Two UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty members are now full professors, and a third faculty member has achieved tenure as associate professor.
Molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu, vice chair of the department, and community ecologist Louie Yang were promoted from associate professors to professors, effective July 1. Community ecologist Rachel Vannette was promoted from assistant professor to associate professor.
Professor Chiu joined the Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2010 as an assistant professor and advanced to associate professor and vice chair in 2016. She received her bachelor's degree in biology and music from Mount Holyoke College, Mass., and her doctorate in molecular genetics in 2004 from New York University, New York. She served as a postdoctoral fellow from 2004 to 2010 in chronobiology (biological rhythms and internal clocks)--molecular genetics and biochemistry--at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Chiu's research expertise includes molecular genetics of biological timing and posttranslational regulation of proteins. She uses animal models including Drosophila melanogaster and mice to study the mechanisms that regulate circadian and seasonal physiology and behavior. Major grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation fund her biological rhythms research. In addition to her research in biological rhythms, Chiu also aims to leverage her expertise in genomics to address key issues in global food security.
In 2019, she was named one of 10 UC Davis Chancellor's Fellows, an honor awarded to associate professors who excel in research and teaching.
Chiu and Yang co-founded and co-direct (with Professor Jay Rosenheim) the campuswide Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology, launched in 2011 to provide undergraduates with a closely mentored research experience in biology. The program crosses numerous biological fields, including population biology; behavior and ecology; biodiversity and evolutionary ecology; agroecology; genetics and molecular biology; biochemistry and physiology; entomology; and cell biology. The goal is to provide academically strong and highly motivated undergraduates with a multi-year research experience that cultivates skills that will prepare them for a career in biological research.
Professor Yang, who holds a bachelor's degree (ecology and evolution) from Cornell University, 1999, received his doctorate from UC Davis in 2006, and joined the UC Davis faculty in 2009. In 2013, he received a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award of $600,000. He was named a UC Davis Hellman Fellow in 2012; the Hellman Family Foundation contributes funds to support and encourage the research of promising assistant professors who exhibit potential for great distinction in their research. He was promoted to associate professor in 2015.
Yang won the 2018 Outstanding Faculty Academic Advising Award from NACADA, also known as the Global Community for Academic Advising; and the 2017 Faculty Advisor Award of Excellence in NACADA's Pacific Region 9, comprised of California, Nevada and Hawaii.
Yang says of the research underway in his lab: “We study how species interactions change over time. We apply a diversity of approaches and perspectives to a diversity of systems and questions. We do experimental community ecology. We also use observational methods, meta-analysis, conceptual synthesis, ecosystem perspectives, and theoretical models. We like data, and we like learning new things.”
Associate Professor Vannette joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2015 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's biology department, where she was a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow from 2011 to 2015 and examined the role of nectar chemistry in community assembly of yeasts and plant-pollinator interactions.
Vannette received her bachelor of science degree, summa cum laude, in 2006 from Calvin College, Grand Rapids,Mich., and her doctorate from the University of Michigan's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Ann Arbor, in 2011. She received a Hellman Fellowship grant in 2018 and a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award in 2019 to study microbial communities in flowers and a National Science Foundation grant to support work on solitary bee microbiomes.
Of her research, Vannette says: “ All plants are colonized by microorganisms that influence plant traits and interactions with other species, including insects that consume or pollinate plants. I am interested in the basic and applied aspects of microbial contributions to the interaction between plants and insects. I also use these systems to answer basic ecological questions, such as what mechanisms influence plant biodiversity and trait evolution.”
“The Vannette lab is a team of entomologists, microbiologists, chemical ecologists, and community ecologists trying to understand how microbial communities affect plants and insects (sometimes other organisms, too),” she says. “We often study microbial communities in flowers, on insects or in soil. We rely on natural history observations, and use techniques from chemical ecology, microbial ecology and community ecology. In some cases, we study applied problems with an immediate application including pathogen control or how to support pollinators. Other questions may not have an immediate application but are nonetheless grounded in theory and will contribute to basic knowledge and conservation (e.g. how can dispersal differences among organisms affect patterns of abundance or biodiversity?)”
"Unlike common drosophilids that develop in rotten or decaying fruit, Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura) prefer to oviposit in ripe or ripening fruit," Hamby says in her abstract. "Native to Southeast Asia, D. suzukii has become an important pest of berries and small fruits throughout North America and Europe since its initial detection in Santa Cruz County, Calif. in 2008. The majority of U.S. organic berry farm acreage is concentrated on the west coast, and organic berries are a growing industry that now exceeds 1500 total farms. Current D. suzukii management strategies for both organic and conventional growers rely heavily on insecticide usage because other pest management tactics are still being developed and optimized. Management guidelines established shortly after the emergence of D. suzukii as a serious pest included monitoring recommendations, but these were made with little information on trap design and potential lures for use in raspberries."
