“I have had a lifelong love and respect for bees and I spent a lot of my childhood watching them, attracting them with sugar water, catching and playing with them and even dissecting them during a time when I imagined myself to be a junior scientist,” Jamison said. “Back in those days, there was an abundance of bees, usually observed by this kid in her family’s backyard full of clover blossoms—something you rarely see any more due to spraying of pre-emergents and other weed killers.”
So when Jamison became state regent of the California State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), she adopted the motto, “Bees are at the heart of our existence” and vowed to support research to help the beleaguered bees. Her project resulted in DAR members raising $30,000 for bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
“Every state regent has a fund-raising project; I chose honey bees,” said Jamison, whose first name, Debra, means “bee” in Hebrew. Fresno, in the heart of San Joaquin Valley, is “The Food Basket to the World,” Jamison said, and “a place where we grow a large variety of crops that require bees for pollination.”
“When the California State Society Board of Directors approved this project, we knew that it was an important one,” she told the crowd at a recent ceremony at UC Davis. “However, we did not know just how vital this project would be until we began talking to staff at UC Davis. We hope that our contribution helps provide needed funding for the extremely important research going on at this well-known and well-respected facility.”
Jamison and her state regent project chair, Karen Montgomery of Modesto, presented the $30,000 check to Edwin Lewis, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and bee scientist/assisant professor Brian Johnson at a ceremony in the department's Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road. More than 125 DAR members from throughout California attended.
Lewis gratefully accepted the check on behalf of the department and noted that his mother, Betty Lewis, is an active member of the DAR Owasco Chapter in Auburn, N.Y. “My mother would definitely approve of this project,” he quipped. Lewis gifted Jamison with a mosaic ceramic figure of a bee, crafted by Davis artist Donna Billick, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
The funds will be used in the Johnson lab. His graduate student, Gerard Smith, researches the effect of pesticide exposure in the field on honey bee foraging behavior, and graduate student Cameron Jasper studies the genetic basis of division of labor in honey bees.
Johnson and fellow UC Davis bee scientists Neal Williams and Robbin Thorp discusssed their work and the importance of bees as pollinators. Williams, an assistant professor, researches wild or non-managed bees. Thorp, a native pollinator specialist and emeritus professor of entomology, does research on bumble bees and other bees. Like Lewis, Thorp is closely linked with DAR: his mother, the late Elizabeth Thorp was active in the Algonquin Chapter, Benton Harbor, Mich.
The “Year of the Bee” began when Jamison and her fellow DAR members studied what she called “the amazing history of beekeeping that goes back more than 2000 years.” In doing so," we gained a new perspective on the necessary work these small insects perform” for humankind.
Jamison thanked Fresno beekeeper Brian Liggett and Cooperative Extension specialist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology for helping educate them about the bees. Among the others she acknowledged were Christi Heintz, director of Project Apis m., “who provided information on the plight of bees and helped us get in contact with UC Davis.”
The DAR congregation attending the ceremony included Honorary President General Dorla Kemper of Granite Bay, who held DAR’s highest national office; and Honorary State Regent Leonora Branca of Pebble Beach, who held DAR's highest California office. Jamison's governing board attending were vice regent Carol Jackson, Malibu; recording secretary Midge Enke, Tracy; corresponding secretary Sally Holcombe, Walnut Creek; treasurer Gayle Mooney, Elk Grove; parliamentarian Mary Brown, Westlake Village; librarian Donna Riegel, Pasadena; and chaplain Sandra Orozco, Tehachapi.
The DAR members toured the Laidlaw research facility and the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, which is designed to provide a year-around food source for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators; to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees; and to encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own. A six-foot-long ceramic mosaic sculpture of a worker bee, crafted by Billick, anchors the garden.
The Almond Board of California provided packages of almonds for the crowd.
Not missed was the DAR/bee connection: a gift from the nation’s oldest genealogical society to support one of the world’s oldest--and the most beneficial--insect, the honey bee. European colonists brought the honey bee to the Jamestown Colony, Virginia, in 1622, some 153 years before the American Revolution. Native Americans called it “the white man’s fly.” Honey bees did not arrive in California until 1853, transported via the Isthmus of Panama.
The U. S. honey bee population has declined by about a third since 2006 due to the mysterious malady known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), said Mussen, attributing CCD to multiple factors including disease, pests, parasites, pesticides, malnutrition and stress.
Founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., DAR is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America's future through better education for children, Jamison said. Its worldwide membership totals some 170,000 descendants of American Revolutionary War patriots in 3000 chapters. More than 890,000 women have joined DAR since its founding 123 years ago. The California State Society, founded in 1891 and based in Glendora, is comprised of nearly 9,900 members.
Staff research associate Kimiora Ward of the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, received a citation for excellence at the UC Davis Staff Assembly's annual ceremony, held May 15 at the Gunrock Pub.
Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and Staff Assembly Chair Rob Kerner congratulated Ward on her outstanding achievement.
Ward was nominated for the coveted honor by Neal Williams, assistant professor; Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist; and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, with input from her colleagues, Marek Borowiec of the Phil Ward lab, and Katharina Ullmann from the Williams lab.
Staff research associate Kimiora Ward of the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology, has been selected a recipient of an Outstanding Citation for Excellence, sponsored by the UC Davis Staff Assembly.
Ward, a recognized leader in the development of native plants for pollinators and methods for their restoration, will be one of 15 staff members honored Thursday, May 23 at a ceremony at the Gunrock campus pub and restaurant. Chancellor Linda Katehi traditionally pays tribute to the outstanding staff.
Ward was nominated in the service category by assistant professor/pollination ecologist Neal Williams and co-nominated by Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen and communications specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey, with input from lab members, graduate students and colleagues.
Ward received her master’s degree from the University of Washington in 2000. Her background is in natural resource management and native plant conservation, with a focus on native plant materials development to improve habitat restoration.
She formerly managed the Seed Increase Program at the Institute for Applied Ecology in Oregon where the program goal was to produce ecologically appropriate and genetically diverse native forb seed to better support insect and bird diversity in prairie restorations.
Ward currently manages several projects researching the use of native forbs to support wild pollinator populations in agricultural landscapes of central California. In addition to identifying native plant species that are amenable to cultivation while attracting diverse and abundant pollinators, this research asks whether establishment of these plants in the farm landscape can increase pollination service to adjacent crops.
The nominators described her as “an extremely dedicated employee, outstanding leader, excellent scientist, top-notch communicator/listener, and a genuinely warm and caring person who does UC Davis proud. A staff researcher in charge of a large research program, she excels at all levels of research from assisting with grant writing, designing protocols and coordinating field crews to assisting with analysis and writing.”
Williams referred to her as “my right hand and left hand.”
The work she does is “well beyond what would be expected of an SRA position,” Williams said. “She is currently co-authoring three articles on native plant restoration. Her efforts extend to editing and writing, which are truly praiseworthy. She engages in the intellectual development of the lab group. She participates in our lab group meetings and join insect ecology meetings and gives programs to other lab groups on campus. I know of no other SRA who does what she does.”
“Rather than simply working diligently during her day, she puts in countless hours to make sure the program operates at the highest level,” the nominators wrote. “She goes out of her way to help build partnerships around the state with landowners, agency members, nature resource professionals, conservationists and native seed producers and this has resulted in a high respected UC Davis program. Indeed, she acts as a bridge between our search institution and the general public—this includes engaging stakeholders as far south as San Diego.”
Undergraduates, recent graduates, graduate students and colleagues praised her mentoring skills and her ability to provide professional and personal support. Offered one graduate student: “She truly does foster a positive and encouraging work environment. I know that if I have a question about my own research, about mentoring my own students or navigating graduate school, she will take time to listen to me and advises me—always keeping my best interests in mind.”
Added another colleague: “I know from many conversation how much she cares about the people she’s supervising. She cares deeply about their professional and personal growth.”
Staff Assembly singled out three individuals as the overall winners, and one as the outstanding team. Three individuals, including Ward, were named outstanding citation recipients and one team was selected for an outstanding citation.
Rahim Reed, Associate Executive Vice Chancellor, Office of Community Relations – Supervision
Emily Whitmer, Wildlife Health Center– Campus Service
Ernie Hoftyzer, Institute of Transportation Studies – Research Contributions
Interdisciplinary Research Support Team, Office of Research – Campus Community Contributions: Sheryl Soucy-Lubell, Alyssa Bunn, Erin Houston, Kassie Obelleiro and Regan Scott
Min Hoang, Chemistry – Teaching
Kimiora Ward, Department of Entomology – Service
Jeremy Phillips, Division of Social Sciences and Humanities, Information Technology – Supervision
Beth Floyd, College of Letters and Science – Supervision
Outstanding Citations Team:
One Health Institute Diagnostic and Technology Development Laboratory Team, Wildlife Health Center, comprised of Brett Smith, Daniel Rejmanek and Jasmine Pante
In addition, scores of scholarships were awarded:
Staff Dependent Scholarship Awarded to:
Ariel Aaron Amon
Major: Human Development
School: UC Davis
Scholarship: Staff Assembly
Major: Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity
School: UC Davis
Scholarship: Staff Assembly
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
School: UC Davis
Scholarship: Staff Assembly
Major: Public Health
School: Touro University California
Title: Animal Technician, Sr.
