Coordinated by assistant professor and community ecologist Rachel Vannette, the seminars will take place at 4:10 p.m., every Wednesday in Room 122 of Briggs Hall through Dec. 5 except on Nov. 20 (no seminar due to the Entomological Society of America meeting in St. Louis, Mo).
James Nieh, professor, Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, Department of Biological Sciences, UC San Diego
Topic: "Animal Information Warfare: How Sophisticated Communication May Arise from the Race to Find an Advantage in a Deadly Game Between Honey Bees and their Predators" (See lab website)
Host: Brian Johnson, associate professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology
Nathan Schroeder, assistant professor, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Topic: "Stem Cells and Neurobiology of Nematodes"
Host: Shahid Saddique, assistant professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology
John Mola, doctoral candidate, Neal Williams lab, Graduate Group in Ecology
Exit seminar: "Bumble Bee Movement Ecology and Response to Wildfire." Mola specializes in bee biology, pollinator ecology and population genetics.
Host: Neal Williams, professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology
Rebecca Irwin, professor of applied ecology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.
Topic: "The Role of Floral Traits in Pollination and Bee Disease Transmission." She specializes in the ecology and evolution of multiple-species interactions, pollination biology, and species invasions
Host: Rachel Vannette, assistant professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology
Julián Hillyer, director of the program in career development and associate professor of biological sciences, Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation, Nashville, Tenn.
Topic: "Not So Heartless: Functional Integration of the Immune and Circulatory Systems of Mosquitoes"
Host: Olivia Winokur, graduate student, Chris Barker lab
Takato Imaizumi, professor, Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle
Topic: Circadian Timing Mechanisms in Plant-Pollinator Interaction"
Host: Joanna Chiu, associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology
Brock Harpur, assistant professor, Department of Entomology, Purdue University
Topic: "Caste Differentiation in Honey Bees from the Bottom Up"
Host: Santiago Ramirez, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology, College of Biological Sciences
Allison Hansen, assistant professor, Department of Entomology, UC Riverside
Topic: Insect Herbivore-Microbe Interactions
Host: Clare Casteeel, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology
No seminar (meeting of Entomological Society of America in St. Louis, Mo.)
Jackson Audley, doctoral candidate, Louie Yang and Steve Seybold labs
Exit seminar (topic to be announced). Audley studies the walnut twig beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis, which in association with the fungus, Geosmithia morbida, causes the insect-pathogen complex known as thousand cankers disease.)
Host: Steve Seybold, lecturer, forest entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and forest entomologist and chemical ecologist with the Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Davis
More information on the fall seminars or schedule is available from Vannette at email@example.com.
The award, given by ESA's Systematics, Evolution and Biodiversity Section, recognizes outstanding research by a doctoral student who has completed a research thesis or dissertation in arthropod morphology, systematics, taxonomy, or evolution. The prize is a $500 cash award and an invited talk at ESA. She'll speak on "Unraveling the Evolution of Spider flies (Diptera, Acroceridae): Progress and Possibilities" at the ESA's annual meeting, set Nov. 17-20 in St. Louis, Mo.
Gillung is the first UC Davis student to receive the award, which was first presented in 1992. Her dissertation, “Systematics and Phylogenomics of Spider Flies (Diptera, Acroceridae),” focused on the evolution, conservation, biology, and taxonomy of spider flies, a group of spider natural enemies.
Awarded her doctorate in entomology in December 2018, Gilllung studied with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. She also studied with mentor Shaun Winterton, insect biosystematist, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and collaborated with ant specialist and taxonomist Phil Ward, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Gillung's dissertation, involving genomics, phylogenetics, systematics, and comparative analyses, “has increased our understanding of the biological patterns and processes that have shaped our planet's biodiversity,” Kimsey wrote in her letter of nomination. Her taxonomic work included identification keys and morphology-based diagnoses of species using modern techniques of cybertaxonomy—the application of the internet, digital technologies, and computer resources to increase and speed up the discovery and cataloging of new species, Kimsey wrote in her letter of nomination.
“Using cybertaxonomic tools, Jessica described 25 new spider fly species herself, and in collaboration with fellow entomologists, three fossil species from Baltic amber, described in her first dissertation chapter," Kimsey wrote. "Cybertaxonomy is a powerful tool that allows researchers and citizen scientists to collaborate in real time and across great distances to increase the speed and efficiency of biodiversity discovery.”
