Boudinot presented a talk in Germany at the 9th Dresden Meeting on Insect Phylogeny, hosted by the Senckenberg Institute. In his presentation, "Skeletomuscular Evolution of Male Insect Genitalia, with Emphasis on the Endopterygota," he explained the second chapter of his thesis to an international audience of entomologists, spanning phylogeneticists to anatomists.
At the XXIV Simpósio de Mirmecologia in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Boudinot will present preliminary results from his third and final thesis chapter in a symposium titled "Morphology Reloaded: Conquering the Third Dimension of Ant Evolution and Biogeography." His talk is titled "Altered States: Aculeate Anatomy and the Early Evolution of the Formicoidea."
"While this symposium is focused on the application of scanning technologies, such as X-ray computed microtomography, I will be speaking about the evolution of ant morphology through evolutionary time," Boudinot related. He will be presenting results from combined phylogenetic analysis of genome-scale DNA sequence data and a massive dataset of 576 morphological characters scored for 573 species.
"One of the novel aspects of my study is how many fossils I have included (more than 300)," Boudinot said. "The objective of this particular work is to estimate the geological age in which the ants originated, as well as the physical features of the ancestral ant, which I will then use to trace evolutionary and paleoecological patterns to the modern fauna."
Boudinot received the prestigious John Henry Comstock Award in April at the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA) meeting in San Diego. This is the highest graduate student award given by PBESA, which encompasses 11 Western states, U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico. Its parent organization, the Entomological Society of America (ESA), will honor the six Comstock award winners--one from each branch--at its Nov. 17-20 meeting in St. Louis.
Boudinot, who was praised for his academic record, leadership, public service activities, participation in professional activities, and his publications, is the sixth UC Davis recipient of the Comstock award:
2019: Brendon Boudinot (major professor Phil Ward)
2015: Mohammad-Amir Aghaee (major professor the late Larry Godfrey)
2014: Kelly Hamby (major professor Frank Zalom)
2013: Matan Shelomi (major professor Lynn Kimsey)
2008: Christopher Barker (major professor William Reisen)
1983: Elaine Backus (major professor the late Donald McLean)
Active in PBESA and ESA, Boudinot received multiple “President's Prize” awards for his research presentations at national ESA meetings. He organized the ESA symposium, “Evolutionary and Phylogenetic Morphology,” at the 2018 meeting in Vancouver, B.C. , and delivered a presentation on “Male Ants: Past, Present and Prospects” at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Boudinot served on—and anchored—three of the UC Davis Linnaean Games teams that won national or international ESA championships. The Linnaean Games are a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams.
Boudinot has served as president of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association since 2006, and is active in the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day; he has co-chaired the department's Picnic Day Committee since 2017.
If you're the kin of Emily Bick, you take her to the Broadway stage musical, Beetlejuice, in New York City. They knew she'd be interested because (1) she's an entomologist (2) she enjoys entomology-themed shows and (3) she previously reviewed another play, “An Entomologist's Love Story,” which Entomological Society of America (ESA) published on its Entomology Today website. That piece drew rave reviews.
So, in keeping with her newly acquired “entomological theater critic credentials,” Bick reviewed Beetlejuice. Entomology Today published her piece today (Sept. 20.)
“I entered the experience knowing little about the shop but with high hopes for its entomological potential since its name appeared to reference Order Coleoptera's common name,” wrote Bick, an agricultural entomologist who will begin a postdoctoral position at the University of Copenhagen this fall.
She began with: “Like a caterpillar recently exposed to juvenile hormone, the insect-themed potential for the musical Beetlejuice was high but never quite metamorphosized.”
Bick noted there were several entomological references, including “two Scarabaeidae camouflaged within the black and white stripes” on the playbook cover.
“While writers opted for entomology appropriate spelling in both the title and song, the stage curtain listed the name as Betelgeuse,” she wrote. “This entomologically named character mentions a few throw away references to insects including describing his alarming goal of house haunting—by saying ‘frightened as a fly.'”
One character “was threatened with having teeth transformed into scorpions—an arthropod but not an insect,” Bick pointed out. “The demon-transformed house was decorated with chairs the spitting image of Tortoise beetle larvae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae, tribe: Cassidini) and a statue that reminded me of many immature Lepidopterans.”
“However, insect references were always used to enhance the macabre theme, rather than as an independent topic. The musical was about death, a subject of which insects have a long association with. This association is likely due to the progression of insect colonization on an animal corpse—a process so predictable, forensic entomology is often used to determine the time of death of the recently deceased. Their correlation was expanded in the era of sideshows which featured insects as bizarre. I found myself wistfully thinking of all the places insects could be used (e.g., every reference to decomposing), rather than simply propping up the ghoulish atmosphere.”
Although the show lacked insect credibility, she found the show incredible. “It was hilarious, clever, attuned to the times, and visually stunning, and the ‘goth' character Lydia (played by 18-year-old Sophia Anne Caruso) completely stole the show. Yet, judged on entomological criterion, Beetlejuice fell short of its potential.”
The Broadway stage musical is based on the film, Beetlejuice, the 1988 American fantasy-comedy-horror film directed by Tim Burton (Pee Wee's Big Adventure). It is about "a deceased couple who try to haunt the new inhabitants of their former home and call for help from a devious bio-exorcist ghost named Betelgeuse (pronounced "Beetlejuice"), who is summoned by saying his name three times," according to Wikipedia.
Bick holds three degrees in entomology: a bachelor's degree from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and a master's degree and doctorate from UC Davis. She is a Board Certified Entomologist (with specialties in plant-insect and medical and veterinary entomology), awarded by ESA. While at UC Davis, she was active in the Linnaean Games and helped two teams win national championships. ESA describes the Linnaean Games as "a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams."