Scholarship: Staff Assembly
Wendy Anne Stoltz
School: Mills College
Title: Development Analyst
Department: Graduate School of Management
Scholarship: Former Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef
Kelly Marie Cole
Major: Educational Leadership- Capitol Area North Doctorate in Candel
School: UC Davis
Title: Academic Advising Coordinator
Department: Student Housing
Scholarship: Latino Staff and Faculty Association and Vanderhoof
Major: Masters in Marriage Family Counseling
School: University of Phoenix- Sacramento Campus
Title: Library Asst. II
Department: Shields Library CMS
Major: Educational Leadership and Management Doctoral Program
School: Drexel University
Title: Academic Coordinator
Department: Student Housing
Scholarship: UC Davis Retiree
School: Southern New Hampshire University
Title: Assistant II
Department: BFTV Admin Cluster
Scholarship: Staff Assembly
Major: Higher Education Leadership
School: California State University, Sacramento
Title: Student Affairs Officer
Department: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Scholarship: Staff Assembly
School: California State University, Chico
Title: AHT III
Department: Vmth SAICU
Scholarship: Staff Assembly
La Shon M. Tate
Major: Master’s of Science Counseling, MFT
School: University of Phoenix, Sacramento Campus
Title: Administrative Specialist
Scholarship: Staff Assembly
Major: Environmental Science
School: University of Phoenix
Title: Medical Assistant
Department: Family Practice
Julie Delia Agosto
Major: Ed.D in Organizational Leadership
School: Pepperdine University
Title: Program Consultant/ SSAOII
Department: Student Recrutment and Retention Center/ Student Affairs
Scholarship: Staff Assembly
DAVIS--“The Bee Team” at the University of California, Davis, has won a major award.
Five faculty members from the Department of Entomology received the coveted team award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA), for their collaborative work specializing in honey bees, wild bees and pollination issues through research, education and outreach. Their service to UC Davis spans 116 years.
The “Bee Team” is comprised of Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen; systematist/hymenopterist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology who coordinated the development and installation of a landmark bee friendly garden; and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology; pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology who specializes in pollination and bee biology; and biologist/apiculturist Brian Johnson, assistant professor of entomology who specializes in bee communication, bee behavior and bee health.
PBESA represents 11 states, seven U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
Thorp, who retired from the university in 1994, continues to work full-time on behalf of the bees, and has tallied 49 years of service to UC Davis. Mussen, who will retire in June of 2014, has provided 37 years of service; Kimsey, 24; Williams, 4 and Johnson, 2.
“The collaborative team exceptionally serves the university, the state, the nation, and indeed the world, in research, education and public service,” wrote nominator Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. “The Bee Team is really the ‘A’ team; no other university in the country has this one-of-a-kind expertise about managed bees, wild bees, pollination, bee health, bee identification, and bee preservation. Honey bee health is especially crucial. Since 2006 when the colony collapse disorder surfaced, we as a nation have been losing one-third of our bees annually. Some beekeepers are reporting 50 to 100 percent winter losses. The importance of bees cannot be underestimated: one-third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees.”
Among those lending support to The Bee Team through letters were Mary Delany, interim chair of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; AnnMaria de Grassi, director of federal policy, California Farm Bureau Federation; Christi Heintz, executive director of Project Apis m. and the Almond Board of California Task Force Liaison; and Mace Vaughn, pollinator conservation program director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
About each team member:
Mussen, considered by his peers as one of the most respected and influential professional apiculturists in the nation, was named the California Beekeeper of the Year in 2006, won the American Association of Professional Apiculturists’ Award of Excellence in Extension Apiculture in 2007, and in 2008 he received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America. He received the statewide Pedro Ilic Outstanding Agricultural Educator Award in 2010.