Hamby will address her dissertation work on monitoring, yeast associations, chronobiology, chronotoxicity of insecticides and the implications of this work to managing D. suzukii in California commercial berry and small fruit crops. She will be introduced by Zalom, her major professor and president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA).
Hamby received her master's degree and bachelor's degree from UC Davis, compiling a near perfect grade point average.
A graduate student researcher since 2009, Hamby serves as a winter quarter co-instructor of the "Arthropod Pest Management" class. She earlier was a lab assistant in the Aquatic Toxicology Lab, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and the Fish Conservation and Culture Lab, UC Davis Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.
Hamby has presented her work at meetings of the ESA, Pacific Branch of the ESA (PBESA) and overseas. The recipient of numerous awards, she was selected for a 2011-14 $130,000 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship; the 2005-2009 UC Regents' Scholarship, a merit-based academic scholarship; the 2011 Lillian and Alex Feir Graduate Student Travel Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, or Molecular Biology, Pacific Branch of ESA (PBESA); and the 2009 UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Mary Regan Meyer Prize, Academic and Service Award for a Graduating Senior.
Hamby also received the 2012 $1000 UC Davis Graduate Student Travel Award to travel to XXIV International Congress of Entomology, Daegu, Republic of Korea to present her research. Her other honors include a 2011-14 $130,000 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and travel grant awards to attend entomological meetings.
Hamby mentored a number of undergraduates, including Helen T. Nguyen (2013), Mitchell J. Bamford (2013), Daren W. Harris (2012-2013), Daniel C. Fok (2011-2013), Doris Yu (2011-2012), Stacy A. Hamby (2011), Yelizaveta Luchkovska (2011), Heather E. Wilson (2010-2012), Samuel J. Fahrner (2010-2011).
Her publications include:
Scheidler, N., Siddappaji, M., Hamby, K.A., Chiu, J.C., Zalom, F.G., and Syed, Z. In prep.What makes one Drosophila species a pest: Molecular and neural correlates for host odor recoginition? PLoS Biology
Harris, D.W., Wilson, H.E., Zalom, F.G., and Hamby, K.A.* Submitted. Seasonal trapping of Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in a multi-crop setting. Journal of Applied Entomology
Hamby, K.A., Bolda, M.P., Sheehan, M.E., and Zalom, F.G. Accepted with Revision. Seasonal occurrence, lure comparison, and trapping bias of Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in California commercial raspberries. Environmental Entomology
Lee, J.C., Shearer, P.W. Barrantes, L.D., Beers, E.H., Burrack, H.J., Dalton, D.T., Dreves, A.J., Gut, L.J., Hamby, K.A., Haviland, D.R., Isaacs, R., Nielsen, A.L., Richardson, T., Rodriguez-Saona, C.R., Stanley, C.A., Walsh, D.B., Walton, V.M., Yee, W.L., Zalom, F.G., and Bruck, D.J. 2013. Trap designs for monitoring Drosophila suzukii (Diptera:Drosophilidae). Environmental Entomology 42(6): 000-000 DOI: 10.1603/EN13148
Chiu, J.C., Jiang, X., Zhao, L., Hamm, C.A., Cridland, J.M., Saelao, P., Hamby, K.A., Lee, E.K., Kwok, R.S., Zhang, G., Zalom, F.G., Walton, V.M., and Begun, D.J. 2013. Genome of Drosophila suzukii, the spotted wing drosophila. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics DOI: 10.1534/g3.113.008185
Yu, D., Zalom, F.G. and Hamby, K.A. 2013. Host status and fruit odor response of Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) to figs and mulberries. Journal of Economic Entomology 106(4): 1932-1937.
Hamby, K.A., Kwok, R.S., Zalom, F.G., and Chiu, J.C. 2013. Integrating circadian activity and gene expression profiles to predict chronotoxicity of Drosophila suzukii response to insecticides. PLoS ONE 8(7): e68472. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068472.
Hamby, K.A., and Zalom, F.G. 2013. Relationship of almond kernel damage occurrence to navel orangeworm (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) success. Journal of Economic Entomology 106(3):1365-1372.
Hamby, K.A., Alifano, J.A., and Zalom, F.G. 2013.Total effects of contact and residual exposure of bifenthrin and λ-cyhalothrin on the predatory mite Galendromus occidentalis (Acari: Phytoseiidae). Experimental and Applied Acarology 61: 183-193. DOI: 10.1007/s10493-013-9680-z
Wilson, H.E., Hamby, K.A.,* and Zalom, F.G. 2013. Host susceptibility of ‘French Prune' Prunus domestica to Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae). Acta Horticulturae (ISHS) 985:249-254.
Lee, J.C., Burrack, H.J., Barrantes, L.D., Beers, E.H., Dreves, A.J., Hamby, K.A., Haviland, D.R., Isaacs, R., Richardson, T.A., Shearer, P.W., Stanley, C.A., Walsh, D.B., Walton, V.M., Zalom, F.G., and Bruck, D.J. 2012. Evaluation of monitoring traps for Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in North America. Journal of Economic Entomology 105(4): 1350-1357.
Hamby, K.A., Hernández, A., Boundy-Mills, K., and Zalom, F.G. 2012.Yeast associations of spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii, Diptera: Drosophilidae) in cherries and raspberries. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 78(14): 4869-4873. Journal cover article.
Hamby, K., Gao, L.W., Lampinen, B., Gradziel, T., Zalom, F. 2011. Hullsplit date and shell seal relationship to navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella, Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) infestation on almonds. Journal of Economic Entomology 104(3): 965-969.
For the list of the remaining noonhour seminars, see this page.
The work is expected to accelerate basic and applied research, leading to better monitoring and control strategies for the pest.
Officially published Dec. 1 in the journal G3 (Genes Genomics and Genetics), the open-access research has been available online for several weeks and drawing global attention.
“To enable basic and applied research of this important pest, Drosophila suzukii, we sequenced the genome to obtain a high-quality reference sequence,” said molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Chiu and Professor David Begun of the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology led the genomics team of collaborative researchers from four institutions.
The posting of the genome and comparative sequence analysis on the publicly accessible SpottedWingFlyBase web portal could lead to more species-specific weapons to combat the destructive pest, Chiu said. Scientists are looking at its biology, behavior, food and odor preferences, and pesticide resistance.
“Many researchers are working hard to study the biology of this insect through basic and applied projects, and we hope our efforts in presenting our genomic data in a user-friendly web portal will democratize the sequence data and help facilitate everyone’s research, especially those who do not have expertise in genome and sequence analysis,” she said.
The spotted wing drosophila, a native of Asia that was first detected in the United States in 2008, is wreaking economic havoc on crops such as blueberries, cherries, blackberries and raspberries. This fly lays its eggs inside the ripe or ripening fruit, and the developing larvae feed on the soft fruit, crippling crop yields.
Chiu teamed with scientists at UC Davis, Oregon State University (OSU), the China National Gene Bank and the American Museum of Natural History as part of a $5.8 million project on the biology and management of spotted wing drosophila, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant to OSU entomologist Vaughn Walton and a team of investigators including Professor Frank Zalom of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who is the lead UC Davis investigator.
Zalom, recently inducted as president of the nearly 7000-member Entomological Society of America, said that the G3 article “presents a high quality reference sequence of Drosophila suzukii, examination of the basic properties of its genome and transcriptome, and description of patterns of genome evolution in relation to its close relatives.”
As of Nov. 27, SpottedWingFlyBase has drawn more than 3000 page views from 20 countries, including the U.S., France, Italy, Belgium, China, Spain, Japan, Germany, and Great Britain, Zalom said. “Given this impressive response and the worldwide importance of Drosophila suzukii, I expect that the G3 article will become very highly cited and cast Dr. Chiu as a central figure in future Drosophila suzukii genomic studies related to topics such as insecticide detoxification, odorant reception and regulatory entomology.”
OSU entomologist Vaughn Walton, lead investigator of the USDA grant, said: “Scientists from all over the world are interested in knowledge locked inside the fly’s genetic material.” He also pointed out that the genome work may relieve the fears of countries wishing to export American fruit, but not the pest. By finding the fly’s unique genetic signature, scientists hope that DNA testing will quickly determine if ready-to-be-shipped fruit contains spotted wing drosophila larvae.
The UC Davis team included the Joanna Chiu lab and the Frank Zalom lab, both in Department of Entomology and Nematology, and David Begun’s Drosophila evolutionary genetics lab in the Department of Evolution and Ecology. They collaborated with Walton and spotted wing drosophila project leader Linda Brewer of OSU; Ernest Lee from the American Museum of Natural History, and Xuanting Jiang and Guojie Zhang of the China National Genebank, BGI-Shenzhen.
Other UC Davis scientists involved in the research included doctoral candidates Kelly Hamby of the Zalom lab, Rosanna Kwok of the Chiu lab, as well as postdoctoral researchers Li Zhao, Christopher Hamm, Julie M. Cridland and research technician Perot Saelao of the Begun lab.
The SpottedWingFlyBase is a dedicated online resource for Drosophila suzukii genomics but also includes comparative genomic analysis of Drosophila suzukii with other closely related Drosophila species.
The article is available at the G3 website at: http://www.g3journal.org/content/early/2013/10/14/g3.113.008185.abstract.
More information is provided by Oregon State University at the SpottedWingFlyBase portal at http://spottedwingflybase.oregonstate.edu/ or the Spotted Wing Drosophila website at http://spottedwing.org/
-- Joanna Chiu, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, (530) 752-1839
-- Frank Zalom, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, (530) 752-3687, firstname.lastname@example.org