(Entomologist-theatre critic Bick may be reached at email@example.com.)
Bee scientist James Nieh, a UC San Diego professor in the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, Division of Biological Sciences, will present the first fall quarter seminar hosted by UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Nieh will speak on "Animal Information Warfare: How Sophisticated Communications May Arise from the Race to Find an Advantage in a Deadly Game Between Honey Bees and Their Predators" at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 25 in 122 Briggs Hall. Brian Johnson, associate professor of entomology, is the host.
"In addition to the classical arm race that has evolved between predators and prey, information races also occur, which can lead to the evolution of sophisticated animal communication," Nieh says in his abstract. "Such information can shape the food web and contribute to the evolution of remarkable communication strategies, including eavesdropping, referential signaling and communication within and between species, including between predators and prey."
"I focus on the world of information exchange (acoustic, olfactory and visual) that has co-evolved between Asian honey bees (Apis cerana, A. florea, and A. dorsata) and their predators, the Asian hornets (Vespa velutina and V. mandarinia)," Nieh says. "I will explore how and why such information races occur through the remarkable examples provided by these high social insects."
He presented a TED talk on "Bees and Us: an Ancient and Future Symbiosis" in July 2019.
A native of Taiwan, Nieh grew up in Southern California and received his bachelor's degree in organismic and evolutionary biology in 1991 from Harvard University, Cambridge, and his doctorate in neurobiology and behavior from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., in 1997. He subsequently received an NSF-NATO postdoctoral fellowship to study at the University of Würzburg in German. A Harvard junior fellowship followed.
Nieh joined the faculty of the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution in 1997 as an assistant professor, advancing to associate professor in 2007 and professor in 2009. He served as vice chair of the section from 2009 to 2014, and as chair from 2014 to 2017.
His latest co-authored research, published in the journal Chemosphere in 2019, is titled Combined Nutritional Stress and a New Systemic Pesticide (flupyradifurone, Sivanto®) Reduce Bee Survival, Food Consumption, Flight Success, and Thermoregulation.
They begin Oct. 15 and conclude on April 16, announced Jennifer Lynn Voight (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Tracy and Ruth Storer Lectureships in Life Sciences are considered the most prestigious of the endowed seminars at UC Davis.
Established in 1960, the Storer Endowment makes it is possible to invite distinguished biological scientists to campus to present two lectures and meet with faculty members and graduate students in their field of interest.
Ever tasted a cricket? A mealworm? An earthworm?
You can if you attend the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house themed "Gobble, Gobble, Munch, Munch, Crunch: Entomophagy,” to be held from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
Open to the public, it's free and family friendly, said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis.
“The theme is entomophagy and we have some samples from various companies coming our way,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. Companies providing samples include Hotlix, Exo and Chirps Chips.
Said Kimsey: "Many insects are quite edible and if you try them you might find that crickets are the new shrimp. Personally, I like flavored mealworms."
"Just think of insects as terrestrial shrimp or crab," said senior museum scientist Steve Heydon.
The event will include learning about entomophagy, sampling insect-based foods, button-making (“I ate a bug at the Bohart”), viewing the collection, and handling insects from the petting zoo, which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas. Yang and Bohart associate Emma Cluff recently completed an online training for food handling, as required by UC Davis.
In preparation for the event, Bohart Museum volunteer Iris Bright, a second-year biology major at Sacramento City College, sampled crickets, mealworms and earthworms last week.
Bright liked them all. “They're good,” she said, as she tasted red, green and blue earthworms. She described them as having "a sweet and sour taste." The mealworms? “Somewhat cheesy.”
“The crickets are crunchy," she said, adding "I've had them before.”
Eighty percent of the world population, including those living in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, consume insects as a high protein source. Some 1700 species of insects are edible.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has registered some 1,900 edible insect species and estimates that there were, in 2005, some two billion insect consumers worldwide. FAO suggests eating insects as a possible solution to environmental degradation caused by livestock production. Insects and arachnids eaten globally include crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, ants, various beetle grubs (such as mealworms, the larvae of the darkling beetle, various species of caterpillars (such as bamboo worms, Mopani worms, silkworms and waxworms), scorpions and tarantulas, according to Wikipedia.
Spencer Michels in a PBS News Hour report in May 2017, commented: “But the big advantage of eating insects is that they are generally healthier than meat. A six-ounce serving of crickets has 60 percent less saturated fat and twice as much vitamin B-12 than the same amount of ground beef. ..Bugs also don't spread disease to humans the way cows — think mad cow disease– or pigs can.”
“I do realize that insects do have a bad rap,” California Academy of Sciences entomologist Brian Fisher recently said. “Most people see insects are pests or as dangerous. But it's just the opposite. Insects are less dangerous and less of a problem for humans in terms of disease."
“We do have concerns about disease jumping from animals like pigs and cows to humans,” Fisher said. “But there are no worries about a disease jumping from an insect to humans. The more evolutionary distant we are from our food source, the less danger there is. … There is almost zero chance that any disease that affects an insect could actually impact a human after it's cooked.”
Celebrity bug chef David George Gordon, author of the “Eat-a-Bug” cookbook, extolled the virtues of the “bugs as food” movement when he addressed a UC Davis audience in 2014 at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. Insects are an environmentally friendly source of protein, he said, and bug farming reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is exponentially more water-efficient than farming for beef, chicken, or pigs.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum. It maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects, tarantulas, and praying mantids. The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The museum is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., except on holidays. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or email@example.com. (See list of open houses for the 2019-2020 academic year.)