Robinson, who graduated from UC Davis in 1978 with dual degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering, saw Earth from outer space four times during NASA shuttle missions, including the 2005 Space Shuttle Discovery.
“Our Aggienaut (alumni-turned-astronaut) will be asking questions, and we're encouraging others to follow suit and ask questions, too,” said Leal, a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and a member of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology faculty. He is a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
“We've assembled another panel of experts for viewers to address their questions and concerns,” said Leal, whose peers have honored him for his research, teaching and public service.
The COVID-19 Symposium, https://bit.ly/2A2Qd8a, will be streamed via ZOOM and YouTube on Thursday, May 14 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Registration is free.
Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system, will deliver the welcoming address.
Among the panelists: Dr. David Lubarsky, vice chancellor of Human Health Sciences and chief executive officer, UC Davis Health, Dr. Allison Brashear, dean of the School of Medicine, UC Davis, Dr. Emanuel Maverakis, professor of dermatology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Medicine, and Dr. Atul Malhotra, professor of medicine, Pulmonology and Critical Care, UC San Diego Health.
The questions will include:
- Can our pets place us at risk for contracting the coronavirus?
- Can we get the virus through sexual transmission?
- Can COVID-19 survivors get secondary infections?
- What research is underway on COVID-19 therapies, management and testing?
For registration, access https://bit.ly/2A2Qd8a. Registrants can post advance questions and also ask questions online during the symposium.
The first symposium, with a welcoming address by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, spotlighted the cutting-edge expertise of physicians, researchers, and a recovering COVID-19 patient. It is online at https://bit.ly/2VurK3Z. It drew viewers from 10 countries and the comment “I just wanted to thank you! You are my heroes.”
“This give me a sense of hope and calmed my anxiety like nothing else,” letter writer Kim Allen continued. “To hear people, real doctors and scientists who are so knowledgeable talk about what is going on and why, is so appreciated. We need to know what we are contending with to fight it and be safe. You are all so much appreciated!”
(Editor's Note: At the first UC Davis-based COVID-19 virtual seminar, UC Davis distinguished professor James R. Carey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology delivered a presentation on “Actuarial Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The updated presentation is at https://youtu.be/aid69khJftU.)
“It's no more likely to sting and kill a human than a honey bee,” said Kimsey, a two-term past president of the International Society of Hymenopterists, an organization that studies bees, wasps, ants, and sawflies.
“Actually it's less likely, as honey bee venom packs quite a punch and it is exclusively designed to defend against vertebrates,” she said.
“The colony everyone is hyperventilating over was actually found on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, last September when it was destroyed and then a single, dead hornet was found in December in Blaine, Wash.,” Kimsey said. “There is no evidence that there are any more hornets in the vicinity of Vancouver or anywhere else on the West Coast.”
A colony of the Asian giant hornet (AGH), Vespa mandarinia, was found and destroyed Sept. 18, 2019 in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, and the single dead hornet was found Dec. 8, 2019 in Blaine.
These were the first detections of this species in North America, but there may be more, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). Beekeepers have reported “observations” (which may or may not be the same species) dating back to October 2019, WSDA says.
Twenty Asian giant hornet (AGH) specimens are housed in the Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of a global collection of nearly 8 million species. The largest one, a queen, measures about an inch and a half long, Kimsey said.
Meanwhile, entomologists are bemoaning the name, "murder hornet" and the sensationalism and fear-mongering ensuing.
“Some poorly-worded media reports about Asian giant hornets have triggered a veritable avalanche of nonsense online, but I can help set the record straight," wrote senior museum scientist and hymenopterist Douglas Yanega of the UC Riverside Entomology Research Museum.
“One colony was found and exterminated in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in September of 2019, with a few sightings associated,” Yanega wrote. “One wasp believed to be from that colony was found--dead--on the U.S. side of the border near Nanaimo in December. Right now, all the authorities are doing is asking people to keep their eyes peeled JUST IN CASE there were queens that escaped the destruction of the Nanaimo nest, and established their own nests nearby. I was one of the authorities brought in to consult on this case, and to my knowledge there have not been any sightings in 2020 that would suggest the eradication attempt was unsuccessful. Put bluntly, as far as we know, there are no Asian giant hornets alive in either the U.S. or Canada as of 2020, and if there are, then they would be in the immediate vicinity of Vancouver Island (about a 50 mile radius or so).”
