The event, free and open to the public, takes place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in Room 3001 of PES. It begins with socializing and networking from 6:30 to 7 p.m. It is sponsored by the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, co-founded by the duo of entomologist Diane Ullman of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and self-described rock artist Donna Billick (retired).
The LASERs are a international program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversation with an audience, according to UC Davis moderator/organizer Anna Davidson.
Wes Modes, a Santa Cruz artist and candidate for a masters of fine arts degree at UC Santa Cruz, in its Digital Art and New Media Program, will speak on “A Secret History of American River People” from 7 to 7:25 p.m.
“Secret History is a journey to discover, present, and connect the lost narratives of people who live and work on the river from the deck of a recreated shanty boat,” Modes said. With help from numerous people who work and live on the river, he is creating a growing digital archive of personal histories — "the lost stories of river people, river communities, and the river itself, including the personal chronicle of the artist's adventure.”
Modes has exhibited his new media work and sculpture regionally since 1996. He worked in the tech industry for 25 years as a software engineer, systems administrator, and systems architect. His website is modes.io
Alison Van Eenennaam, a genomics and biotechnology researcher and Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Animal Science, will speak on “Alba: the Fluorescent Bunny” from 7:25 to 7:50.
In her abstract, she explains that Eduardo Kac, a professor of art and technology at the Chicago School of Art Institute, produced a picture of a green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgenic bunny called “Alba." The so-called "GFP Bunny" was realized in 2000 and first presented publicly in Avignon, France. The artist proposed that “transgenic art” is a new art form based on the use of genetic engineering to transfer natural or synthetic genes to an organism, to create unique living beings.
Kac came under considerable criticism for the picture which some consider to have been fabricated. "The picture itself is a construction," said Reinhard Nestelbacher, a molecular biologist at the University of Salzburg. "The rabbit could never look like that," he said. "The main reason is that the GFP gene is expressed, for example, in the skin and cannot be expressed in the hair." Stuart Newman, a member of the Council for Responsible Genetics and a cell biologist at New York Medical College, said that “Art misrepresents reality all the time -- and he's an artist, not a scientist, but I think people are beholden to tell the truth. Van Eenennaam wonders if “artists are beholden to tell the truth about GMOs.”
Van Eenennaam received a bachelor's degree in animal science from the University of Melbourne, Australia. At UC Davis, she received a master's degree in animal science and a doctorate in genetics. She defines the mission of her extension program as: “to provide research and education on the use of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock production systems.” Van Eenennaam's outreach program focuses on the development of science-based educational materials including the controversial biotechnologies of genetic engineering (GE) and cloning. Van Eenennaam has served on several national committees including the USDA National Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21stt Century Agriculture, (2005-2009), and as a temporary voting member of the 2010 FDA Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committeemeeting on the AquAdvantage salmon, the first GE animal to be evaluated for entry into the food supply. Van Eenennaam was the recipient of the 2014 Borlaug Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) Communication Award.
Following her talk, a networking/socializing break will take place from 7:50 to 8:10. Anyone can share work, announce an exhibition or a show, or share an idea.
Vitale says he has explored the sounds and symbols of Bali all his life. He is now creating “Mikrokosma Bali,” a suite of pieces that will be performed by the 12 percussionist-composers of the Lightbulb Ensemble, led by Brian Baumbusch in collaboration with live media artist Ian Winters. Played on a newly created instrumentarium based on Balinese gamelan, Mikrokosma Bali will premiere May 1-2 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, alongside works from the mainstream gamelan tradition performed by Gamelan Sekar Jaya. Mikrokosma Bali, supported by a Gerbode Music Commissioning Award, is Vitale's second large-scale multimedia work in a triptych that began with Makrokosma Bali in 2011, and will conclude with Buana Agung-Buana Alit in 2016.
“All examine various facets of the sound worlds, musical forms, and Hindu cosmologies of Bali, particularly in dialog with outside, that is Western, conceptions,” Vitale says. “This LASER presentation will delve into the microcosms of sound in the new work, touching on the tunings, timbre, and spectra of both traditional Balinese gamelan and the newly created instruments.”
Vitale has worked with many of Bali's greatest musicians, extensively documenting their work, and has led myriad projects, bringing them together with diverse artists and audiences. His works for Bronze Gamelan, spanning a stylistic range from traditional to experimental/ multimedia, have been performed by noted Gamelan orchestras in Bali, and have directly influenced the evolution of Balinese music. His website is gsj.org.
Siembieda's art practice intersects social practice, institutional critique, intervention and new media. Most of her work emphazises the environment and technology. She began her most recent project, “The Art Inspector,” in 2009 as a method to reduce the carbon footprint of art. "This project has been funded by Silicon Valley Energy Watch to conduct energy assessments on artist studios and take them through an eco-art makeover," she said. Siembieda is an artist in residence at the TechShop, San Jose, where she creates a body of work around cyborg politics and the anthropocene. Some of her other roles: digital marketing specialist for ForestEthics, affiliate program manager for Leonardo/ The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (ISAST), a board member of the Emerging Arts Professionals and Women's Environmental Art Directory; and art consultant for the San Francisco Department of the Environment.
Siembieda holds a master of fine arts degree in digital media art from San Jose State University. She works with the CADRE (Computers in Art, Design, Research, and Education) Laboratory for New Media at San Jose State University, where students, faculty, and visiting artists gather to explore the future of technology and art. Her focus is on green technologies and sustainable materials. Her website is siembieda.com.
The moderator/organizer of UC Davis/LASER is Anna Davidson, a master of fine arts student in Art Studio, UC Davis. She received her doctorate in 2014 from UC Davis, studying plant ecophysiology. Davidson studies the biological world using both artistic and scientific approaches.
A team of entomology graduate students from the University of California, Davis, successfully argued at the Entomological Society of America's recent student debates that a ban on the insecticides in agriculture “will not improve pollinator health or restore populations, based on current science. Neonicotinoids are important for control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests. Part of the solution is to develop better regulations that will protect the health of pollinators and retain the use of an important IPM tool.”
“Neonicotinoids are important for control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests,” team captain Mohammad-Amir Aghaee said at the onset. “Part of the solution is to develop better regulations that will protect the health of pollinators and retain the use of an important IPM (integrated pest management) tool.” The team also argued successfully that neonicotinoids (also known as neonics) are not all “created equal.”
The insecticide, chemically similar to nicotine, is implicated in the mass die-off of pollinators. The European Union recently adopted a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the nenicotinoid family (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for a period of two years. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that by January 2016, it will ban the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and the use of crops improved through biotechnology throughout the 150 million acres managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System.
ESA officials chose the debate topic and assigned UC Davis to debate the “con” side and Auburn University, the “pro” side. The Auburn team argued that neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops, and that the use of neonicotinoids should end. The debates took place at ESA's 62nd annual meeting, held in Portland, Ore.
The Auburn roster included captain Olufemi Ajayi, Adekunle Adesanya, Julian Golec, Matt Burrows, Scott Clem and alternate Zi Ye. Associate professor David Held served as their advisor.
ESA sponsors the lively, cross-examination-style student debates as an educational and entertaining component of its annual meetings. The teams are given eight months to prepare. Team members must be enrolled in an entomology degree program (bachelor, masters or doctorate). Each debate spans 45 minutes and includes a seven-minute statement by each team; cross-examinations; rebuttals; and questions from the judges and audience.
- Pesticides are IMPORTANT tools used in modern agriculture
- Neonicotinoids were registered as reduced risk pesticide to replace the organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids
- Banning neonicotinoids would increase of use of pesticides that have known non-target effects
The UC Davis team agreed that acute and chronic studies "have shown that neonics are toxic to honey bees and bumble bees (Blacquiere et al. 2012)" but argued that “all neonics are not created equal (Brown et al. 2014). They cited “inconsistent results with field-realistic doses (Cresswell et al. 2012)" and noted that “many other factors have been documented as contributing to pollinator decline (Epstein et al. 2012).”
It's not just insecticides that are killing bees, the UC Davis entomologists said. They listed the varroa mite (Varroa destructor), considered by U.S. beekeepers as Public Enemy No. 1; vectored pathogens, acaricides, antibiotics and fungicides directly added to the colony; pathogens such as American foulbrood and Nosema bombi; inadequate honey bee nutrition; insufficient food substitute: habitat fragmentation; land-use changes; and the increasing demand for pollination changes.
The UC Davis entomologists recommended that
- Regulatory agencies need to have more thorough registration guidelines that incorporate bee toxicity data for all pesticides (Hopwood et al. 2012). This would encompass chronic toxicity, sublethal effects and synergistic effects.
- Better management practices be mandated that follow IPM principles that protect bees on crops (Epstein et al. 2012). This would include banning certain application strategies, using less toxic neonicotinoids, and encompass the essential education and communication.
In its summary statement, the UC Davis team said: “There is NO definitive scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are the primary cause of pollinator declines. Neonicotinoids are important reduced risk pesticides for management of some of our most damaging pests. Neonicotinoids should be better regulated, not banned." They concluded: “Given the current state of knowledge, banning neonicotinoids is a premature and disproportionate response to a complex issue. This requires holistic scientific inquiry and interpretation, and cooperation among stakeholders. Any changes must be based on science rather than opinion, current trends, or fear.”
The Auburn team, or the pro-team, opened the debate with “Neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops. The use of neonicotinoids should end.”
Why? They outlined six key points:
- Critical time for pollinators in the United States
- Lethal and sub-lethal effects
- Prevalence and exposure
- Effects on other pollinators
- Food Quality and Protection Act (FQPA) as a precedent
Expanding on the fact that this is “a critical time for pollinators in the United States,” the Auburn team pointed out:
- Honey bees pollinate $15-20 billion worth of crops in the U.S., and $200 billion worldwide
- Approximately $3 billion worth of crop pollination services are provided by native bees
- Colony Collapse Disorder likely has many contributing factors but many of those are enhanced by neonicotinoids
- The declining honey bee population: the U.S. had 6 million bee colonies in 1947 and now it's down to 2.5 million
The Auburn team keyed in on lethal and sublethal effects of neonics: synergistic interactions with other pesticides, including DMI (demethylation inhibitor) fungicides; increased susceptibility to pathogens (Nosema spp.); decrease in foraging success; decrease in overwintering queen survival; learning impairment consequences; and reproductive inhibition.
The Alabama-based team also called attention to prevalence and exposure to neonicotinoids. They discussed the neonicotinoid residues found on bee-pollinated crops and plants by various means of exposure: seed coating; foliar spray, soil drench, trunk injections; length of residue (soil vs. foliage and length of bee exposure); and single exposures resulting in season-long impacts. They also said the multiple means of exposure due to application can lead to multiple routes of exposure within bees: via pollen, nectar, guttation fluid and extrafloral nectaries.
In addition, the Auburn entomologists argued that new and novel modes of action and classes of insecticides are emerging. leading to alternative options, and that the banning of neonics in agriculture won't destroy agriculture. They also discussed the restriction of organophosphate use with the adoption of FQPA in 1996. If neonics were banned, they said, this could open the door “for stronger and more reliable risk assessment” and potentially, "the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) tactics."
In their concluding statement, the Auburn team said that current tools for risk assessment may not be adequate; and that limiting neonicotinoid use will not harm agriculture--"it will open the door for more sustainable agriculture and new insecticides." They emphasized that we must save our pollinators, especially in the United States. "The United States is a special case--globally there is an increase in bee colonies; however, the United States is at a critical point at which bee pollination services are being threatened irreversibly."
One of the several swaying arguments that led to UC Davis winning the debate was that not all neonics are created equal, and thus, they should not all be lumped together as "an equal" and all be banned.
The UC Davis team received a $500 cash award, a plaque and a perpetual trophy engraved with UC Davis. ESA president Frank Zalom, a distinguished professor and IPM specialist in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, presented the awards. UC Davis team consultants included Extension apiculturist (emeritus) Eric Mussen and Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey, both of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Dave Fujino, director of the California Center for Urban Horticulture at UC Davis.
Mussen, who retired in June after 38 years of service, met periodically with the UC Davis team at its practices. He is frequently asked if neonics are the primary cause of CCD. "Neonics are only one of the classes of pesticide residues that we frequently find in analyses of adult bees, beeswax and stored pollens," he says. "We encounter CCD in colonies in which no neonicotinoid residues can be found, and we find colonies surviving year after year with measurable residues of neonicotinoids in the hives. Obviously, neonicotinoids do not appear to be "'the primary' cause of CCD."
Prior to the meeting, each team submitted a draft summary of its position (600 words maximum), and no more than 15 references, to the Student Affairs Committee Chair. After the meeting, each team can revise its manuscript before it is submitted for publication to the ESA journal, American Entomologist.
UC Davis Team Practicing for Student Debate
The event, set Sept. 4-7 in St. Helena, Winters and Davis, is themed “Flavor, Quality and American Menus.” Both Williams and Harris will speak Thursday morning on the CIA campus at the session on “The Role of Bees in American Agriculture: From Hive Health and Honey to Sustainable Pollination.”
In his talk, Williams will cover the role of bees and pollination services in sustainable food supply, new findings about how pollination can affect fruit quality, the synergies of pollination by wild bee/honey-bee threats to bees “and what we are doing to mitigate these.”
Williams' research on pollination spans the disciplines of conservation biology, behavioral ecology and evolution. One of his primary research foci is on sustainable pollination strategies for agriculture. This work is critical given ongoing pressures facing managed honey bees and reported declines in important native pollinators such as bumble bees.
Harris has been active in the varietal honey business for more than 30 years as co-owner of Z Specialty Foods, LLC. She will discuss the establishment of the newly formed Honey and Pollination Center and will present a slide show on the goals and programs of the Center and information about honey use and consumption in the United States. The center is affiliated with the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The four-day workshop, geared for chefs and future chefs, by invitation only, begins Wednesday, Sept. 4 at the CIA building. Opening remarks will be delivered by Michael McCarthy, chair of the UC Davis Food Science and Technology Department, and Clare Hasler-Lewis of the Robert Mondavi Institute.
Among the featured speakers are Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of food and Agriculture, and Craig McNamara, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture and owner of Sierra Orchards. Both will address the conference on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 5.
On Friday, the group will head to Winters and UC Davis. In Winters, they will tour the Wolfskill Experimental Orchards, the Farm on Putah Creek, and the Center for Land-Based Learning, all on Putah Creek Road.
Friday’s session at UC Davis includes a tour of the RMI brewing, milk, and food processing, and winery facilities; and a sensory experience in the RMI’a Silverado Sensory Theater
Saturday’s session takes place in St. Helena on the CIA campus.
Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, senior director of Programs and Culinary Nutrition, Strategic Initiatives, Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.
But the 15 University of California, Davis, students weren't skipping class.
They were taking it.
Slipping off their backpacks, they trekked down to the sluggish Putah Creek west of campus to try their luck catching sunfish, bass and other fish. They stood on the sun-dappled banks and cast their lines in the water as life itself floated by. A tadpole surfaced and darted back to the muddy bottom; a crawfish poked through the thick algae looking for prey; and dragonflies and butterflies lurked and glided across the creek.
An errant soccer ball, now a creek trophy, bobbed like a gigantic cork. Off in the distance, a boastful rooster served as the morning D.J.
It was the second week of classroom instruction on the UC Davis campus. But this classroom has no walls, no roof, no desks and no chairs.
It's an annual animal biology class taught by forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, an adjunct professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology who is known for his excellence in teaching and commitment to students. For one day of the quarter, he takes his students, in groups of 15 and teams of two, fishing.
But it's much more than that.
His unique teaching approach starts with a “fish sampling field trip” that exposes his students to “the methods and practice of sampling fishes using common techniques from fisheries biology,” Kimsey said. It's one part of the scientific method: an hypothesis, experiments to test that hypothesis, analysis of the data, conclusions, and communication of the results.
“ABI50A is a two-unit animal biology laboratory course that introduces students to the scientific method as a continuous process,” said Kimsey, the recipient of several teaching awards, including the 2006 Outstanding Educator in the College of Biological Sciences, presented by the Associated Students of UC Davis.
“Bob is one of our most outstanding instructors in the Department of Entomology,” said Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. “He is truly dedicated to the students and strives to get them to ‘think' in this and other outdoor classrooms rather than simply memorize and regurgitate facts.”
Some students had never fished before. No problem. Kimsey and his teaching assistant, Amy Morice, an entomology graduate student, showed them how, along with student and veteran angler Sarah Pereverzieu, who for the last three summers has worked as a nature guide at the Alisal Guest Ranch, Solvang, “One of my duties was to teach guests how to fish,” she said.
Expressly for the field trip, Kimsey obtained the proper permits from the California Department of Fish and Game that allowed him to use seines, wire fish traps or cages, and rods and reels. The day before the class, he paddled out in his canoe to set the fish cages. The next morning, at the edge of the creek, he discussed the history of fishing and demonstrated how to catch them. Students took turns paddling with him to check the fish traps.
All total, the 15 students caught two fish, several crawfish, a tadpole, algae, a tree branch, tree leaves and a rash. Stacy Williams of Orange, Calif., hooked a small sunfish while Shannon Kaefer of Salinas, reeled in a small largemouth bass. The seines, weighted nets that float along the top of the surface, snared the lone tadpole, while the fishing traps yielded the crawfish.
“Some inquires are deceptively simple,” he said. “For example, it may be that the literature indicates that a particular species of sunfish prefers to reside in submerged aquatic vegetation. One might predict that their prey does as well. A curious student can test this idea by comparing stomach contents of this species with samples of insect prey sampled from aquatic plants in the Delta.”
“Simple as this project may appear to be,” he said, “teams of students go through the entire process of gathering preliminary information, agreeing on a pair of mutually exclusive hypotheses that predict observations they can make from fish dissections, writing a grant proposal, gathering the data from dissections in the laboratory, data analysis, drawing conclusions, writing a paper and giving a PowerPoint presentation talk to the rest of the class on their results.”
The work is done in teams, but each student writes his or her own version of the paper and gives a portion of the PowerPoint presentation.
“The hidden agendas of this course,” he said, “include promoting writing and public speaking skills and learning to work in teams, three essential social skills of any good scientist.”
Kimsey said new questions arise in any scientific inquiry, “not only from the results of a well thought-out test of an idea, but from the process of inquiry itself. Thus the scientific method perpetually exposes our ignorance of the world around us stimulating new ideas and questions to be explored.”
And how to catch fish on a sun-dappled morning along Putah Creek while their peers are sitting in lecture halls.
“This was for our remarkable performances in faculty scholarly productivity, scientific citations per faculty, percentage of faculty with a journal publication, number of journal publications per faculty, and grantsmanship, among other factors,” said Walter Leal, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology.
Last year the Chronicle ranked the UC Davis Department of Entomology as No. 8 in the country. “We're back at the top where we belong,” Leal said.
The Chronicle of Higher Education is considered the top news and job-information source for college and university faculty members, administrators, and students.
The 2007 index compiles overall institutional rankings on 375 universities that offer the Ph.D. degree. Faculty members can be judged on as many as five factors, depending on the most important variables in the given discipline: books published; journal publications; citations of journal articles; federal-grant dollars awarded; and honors and awards.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison came in second, followed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; UC Riverside; University of Arizona; University of Maryland at College Park, Cornell University; North Carolina State University; University of Kentucky; and the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities.
UC Davis scored 1.87 in the faculty scholarly productivity index, outdistancing the 1.44 index of the University of Wisconsin, the runner-up.
UC Davis scored a perfect 100 percent for percentage of faculty with a journal publication. Other top categories included journal publications per faculty, an average of 12.39; and percentage of faculty with a journal publication cited by another work, 94 percent. Citations of journal articles per faculty averaged 70.28.
The average amount of grant funding per faculty member for the past fiscal year totaled $412,251. Thirty-three percent of the faculty received a new grant. Eleven percent of the faculty received an award, according to the data. collected.
Grant data were collected from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and from three programs in the Department of Energy.
For awards and honors, data were collected from the Web sites of 357 organizations that grant awards and honors and they are matched to names and programs.
The department traces its beginnings back to 1907 when a UC Berkeley professor lectured on whiteflies at a farmers' short course in Davis. UC Davis launched its two-year entomology program in 1913, leading to degrees offered in 1923-24.
Areas of emphasis include biological control, economic entomology, pollination biology, insect chemical ecology, insect olfaction, insect demography, insect physiology, insect toxicology, integrated pest management, ecology and evolution, forensic entomology, medical entomology (human and animal health) and systematics.
Headquartered in Briggs Hall, the department enjoys a fusion of teaching faculty, Cooperative Extension specialists, professional researchers, international scholars, graduate and undergraduate students, and academic and staff support. The department's work on fundamental and applied problems has led to ground-breaking scientific discoveries, integrated pest management approaches in California's agricultural and urban environments, management of insect-vectored human diseases and a global impact that stretches from UC Davis to Africa and South America and beyond, Leal said.
The Entomology Department is the home of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, which houses more than seven million specimens; the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility; UC Davis Superfund Basic Research and Training; and the Mosquito Research Lab. Department faculty housed at the UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier, conduct research involving insect-plant interactions, economy entomology, and mosquito-borne diseases, such as West Nile virus and malaria. In addition, related research spans a variety of UC ecological preserves and biological field stations, including the Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve in the Vaca Mountains; Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center, in Northern California's foothills; Sagehen Creek Field Station, near Truckee; Jepson Prairie Reserve in Vacaville; Bodega Marine Reserve; Hopland Field State near Ukiah; Wolfskill Experiment Orchard in Winters; UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine; and the Blodgett Experimental Forest in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Graduate students in the entomology program, or housed in entomology, conduct research in insect demography, medical entomology, insect systematics, biological control, integrated pest management, insect biochemistry, insect ecology, insect pathology, biology and evolution of insects, aquatic ecology, insect physiology, environmental toxicology, apiculture, horticultural entomology, and insect vectors of plant pathogens.
Many of the UC Davis Department of Entomology alumni now chair entomology departments at other universities or hold higher administrative posts; head professional scientific organizations; or lead teams advancing scientific studies. Fifty-five alumni hold university faculty positions