording, I can only recommend watching that. Again, I didn't know what to expect, but I was very glad I came. It was one of the most remarkable talks I have ever been to.”
Noted chemical ecologist Wendell Roelofs of Cornell University, who watched the seminar on YouTube, described the lecture as “so fantastic and compelling that I could not turn it off.”
Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research at Pennsylvania State University, commented: “This was a truly amazing and inspiring lecture, which gave a wonderfully holistic view of how Eisner's personal and professional experiences, love of insects, and intense curiosity lead to such remarkable achievements. The videos from diverse entomologists sharing their personal memories of Eisner eloquently captured his profound influence on the community and the field of chemical ecology."
Chemical ecologist Anne Jones of Pennsylvania State University said she particularly “enjoyed all the video clips of so many other important chemical ecologists (some of whom I've had the honor to meet) sharing their memories and stories about Dr. Eisner. It was very special to hear from and meet Katherine Angier as well.”
Jones added: “I grew up hearing about his and Jerry Meinwald's collaborations and discoveries (my dad is Tappey Jones) and read Dr. Eisner's book, For Love of Insects, when it was published…I know that my career path has very much been shaped by the research and inspiration by all of you who were so integral as pioneers in that field.”
One of the videos depicts an interview with honey bee geneticist Robert Page Jr., UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology and Arizona State University emeritus university provost.
Page recalled that as a graduate student at UC Davis, he remembered reading Eisner's papers in Science. “I was always waiting for the next great exciting discovery he would do with all the intricate clever stories.”
- Walter Leal's Founder's Memorial Lecture on YouTube
- Paths of Discovery, Lighted by a Bug Man's Insights, by Natalie Angier, New York Times
- May Berenbaum's Biography of Tom Eisner