Said Kimsey: “A decade or more ago there was a colony of another species, Vespa asiatica, reported near the Port of Long Beach but nothing ever came of that either. A European species, Vespa crabro, was introduced into the East Coast perhaps a century ago and it is now fully established in the southeastern U.S.”
Kimsey says insects often come in cargo boxes from Asia to U.S. ports, establish colonies, and expand their range.
A soon-to-be-published article in the Entomological Society of America's journal, Insect Systematics and Diversity, promises to shed more light on the genus and the history of introductions in the United States. Kimsey and colleagues Allan Smith-Pardo of the USDA and James Carpenter of the America Museum of History, New York, co-authored the review article.
In the abstract, the authors define Vespa as social wasps that are “primarily predators of other insects, and some species are know to attack and feed on honey bees, Apis mellifera, which makes them a serious threat to apiculture.”
“Vespa nests can be physically large, with over 1,000 workers, but usually with hundreds of workers,” they wrote. “Nests can be aerial, attached to tree branches or in shrubs, in crevices, under eaves or underground depending on the species. Depending on the latitude, nests can be either annual, started by a new queen every spring, or perennial, where young queens take over from old ones. Colonies in warm tropical climates tend to be perennial.”
Washington State University Extension has published an AGH fact sheet, the work of the husband-wife team of Susan Cobey, bee breeder-geneticist and Timothy Lawrence, county director of Island County Extension (both formerly of UC Davis), and also Mike Jensen, county director of Pend Oreille. (See https://bit.ly/2SA3TxS)
The WSU scientists wrote that AGH “is the world's largest species of hornet, native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia low mountains and forests. The hornet is well adapted to conditions in the Pacific Northwest.”
“The primary purpose of venom is defense against predators by inflicting pain and damage,” they wrote. ”Vespa mandarinia is one of the two most venomous known insects in the world.. The amount of venom each wasp delivers (4.1 μl/ wasp) has designated V. mandarinia as the most venomous insect. In comparison, the honey bee has about 0.6μl/bee. When foraging for food in spring, the AGH is not highly defensive – unless its nest is disturbed. Late summer and fall, with the high demand for protein, they become very aggressive when attacking or occupying a honey bee colony.”
“It is critical that we identify, trap, and attempt to eliminate this new pest before it becomes established and widespread,” they wrote. “Attempts to contain the spread and eradication of this invasive insect will be most effective in trapping queens during early spring before their nests become established. Finding the nests can be a bit of a challenge. Their nests are typically in the ground though they can also be found under overhangs and within wall voids. The AGH is a strong flier and often will fly up and away and have an extensive flight range. Thus tracking can be difficult.”
They advise residents to “proceed with extreme caution and contact WSDA immediately. Do not try to exterminate the nest yourself.”
Cobey, who examined specimens in Japan last December and shipped some to WSU, commented this week that “I see they have already taken on the media name, murder hornets."
The sensationalism on the media is a concern, said Lawrence, "but...we need to find out just how extensive this infestation is."
Facebook users are posting images of so-called Asian giant hornets that are actually such species as cicada killers, European hornets, southern yellow jacket queens, sawflies, hoverflies, a beetle, and a moth.
“Yes, it is possible this species could establish,” wrote parasitoid wasp specialist and educator Sloan Tomlinson. “Has it yet? No. Until concrete evidence is presented about any further establishment by this species, it's simply conjecture. Additionally, even IF this species is established, their infamy is overhyped and sensationalized. In Japan they do indeed kill around 30 people a year. Around 40 people are killed annually in the US by domestic dogs.”
Doctoral candidate and researcher Ellie Field of Iowa State University wrote on Facebook that “the murder hornet articles are making the rounds quickly and they seem to be doing more harm than good. Yes, it is awesome to track insect populations (particularly staying watchful for non-native and potentially invasive species). But no, the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) is not going to destroy America. The one nest and individual that was found around Vancouver last year was destroyed, and this doesn't indicate any establishment. Introduction events happen all the time, all across the world! That region should continue to keep a watchful eye, but for everyone else this is not going to be relevant. There is no invasion, just a small possibility that some may have overwintered in that area.”