Kimsey noted that “Jessica unraveled the functional and ecological implications of key morphological traits, as well as their distribution across the Tree of Life," and "established new homologies for the wing venation of spider flies. She conducted detailed and assiduous dissections of male reproductive structures (i.e., genitalia) to understand homologies, demonstrating that morphological traits are dynamically evolving systems useful for both classification and inference of evolutionary history.”
While at UC Davis, Gillung drew more $120,000 in grants and awards for her multifaceted research on genomics, bioinformatics, phylogenetics, plant-pollinator interactions, and biodiversity discovery. She compiled a near straight-A academic record, published 11 refereed publications in top journals, and engaged in public service and outreach programs that reached more than 20,000 people at UC Davis-based events.
Gillung was a key member of the UC Davis Linnaean Games Team that won the ESA national championship in 2015. The Linnaean Games are lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competitions on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams.
The UC Davis-trained entomologist earlier received
- The 2019 Marsh Award for Early Career Entomologist, sponsored by the Royal Entomological Society. That involved a $1624 cash award and an invitation to the society meeting, Aug. 20-22 at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
- The 2019 Early Career Award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA). PBESA encompasses 11 western states, U.S. territories and parts of Canada and Mexico.
- The 2018 Student Leadership Award from PBESA
- The “Best Student Presentation Award” at the ninth annual International Congress of Dipterology, held in 2018 in Windhoek, Namibia.
At Cornell, Gillung is researching Apoidea (stinging wasps and bees) phylogenomics, evolution and diversification in the Brian Danforth lab.
“I was the seventh of eight children,” related Elvira Galvan Hack, who was born in Arizona but moved to Dixon at age 4. “My mother stayed home with us during the school year, but in the summer, starting when I was in the fifth grade, I and all my siblings and my mom would work in the fields.”
“My parents, Eluterio and Lilia Galvan, made sure that we children grew up happy and healthy and in a loving home filled with family traditions,” Elvira said. “We were—and still are—a close-knit family.”
In high school, Elvira dreamed of a people-oriented profession that would enable her to help others, to make a difference. But her plans stalled; she became a single parent and a high school dropout who cleaned houses for a living.
Then it happened. Two of her house-cleaning clients, a University of California, Davis professor and his wife, saw her potential, her love of people, and her passion for learning. They encouraged her to finish high school and attend business college. She did. They loaned her funds for an electric typewriter to polish her skills. She did. She won a $200 scholarship to the business school, gained comprehensive training, and launched her career, first at a Woodland department store and then at UC Davis, where she has served as an academic advisor for undergraduate students for the past 17 years.
'Paying It Forward'
Today, as the beneficiary of a good deed never forgotten, the Dixon resident is “paying it forward” and “making a difference” as the staff academic advisor for students majoring in animal biology, a program housed within the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
This year she's been singled out for not one--but two--awards for exemplary service:
- The Eleanor and Harry Walker Advising Awards Program, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES), selected her for the 2019 staff advisor award. Her mentor, forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, master advisor in the Animal Biology Program, won the faculty advising award.
- The UC Davis Staff Assembly selected her (and six other individuals and four teams) for a campuswide Citation for Excellence Award. Her award, an honorable mention in the highly competitive individual service category, comes with a certificate and a monetary prize. (See news story)
Lauded as “going above and beyond” to advocate for and mentor her students, Elvira remains passionate about helping them succeed professionally, socially and developmentally. Her colleagues and peers praise her drive and determination to help others; her comprehensive training and dedication; her caring attitude; and her strong family ties and trust.
“Elvira is likely the best academic advisor ever,” said Kimsey, an adjunct professor and lecturer in the Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “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.”
Her supervisor, chief administrative officer Nora Orozco, said that Elvira creates a welcoming environment in her office, meeting individually with her students to help them hurdle the many challenges they face.
Many animal biology majors seek careers as physicians, veterinarians, wildlife scientists or researchers. The students are diverse: they range from first-generation college students to undocumented immigrants, and they span all socioeconomic levels.