Mussen is a five-time president of the Western Apicultural Society, an organization he helped found in 1977. He's delivered the keynote addresses at the California State Beekeepers’ Association (CSBA) and at the American Honey Producers’ Association conventions. In addition, he provides leadership roles in the CSBA, the California Bee Breeders’ Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, American Honey Producers’ Association, National Honey Board, American Beekeeping Federation, American Association of Professional Apiculturists, and the Northern California Entomology Society, among others.
Mussen periodically speaks to some 20 beekeeping organizations a year, taking time from his busy schedule (often on the weekends and evenings) to travel to all parts of California and beyond. Mussen also coordinates the honey-tasting event at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day, where he encourages patrons to sample honey and ask questions.
“He is just as open to answering a question about Nosema to a beginning beekeeper or responding to a child’s question about queen bees as he is to helping a commercial beekeeper with 15,000 hives, or engaging in intricate scientific research,” colleague and entomology Extension specialist Larry Godfrey said.
Mussen, who is the UC Davis representative to the California State Apiary Board, offers input to the Department of Pesticide Regulation, particularly with the pesticide registration group. Lately he assisted U.S. beekeepers in writing letters to receive compensation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their CCD (colony collapse disorder) bee losses.
Mussen works closely with Cooperation Extension, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the California Farm Bureau Federation, researchers in the UC system, researchers at the USDA/ARS honey bee laboratories at Beltsville, Md; Baton Rouge, La.; Tucson, Ariz., Weslaco, Texas, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
Mussen serves on various committees and task forces of state and national organizations, reviews numerous manuscripts for journals; reviews annual research proposals to the California State Beekeepers’ Association, the Almond Board of California, and the National Honey Board; reviews Small Business Innovation Research applications at the federal level; and is requested to comment on promotion evaluations for university and USDA researchers.
Said Gene Brandi, legislative chairman of the California State Beekeepers’ Association: “Dr. Mussen’s service as a member of the California State Beekeepers’ Association is legendary. Any time the industry has needed Eric’s expertise at a meeting, at an industry or government hearing, to compile industry data, to write an article for a variety of publications, or for any reason whatsoever, he has always been ready, willing and more than able to accomplish the task.”
Recently, Mussen and “Bee Team” member Brian Johnson conducted experiments to determine the effects of feeding bees on a blend of sucrose syrup and high fructose corn syrup. They studied the effects of feeding colonies high doses of antibiotics, simultaneously. They are sampling bees from apparently healthy and declining colonies to see if viruses may be to blame for the dwindling bee population. And they hope to look at the use of various essential oils to reduce virus loads in honey bee colony populations.
As the former interim chair of the Department of Entomology, Kimsey spearheaded the rebuilding of the bee biology program and keyed the establishment, installation and development of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road. A groundbreaking ceremony took place in 2009 and a grand celebration opening on Sept. 11, 2010. The garden also serves as a demonstration garden and a research garden. The key goals of the garden are to provide bees with a year-around food source, to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees and to encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own.
Kimsey also fulfilled a major role in the rebuilding of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Biology lab. Those involved, as well as the beekeeping industry, praised her leadership, insight and determination. In this process, she reached out to industry leaders and gained their support.
In the development and establishment of the haven, Kimsey “motivated students, volunteers and donors to bring the garden to fruition, creating a demonstration to create an awareness of the diversity of pollinators and their role in the ecology of plants to benefit agriculture, urban landscapes and the enjoyment of the general public for generations to come,” said bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey.
Said Dora Sera Bailey, former director of consumer communications for Häagen-Dazs who worked with Kimsey: “The Häagen-Dazs brand is very proud and grateful for its long and strong relationship with UC Davis. It is a relationship that has come to full flower in the last several years, largely due to the vision, spirit of cooperation and commitment of Lynn Kimsey.”
- Under what contexts can native pollinators provide sufficient pollination for different crop? The answer to this question helps alleviate the stress placed on honey bees and also informs ways to more sustainably manage agricultural systems to promote biodiversity and production.
- How can we enhance habitat and diversify agricultural systems to promote managed and wild bees?
- Do pollinators interact in ways to increase the overall effectiveness of crop pollination?
This work has been carried out in agro-ecosystems in California’s Central Valley and in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A continuing goal is to provide practical information that can be used to improve the long-term stability of pollination for agriculture in California, as well as promote pollinator conservation and management. Williams’ work in the East and West has helped form the base for NCRS planting guidelines to enhance pollinators in agriculture. Williams is also studying how habitat restoration affects pollinator communities and pollination. He has ongoing research with Sacramento River Project (Nature Conservancy/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) to determine whether native pollinator species and the service they provide are restored along with the vegetation that is the target of restoration.
Williams was part of an international research team that found that honey bees are more effective at pollinating almonds when other species of bees are present. The groundbreaking research was published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The research, which took place in California’s almond orchards in Yolo, Colusa and Stanislaus counties, is especially important because it increases the pollination effectiveness of honey bees as demand for their pollination service grows. When blue orchard bees and wild bees are foraging in almonds with honey bees, the behavior of honey bees changes, resulting in more effective crop pollination, they found.
“My research program spans a tremendous diversity of fundamental and applied areas in pollination and bee biology,” Williams says. “It is linked by a common goal to understand mechanisms from individual to landscape scales that affect pollinator communities, populations and pollination function. One major research area in our lab is working to identify native plant materials to support managed and wild bee species in order to bolster their health, their populations and achieve greater stability of pollination in agricultural landscapes.”
“Although other colleagues in our region investigate the importance of habitat for bees, we are unique in developing methods to identify best plants for bees and then applying these methods to select the plants. Our approach involves extensive field data, original computational modeling, and controlled experimental testing. An exciting extension of this work is testing the performance of the resulting native plant mixes in real landscape. To this end we are working with over 20 different growers and landowners around the state of California and a variety of different crop types from orchard to row crop. We have helped to determine best practice for planting bee habitat, protocols for monitoring pollinator use and developed widely methods for assessing pollinator’s contribution to pollination service. We recognize the value of simultaneously supporting managed bees, such as Apis mellifera and Osmia lignaria, as well as promoting populations of diverse wild bee species. Thus, our efforts target different suites of pollinators. It is through the integration of different species in different contexts that we can achieve greater sustainable pollination. In another project we are directly quantifying the importance of diverse pollinators to promote pollination. We have shown that the presence of wild species increases the pollination effectiveness of honey bees on almond. The result offers great promise for augmenting pollination of this challenging crop.”
“Training of students at all levels is key components of my program,” says Williams, who has 26 students working in his lab. “I integrate multiple undergraduates into my own projects and in addition host those working with graduate students in the lab. I am also actively engaged in outreach/extension education with growers, beekeepers, conservation organizations, county and state agencies and the public to promote biodiversity conservation and work to enhance pollination in natural and agricultural systems. We have led training sessions about native pollinators for NRCS and others in multiple seasons, hosted the most recent meeting of the Orchard Bee Association, contributed to farmer field days, provided master gardener sessions on native pollinators and developed outreach materials. Our latest project is developing a list of region specific native plants to support honey bees and wild pollinators, this effort involves collaboration with others on the Bee Team and beyond. “
Williams is an important part of the USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) meetings. He is co-project director of Aspire Project: Augmenting Specialty Crop Pollination Through Integrated Research and Education for Bees, a coordinated agricultural project funded by SCRI. Williams serves as the project leader for habitat enhancement for bees and as a co-leader of a project seeking alternative managed bees for almonds.
Last year he was one of the featured speakers at the International Symposium on Pollinator Conservation in Fukuoka, Japan. His talk on “Bee Life History and Resource Distributions Determine Population and Community Responses to Agricultural Landscape Change” explored agricultural landscape change and the role of bee life history in predicting and understanding responses of bee communities.
Thorp is skilled in insect classification, general entomology, natural history of insects, field entomology, California insect diversity and pollination ecology. He is a member of 10 professional societies including the International Society of Hymenopterists. He is the regional co-chair of the North America section of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Bumblebee Specialist Group. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization.
Thorp is deeply engrossed in identifying bees for research projects, including that of UC Berkeley conservation biologist Claire Kremen, a McArthur Fellow studying wild bees. Overall, he has identified more than 170,000 bees since his retirement in 1994, usually averaging at least 10,000 a year. He is also heavily involved with research, education and public outreach activities at the Bohart Museum, with Department of Entomology and other entities.
Thorp does research at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. He has monitored the bee population since it was an open field. Over the last three years, Robbin has identified more than 80 species of bees—and counting--in the garden alone; these include bumble bees, carpenter bees and sweat bees.
An authority on Western bumble bees, Thorp delivered a talk on “Western North America Bumble Bees in Peril” to the Smithsonian in June 2009. His bumble bee research and his drive to save bees from extinction are two of his projects known nationally and internationally. He is the world authority on Franklin’s bumble bee, a bee feared extinct and known to habitat a small area in southern Oregon and northern California. He teamed with the Xerces Society to successfully fight a battle to include the bee on the threatened and endangered species list. He is now working to “save the bees” found in the Midwest and East Coast.
Thorp was honored for his work when he received the 2010-2011 Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorship, a high honor for UC Davis retired faculty. He delivers many talks, both scientific and for the lay audience, on wild bees and pollinator habitat. In addition to threatened or endangered bumble bees, his expertise includes vernal pool bees.
Johnson works closely with the California State Beekeepers Association (statewide, California has 500,000 colonies) and just received a CSBA grant to study “Testing Feeding Methods for Maximizing the Growth and Health of Honey Bee Colonies.” He is involved in graduate teaching/advising and undergraduate lab teaching. He is teaching a UC Davis graduate seminar on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and just completed teaching a course on honey bee communication for a freshman seminar. Johnson presented a talk on honey bee communication at the inaugural event of the UC Davis Honey and Pollinator Center; a lecture on “The Study of Social Insects” to the UC Davis Animal Behavior Core Graduate Group; a seminar at Howard University, Washington D.C. on the “Organization and Evolution of Honey Bee Societies”; and a talk on “Task Allocation in Middle-Age Honey Bees.” He also addressed the California Department of Food and Agriculture on “Roles of Self-Organization in Collective Decision Making” and discussed “Future Research Directions at UC Davis” at a CSBA meeting.
“Neal has a dynamic research program on the ecological impacts of native bees and he brings a new perspective to the campus,” said Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. “We are very lucky to have him here as part of our reinvigorated bee biology program.”
Williams, an assistant professor at UC Davis, and a former assistant professor with the Department of Biology, Bryn Mawr College, researches pollination ecology, spanning the disciplines of conservation biology, behavioral ecology and evolution. Especially interested in sustainable pollination strategies for agriculture, Williams explores the role of native bees as crop pollinators and the effects of landscape composition and local habitat quality on their persistence.
Williams has researched agro-ecosystems in California's Central Valley and in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Among his research colleagues: native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis; and conservation biologist Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley, a UC Davis Department of Entomology affiliate and a 2007 MacArthur Foundation Fellow.
“One of my continuing goals,” Williams said, “is to provide practical information that can be used for pollinator conservation and management strategies.”
In addition, he is studying how habitat restoration affects insect pollinator communities and pollination function. He has worked with the Nature Conservancy's Sacramento River Project “to determine whether these non-target species and the function they provide are restored along with targeted structural vegetation.”
Williams' pollinator conservation research in the East helped form the basis for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services' planting guidelines to enhance pollinators.
Apart from his work on pollinator conservation, he explores how specialist and generalist floral visitors differ in their contributions to pollination of their host plants. This project involves field sites in the deserts of the northernwestern Mexico and in the woodlands of northeastern United States.
A native of Madison, Wisc., Williams studied botany, history and philosophy of science in 1990-91 at Edinburgh University, Scotland, before receiving his bachelor of science degrees in botany and zoology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1992. He earned his doctorate in ecology and evolution in 1999 from the State University of New York, Stony Brook (SUNY-Stony Brook), and then served as the I. W. Killam Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada for a year.
Before joining the Bryn Mawr College faculty, Williams served as a postdoctoral researcher in 2001-2003 in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton, where he was a D.H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow.
Williams won the 1997 President's Award for Outstanding Teaching at SUNY-Stony Brook, and was awarded the 2008 Linback Award for Excellence in Teaching at Bryn Mawr College.
The recipient of numerous grants, Williams received a three-year grant in 2007 from the USDA-CSREES (Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service) Sustainable Agriculture Research an Education to research “Promoting Sustainable Crop Pollination by Wild Bees through Farmer Outreach and Education.”
He earlier won grants from the National Science Foundation, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, the National Fish and Wildlife and Foundation and Nature Conservancy, and the American Museum of Natural History, among others.
He has just received new funding from the National Science Foundation and from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to continue his research in California.
Williams' work has been published in a number of journals, including the Annals of Botany, American Naturalist, Ecological Applications, Ecology Letters, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Download PDF of Native Bee Benefits: How to Increase Native Bee Pollination on Your Farm in Several Simple Steps, By Neal Williams, then of Bryn Mawr College, and Rachel Winfree, Rutgers.