Those unsure about insect identification can email an image to Lynn Kimsey at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Entomological Society of America at https://www.entsoc.org/ or https://bit.ly/2W2jRmi.
Kimsey, master advisor for the department's undergraduate Animal Biology (ABI) program and an assistant adjunct professor, is the newly announced winner of NACADA's Outstanding Advising Award, Faculty Academic Advising.
Elvira Galvan Hack, student academic advisor for ABI, has received a certificate of merit in the highly competitive global category, Outstanding Advising Award, Primary Advising Role.
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.
Highly honored by their peers and students, Kimsey and Hack earlier received awards in the NACADA Region 9 Excellence in Advising Awards. Kimsey this year won the UC Davis Outstanding Faculty Advising Award, and the Distinction in Student Mentoring Award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. Hack was honored at the 2019 Staff Assembly's Citation for Excellence Program, receiving an honorable mention and a cash award in the Individual Service Award category.
Established in 1983, the NACADA Global Awards Program for Academic Advising honors individuals and institutions making "significant impacts on academic advising." The organization, comprised of 13,000 members, “provides a network and professional identity for the thousands of faculty, full-time advisors, and administrators whose responsibilities include academic advising,” a spokesperson said. NACADA' s vision is to recognize that "effective academic advising is at the core of student success." Its mission: "to promote student success by advancing the field of academic advising globally."
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, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, 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."
Known for expertly guiding students toward career paths, and helping them meet challenges and overcome obstacles, Kimsey draws such unsolicited accolades on Rate My Professors as:
- “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.”
Elvira Galvan Hack
Hack, a UC Davis employee since 2011, has served in her position as student academic advisor for undergraduates in the Animal Biology program for 12 years. She is passionate about helping her students succeed professionally, socially and developmentally.
The students seek such careers as physicians, veterinarians, wildlife scientists or researchers. They are diverse: they range from first-generation college students to undocumented immigrants, and they span all socioeconomic levels.
"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.”
Elvira, born in Arizona and raised in Dixon, Calif., was the seventh of eight children born to farmworkers. Her parents successfully ensured that their children grew up happy and healthy and in a loving home filled with family traditions.
Hack credits a UC Davis professor's assistance in helping her attend business school (he loaned her funds to purchase an electric typewriter) that led to her vow "to pay it forward" and "to make a difference."
Hack's 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 roller coasters,” 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.”
“Herd immunity refers to the proportion of a population required for the rate of disease spread to equal zero,” says UC Davis distinguished professor James R. Carey of the Department of Entomology and Nematology. “This occurs at the point when each infected person is infecting only one rather than multiple susceptible persons.”
"For example, the potential rate of spread of new cases per infected person is 10 for mumps and 3 for COVID-19. Therefore, early in a pandemic when few are infected, these diseases can grow by 10-fold and 3-fold, respectively. However when 9-of-10 and 2-of-3 persons in each of these populations have either had these diseases or been vaccinated, then the infected person has only one new person in each case to infect so the rate per case is simply replacement. This is the point when the herd immunity threshold is met.”
Carey, who shared his expertise on scientific modeling and demographics at the UC Davis-based COVID-19 virtual symposium on April 23, updated his presentation April 27 to include herd immunity.
His updated presentation, “Actuarial Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic,” is at https://youtu.be/aid69khJftU.
“The true COVID-19 fatality rate is of great importance because it is needed to estimate the number of persons who will die under different mitigation scenarios and along with death statistics how close we are to achieving herd immunity,” says Carey, co-author of the newly published book, Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods. (See news story.)
"With the so-called reproductive rate, R=3 for COVID-19, and therefore the herd immunity threshold equals 2/3, this means 220 million out of the 330 million in the U.S. population are required to reach the threshold herd immunity. This is why the fatality rate estimation is so critical. If the fatality rate is only 1 out of 100 or 1 percent, then the 50,000 deaths in the U.S. implies that there are only 100 times more or 5 million who are immune. However, if the fatality rate is 1 out of 1000 or 0.1 percent, a rate suggested by the recent studies in both northern and southern California regarding seroprevalence of antibodies (albeit highly controversial yet), then the 50,000 deaths suggest that 1000 times more are immune or 50 million persons. This is nearly a quarter of the 220 million needed in the U.S. to reach heard immunity."
The virtual symposium, organized and moderated by UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal, distinguished professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, is online at https://bit.ly/2VurK3Z. It drew viewers from 10 countries: United States, Germany, Brazil, France, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Canada, Colombia, and Slovakia.
The symposium opened with an introduction by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, and included presentation by UC Davis physician-scientists Emanuel Maverakis, Stuart Cohen and Nathan Kuppermann; UC Davis veterinarian-scientist Nicole Baumgarth; and pediatrician State Sen. Richard Pan, District 6 chair, Senate Committee on Health.
Davis resident and COVID-19 survivor Marilyn Stebbins, a pharmacist who works at the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, told her story in a pre-recorded interview with Leal.
Online interviews also included Michael B. A. Oldstone, M.D., of Scripps Research Institute; professor emeritus Niels Pedersen, DMV, of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Anne Wyllie, PhD., Yale School of Medicine; and You-Lo Hsieh, UC Davis distinguished professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and an expert on textiles and clothing.
As of 4:30 p.m., April 27, nearly 3000 had viewed the COVID-19 presentation on YouTube.
An unsolicited comment to Leal about the symposium:
“I just wanted to thank you! You are my heroes."
“This give me a sense of hope and calmed my anxiety like nothing else,” letter writer Kim Allen continued. “Part of what has been so hard is all the disinformation and complete lies and contradictions that are happening daily. To hear people, real doctors and scientists who are so knowledgeable talk about what is going on and why, is so appreciated. We need to know what we are contending with to fight it and be safe. You are all so much appreciated!”
The $6000 grant is designed to support women over a two-month period in the summer as they prepare a solo-authored manuscript.
Bick's application focused on her scientific modeling work that originated from her Ph.D. program: investigating the lygus bug immigration and aggregation in California strawberries. Lygus hesperus, a serious pest of strawberries--as well as cotton, and seed crops such as alfalfa-- causes an estimated $40 million in annual losses to California's strawberry industry.
Bick's application detailed the academic women who supported her career, including one of her mentors, Cornell University entomology professor Laura Harrington. Additionally, women students she mentored while at UC Davis provided letters of support.
“Prior to receiving this good news, my fiancé, Nora Forbes, and I decided to get married in the historic home of the AAUW in St. Paul, Minn.,” Bick said. “We are both aware of AAUW's legacy of supporting women in their academic pursuits since 1881 and wanted to celebrate in a location in line with their pioneering vision.” Forbes is a statistician at the Danish Medtronic office.
Earlier this year, Bick received a $23,000 fellowship from the American Scandinavian Foundation for her proposal, "Designing Pest-Resilient Apple Orchards Using Bespoke Models." The project will start immediately following the AAUW grant.
As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Copenhagen, the UC Davis alumnus is a member of Professor Lene Sigsgaard's research team. She received a $244,000 postdoctoral grant from the Danish Innovations Fund to estimate insect population dynamics in relation to FaunaPhotonics's LIDAR insect sensor. LIDAR stands for light detection and ranging.
Emily's entomological journey began at Cornell University, where she received her bachelor's degree in entomology in 2013. She then received two degrees in entomology from UC Davis: her master's degree in 2017 and her doctorate in 2019.
Bick, who specializes in integrated pest management, helped anchor the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Linnaean Games Team that won the national championship at the Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting in 2016, and the University of California (UC Davis and UC Berkeley) Linnaean Games Team that won the national championship in 2018. The Linnaean Games, launched in 1983, are lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competitions on entomological facts and played by winners of the ESA branch competitions. The teams score points by correctly answering random questions. (Watch the championship game on YouTube).
While at UC Davis, Bick served as vice president of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA). ESA honored her as a Board-Certified Entomologist in 2014, and the Student Certification Award in 2018. She served as an emergency medical technician from 2008 to 2017.