Elvira Galvan Hack was hired in October 2007 as the new undergraduate staff advisor for the animal biology major, then located in the Department of Nematology. "In 2007 we never had an undergraduate major--only graduate programs, and Professor Ed Lewis (now with the University of Idaho) was the master advisor."
"In 2007 when I was hired, I was given the opportunity to start our undergraduate advising office from scratch," she related. "I worked on putting procedures together for our new advising practices. I contacted each of our students and introduced myself, letting them know where their new advising office was located." She compiled an electronic mailing list or ListServe to distribute messages to the subscribers. She engaged in "one-on-one advising with each student to get to know them and to gather information on how we as a department, and I as their advisor, could serve them better."
Hack held an open house in both the winter and spring quarters, where she presented information about the academic requirements; explained academic planning changes; and provided information on what classes they needed to take—and when—to enable them to complete their degree more efficiently and effectively.
When the nematology department merged with the entomology department in 2012 to form the Department of Entomology and Nematology, adjunct professor Bob Kimsey became the master advisor of the animal biology program. “Elvira has been invaluable to me as the master advisor,” Kimsey reiterated.
The animal biology students describe her as kind, generous, trustworthy and helpful. They seek assistance on issues ranging from homesickness, roommate discord, financial strife and food insecurities, to sexual assault, domestic abuse and suicidal thoughts.
'You Can Do This'
If they're feeling overwhelmed, she soothes them with: “If you are doing the best you can, you're doing great.” If they're feeling depressed, she will encourage them with “Look at everything you've accomplished! You can do this!”
“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.”
Elvira's path from high school dropout to a professional career included 15 years with a Woodland department store, where she advanced from sales associate, customer service representative, key auditor, and office coordinator to finally, human resources manager.
On the recommendation of a colleague, Elvira joined the UC Davis workforce in 2001. She initially worked as a front desk receptionist and as an undergraduate staff advisor for the Department of History before accepting a position with the Department of Nematology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology) and Plant Pathology in 2007.
Her animal biology students know that her office is open. She is their dream catcher. She encourages them to meet their goals and guides them to realize their dreams. “I always makes time for my students,” she says. “I have an open door policy so I am accessible to students when they need it the most.”
One graduating student told her that her office was her “happy place”: “You always made me feel better. I felt like I could talk to you about anything. You took time to get to know me, my family, and we would laugh and talk about family. You understood.”
Elvira also understands food insecurities; she provides nutritious snacks for them in a corner of her office and provides a list of resources where they can get free or low-cost food.
Helping a Homeless Student
One memory stands out. “I had a student who revealed she was living in her friend's car in a grocery store parking lot because her new place to live wasn't ready yet I offered her help in finding a place to stay but she declined. I invited her to sleep on my couch and she declined. Said her new apartment would be ready soon. Two nights later at 12:15 a.m., I received a call from her, very upset, and saying she was going to be arrested. The security guard saw that she was living in a car in the grocery store parking lot and threatened to have her arrested. I told her to tell him I was on my way and not to do anything until I got there. He gave her an hour to be gone or he would call the police. I got there, calmed her down, and we moved the car. I told her to ‘grab what you will need because you're coming home with me.' She stayed and slept on my couch for four days until she could move to her apartment.”
In many respects, Elvira considers her students part of her own family, which includes three daughters, Jennifer Torres and Elaine Hack of Woodland, and Sierra Hack of Vacaville; and four grandchildren, Amaya, Alyssia and Aryanna Torres of Woodland and Aaden Matthew Brazelton of Vacaville.
The close-knit family includes Elvira's siblings, Joaquin Galvan of Dixon; twins Lydia Rodrigues of Tucson, Ariz., and Lilia Felix of Silverdale, Wash.; Bonifacio Galvan of Sonora (He started his now-thriving company, Galvan Fly Reels, http://galvanflyreels.com) in his garage; Virginia "Virgie" Freitas of Vallejo; Sandra Galvan of Elmira; and Amanda Galvan of Dixon. "We are all 18 to 24 months apart," Elvira said.
Her oldest daughter, Jennifer, works in the UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. An older brother, Joaquin, recently retired from UC Davis as a retention coordinator with the Student Academic Success Center.
Blazing Her Own Path
Elvira not only followed in Joaquin's footsteps, but is blazing her own path. As a certified academic advisor, she manages, with faculty, the Science and Society Program; manages the Career Discovery Group, part of Science and Society; and works closely with the dean's office as an advisor in the contemporary leadership minor.
Highly trained in customer service, mental health, diversity and inclusion, social justice and other issues, Hack keeps current with policies and procedures by participating in workshops, classes and other projects. She is active in scores of campus committees. She served on the campuswide Undergraduate Academic Advising Counsel, which supports academic advising at UC Davis and provides advising recommendations to the Office of Academic Advising, the Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education, Division of Student Affairs and the Council of Associate Deans.
In addition, Elvira serves as a member of the First-Year Work Group, collaborating with CA&ES advisors to design workshops to better serve first-year students.
“I love my job,” Elvira says. “I am blessed. I am living my dream of paying it forward and making a difference.”
And that they did, under the tutelage and watchful eyes of Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, director of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMPB) and CAMPB educational supervisor Bernardo Niño, a staff research assistant in the E. L. Niño lab at the University of California, Davis.
The 23 participants in the short course, "Planning Ahead for Your First Hives," gathered at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road to spend a Saturday learning all about bees via lectures and hands-on activities.
They learned about honey bee biology, the components of a hive and where to place the hive. Then they donned bee veils and stepped outside to the apiary to learn hive inspection basics. They returned to the classroom for lunch and a Powerpoint presentation on "Keeping Bees Year-Around."
Highlights included opening a hive and engaging in queen wrangling, hands-on activities (holding a frame and identifying the queen, worker bees and drones), and varroa mite monitoring. The participants also examined several different types of the hives in the apiary, including the traditional Langstroth hive, Kenya top bar hive or horizontal top bar-hive, Warré hive and a flow hive. The short course ended with a session on "Save us from the hive intruders!" and a question-and-answer period.
CAMPB also hosted a short course the next day on "Working Your Colonies." Participants learned what is necessary to maintain a healthy colony. Lectures covered advanced honey bee biology, honey bee integrated pest management, and products of the hive. Participants also learned about queen wrangling, honey extraction, splitting/combined colonies, and monitoring for varroa mites.
Both courses drew maximum enrollment. "The classes were excellent," commented Wendy Mather, program manager of CAMPB. "We received really great feedback and the participants were thrilled to get the in-hive experience. And we got to sample some melipona honey (from stingless bees) from the Yucatán, as one of our participants had recently returned from a trip there."
The participants "now have some science-based knowledge and skills about honey bees and beekeeping that they can confidently share," Mather said.
Honey bee scientist Elina Lastro Niño, the statewide Extension apiculturist and member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty since 2014, conducts bee classes throughout much of the year. She is known for her expertise on honey bee queen biology, chemical ecology, and genomics. She holds a doctorate in entomology from Pennsylvania State University (PSU), where she served as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Christina Grozinger, director of the PSU Center for Pollinator Research.
The California Master Beekeeping Program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. Check the website schedule for classes or contact Mather at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
How can you monitor, mitigate and manage them?
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and her lab are hosting a short course on "Managing Varroa" from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 13 at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis.
"Current beekeeping challenges call for all beekeepers to have a solid understanding of varroa mite biology and management approaches," said Niño, in describing the course. "We will dive deeper into understanding varroa biology and will devote majority of the time to discussing pros and cons of various means to monitor, mitigate, and manage this crucial honey bee pest."
The course, limited to 20 participants, will cover varroa biology, treatment options and chemical-free options. Participants are to bring their bee veil or suit. The $200 registration fee covers the cost of course materials, lunch and refreshments. The last day to register is Monday, Oct. 7. Click here to register.
The eight-legged varroa mite (Varroa destructor) is an external parasite that attacks and feeds on honey bees. Originating in Asia, it is now found throughout most of the world. It arrived in Japan and the Soviet Union in the early 1960s and South America in the 1970s. From the 1970s to 1980s, it spread to South America, Poland, France, Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal. The pest was first detected in the United States in 1987, in Canada in 1989, and in 1992 in the United Kingdom. It has since spread to Ireland, New Zealand and Hawaii, but to date, has not been found in Australia.
The female is reddish brown, while the male is white. They measure 1–1.8 mm long and 1.5–2 mm wide.
For more information on the course, contact Wendy Mather at email@example.com. Mather serves as the program manager of the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program, directed by Niño. The program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping.