The free, public open house. featuring spiders and other arachnids, promises to be one of the biggest events--if not the leggiest!--of the year on the UC Davis campus and beyond. The Bohart Museum is located in the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane.
A "powerhouse" of arachnologists will be participating, said Jason Bond, associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He will be hosting the conference with Lisa Chamberland, postdoctoral research associate, Department of Entomology and Nematology, and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.
“There will be everything--spider specimens, live arachnids, activities, artwork, etc.," Professor Bond said.
Some 20 exhibits and activities will be set up in the hallway of the Academic Surge Building, said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator.
Professor Eileen Hebets of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is co-hosting the open house as part of a U.S. National Science Foundation grant, “Eight-Legged Encounters” that she developed as an outreach project to connect arachnologists with communities, especially youth. See https://www.youtube.com/
Through the NSF grant, awarded in 2013, Hebets seeks to educate the public “about the wonders of biology and the possibility of scientific discovery using a charismatic and engaging group of animals--arachnids. Arachnids (spiders and their relatives) are ubiquitous, thriving in most habitable environments on our planet (including underwater),” Professor Hebets writes on her website at https://hebetslab.unl.edu/
“As a scientist, a mother, and an educator, I often see the disconnect between youth and the world around them; between problem solving skills, observation skills, critical thinking, natural curiosity and the more traditional formal teaching programs experienced by many students,” she writes. “Youth are innately curious and tremendously creative and my aim is to leverage these traits for their own educational advancements in a fun and engaging manner.”
To date, Hebets and her collaborators have developed more than 25 modular activity stations “encompassing arts and crafts, experiments, games, and other hands-on activities." They include classification and taxonomy, spiders and silk, path of predators, and hands-on science.
Also at the open house, plans call for “A Name-That-Spider-Species" contest, coordinated by postdoctoral fellow Lisa Chamberland and PhD students Iris Bright and Emma Jochim of the Bond lab. “We'll have an exhibit at the event with details on the spider,” Bond said. It's a trapdoor spider from the genus Promyrmekiaphila. “We'd like to restrict naming suggestions to be youths attending the event, students 18 years and younger."
Another highlight of the American Arachnological
Newton studies with Professor Jason Bond, associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"Spiders placed in the infraorder Mygalomorphae (tarantulas, trapdoor spiders and their kin) are generally recognized as an ancient cosmopolitan lineage that has persisted for over 250 million years," Newton wrote in her abstract. "Mygalomorph life history traits that include limited dispersal abilities, habitat specialization, and site fidelity altogether make them ideal organisms for studying speciation pattern and process, phylogeography, and adaptation. Evolutionary studies of mygalomorphs at both shallow and deeper phylogenetic levels have been limited prior to the advent of next generation sequencing approaches, with the majority of such studies relying on morphological characters or limited targeted locus approaches for phylogenetic reconstruction. Thus, it is imperative to implement larger genomic-scale datasets for confident reconstruction of relationships."
Her dissertation focuses on species delimitation in two trapdoor spider groups, Antrodiaetus unicolor complex and Aptostichus icenoglei sister species complex, and evaluation of interspecific relationships within the genus Aptostichus. To address species boundaries in the A. unicolor species complex, she implemented genomic-scale data (that it, restriction-site associated DNA sequencing, RADseq) in conjunction with morphological, behavioral, and ecological data to evaluate cohesion species identity (Chapter I).
Similarly, assessing species boundaries in the Aptostichus icenoglei sibling species complex involved a target capture approach for subgenomic data (that is, ultraconserved elements, UCEs) and ecological data to evaluate genetic and ecological exchangeability, as per the cohesion species-based delimitation approach from a previous study (Chapter II).
Newton expects to receive her doctorate by the end of summer and "then I will be heading to the American Museum of Natural History where I will be working in Jessica Ware's lab as a postdoctoral fellow on systematics of broader Odonata as well as Anisoptera (dragonflies)."
First-Generation College Student. Born and raised in Eupora, Miss., Lacie is a first-generation college student. She received her bachelor of science degree in biological sciences from Millsaps College in 2016 and then enrolled in the graduate school program at Auburn University, Alabama, studying with Professor Bond. When he accepted the Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics in 2018, Lacie, along with other lab members, transferred to UC Davis.
What sparked her interest in spiders? “I actually used to be terrified of spiders,” Lacie acknowledged. “It wasn't until fall semester of my sophomore year when I took a zoology course that I began to appreciate not only the vast amount of diversity within spiders but also how amazing they are as a group, such as the tensile strength of spider silk being comparable to steel, spider venoms playing a role in potential medical applications, and a myriad of feeding strategies, etc..”
Her research on folding-door spiders or the Antrodiaetus unicolor species complex led to a journal article published in Molecular Ecology: “Integrative Species Delimitation Reveals Cryptic Diversity in the Southern Appalachian Antrodiaetus unicolor (Araneae: Antrodiaetidae) Species Complex.” UC Davis co-authors are Professor Bond, who is the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, and project scientist James Starrett of the Bond lab.
Newton is active in both the American Arachnological Society (AAS) and the Society of Systematic Biologists. She won a second-place award for her oral presentation on species delimitation at the 2019 AAS meeting, held at Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va.
At UC Davis, Newton served as a teaching assistant for the “Introduction to Biology: Biodiversity and the Tree of Life” course. Her resume also includes:
- mentoring undergraduate students in the Mentoring Program, Equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Entrepreneurship (ESTEME) organization, a graduate student organization dedicated to improving equity and inclusion in STEM fields, entrepreneurship, and leadership positions.
- volunteering on the admissions committee for GOALS, the Girls' Outdoor Adventure in Leadership and Science, a summer science program for high school students to learn science hands-on while backpacking through the wilderness.
AAS Conference at UC Davis. Newton is looking forward to the AAS conference, set June 26-30, at UC Davis, and will be assisting at the Eight-Legged Encounters open house from 1 to 4 p.m., June 25 at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. The event will officially kick off the AAS meeting.
A "powerhouse" of arachnologists will be participating, said Bond, who will be hosting the conference with Lisa Chamberland, postdoctoral research associate, Department of Entomology and Nematology, and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.
Professor Eileen Hebets of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is co-hosting the open house as part of a U.S. National Science Foundation grant, “Eight-Legged Encounters” that she developed as an outreach project to connect arachnologists with communities, especially youth.
Some 20 exhibits and activities will be set up in the hallway of the Academic Surge Building, said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. “There will be everything--spider specimens, live arachnids, activities, artwork, etc.," Bond related.
Another highlight of the American Arachnological
Dr. Mussen, a resident of Davis, was admitted to a local hospital on May 25. He was diagnosed with liver cancer/failure on May 31 and returned to the family home June 1 for hospice care. He passed away the evening of June 3.
“Eric was a giant in the field of apiculture,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “The impact of his work stretched far beyond California.”
Dr. Mussen, known to all as “Eric,” joined the UC Davis entomology department in 1976. Although he retired in 2014, he continued his many activities until a few weeks prior to his death. For nearly four decades, he drew praise as “the honey bee guru,” “the pulse of the bee industry" and as "the go-to person" when consumers, scientists, researchers, students, and the news media sought answers about honey bees.
“Eric's passing is a huge loss," said longtime colleague Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology. "He was always the go-to person for all things honey bee. He worked happily with hobbyists, commercial beekeepers and anyone just generally interested."
Colleagues described Mussen as the “premier authority on bees and pollination in California, and one of the top beekeeping authorities nationwide,” “a treasure to the beekeeping industry," and "a walking encyclopedia when it comes to honey bees.”
“Eric's career was so productive and exciting that a book would be required to do justice for his many contributions to his profession as extension entomologist specializing in apiculture, better known as beekeeping,” Gary said. “His mission basically was facilitating productive and reciprocal communication between beekeeping researchers at UC Davis, commercial beekeeping as it affects California's vast needs for the pollination of agricultural crops, providing helpful information to hobby beekeepers, and educating the general public concerning honey bees. His great professional successes in all areas have been recognized around the world. He has received numerous awards, especially from the beekeeping industry. He was by far the best Extension apiculturist in this country!”
“In addition to professional duties, he enthusiastically tackled other projects for entomology faculty,” Gary said. “For example, he critically reviewed most of my publications, including scientific papers, books, and bulletins. He worked diligently to help create the Western Apicultural Society and later served as president. (Mussen served six terms as president, the last term in 2017.) I especially appreciated his volunteering to moderate a video that historically summarized and recorded my entire 32-year career at UC Davis. And his tribute would not be complete without mentioning that he was one of my favorite fishing buddies.”
“Eric was proud of his loving wife, Helen, and family (sons Timothy and Christopher and two grandchildren),” Gary said. “His family support was unconditional. He will be sadly missed by everyone.”
Leslie Saul-Gershenz, a UC Davis doctoral alumnus in entomology, praised his kindness and generosity. “I have known Eric for over 30 years and he was the kindest, most supportive human being. He always came to speak at the San Francisco Bee Club to support local beekeepers and was the most generous of colleagues anyone could ever hope for. He was a immense resource of knowledge about honey bees, and I am sure he will be missed by many people across the state of California.”
Mussen's longtime friends and colleagues--bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey of Washington State University (WSU), a former manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility, UC Davis, and her husband, Timothy Lawrence, WSU associate professor and county director, WSU Extension, Island County--are heartbroken. “Eric is an icon of the beekeeping industry and beyond, a career shaper, problem solver, the information man who always had an answer or would find one, and, always given with integrity, regardless of the issue, biological or political, to whoever posed the question and need," Cobey said. "His contributions, impact and love from the people he touched will live, continuing to contribute and benefit their lives. His spirit is with us.”
Jackie Park-Burris of Jackie Park-Burris Queens, Inc., Palo Cedro, a leader in the queen bee breeding and beekeeping industries, said she met Eric more than 40 years ago “and from day one he was mentoring me. He was the bee guy for the entire country! Eric was the bee industry's connection to the scientific world. Eric understood both camps and he connected them. Eric had incredible integrity that I have never seen matched. Because of that integrity, beekeepers felt confident in sharing their problems with him, knowing their secrets were safe. Eric always voiced the opinion he felt was right, even if it wasn't the most popular.”
“Eric told me that he looked at the bee industry as his family,” said Park-Burris, a past president of CBSA and a member of the board of directors for more than 20 years. “When my son attended UC Davis, he and Helen made sure Ryan knew he could contact them if he needed anything. Eric even came to a function on campus that my son was in charge of to show support.”
“At last year's CSBA convention. I was awarded the Eric Mussen Distinguished Service Award. Eric sent me an email, congratulating me and told me he could not think of a more qualified person to receive it. It bought a tear to my eye back then, now I will treasure that email even more.” A photo of an early-career Mussen appears on her website.
Patrick “Pat” Heitkam, owner of Heitkam's Honey Bees, Orland, recalled the beekeeping industry's turbulent times in the 1980s. “He was many things and I'm certain no one will fill his position as admirably as he did. The mid-'80s were a turbulent time for commercial beekeepers in California. The advent of tracheal mites and later varroa disrupted our ability to make a living. We were affected in different ways. Passions ran high. Eric maintained the respect of all concerned. I was frustrated, more than once, because he wouldn't tell me what I wanted to hear. He was a scientist, stayed neutral, and only commented when he could be factual. I saw him as the level-headed patriarch of his dysfunctional beekeeping family. This is one of his many attributes. I can't say enough about his value to bee world.”
Randy Oliver of ScientificBeekeeping.com ("beekeeping through the eyes of a biologist") treasured him. "Eric Mussen was not only a longtime friend and collaborator of mine, but a model for me. He was a beloved and exemplary Extension apiculturist, with his engaging presentations, interpreting the science for the benefit of beekeepers. His monthly newsletter was an important source of information to not only California beekeepers, but also to many across the United States and around the world. Eric always made time to happily share information with anyone who asked. I reminisced with his wife Helen shortly before his passing about his joy at doo-wop singing, and I'm sure that that's how this bright light of a man would like to be remembered."
Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and co-owner of Z Specialty Food, Inc., commented that "When I first came to California in the early 1980s, I was working with my husband establishing and growing a varietal honey company. One of the first people I met at UC Davis was Eric Mussen, the state apiculturist. Eric was someone who had a lot of answers to a lot of questions! Ever the educator, Eric was well versed in all of the issues of the bee world and readily shared his knowledge with any and everyone who asked. His answers were always down to earth and understandable, with his wry Midwestern sense of humor running underneath. You'd ask a question – and you always got an answer!"
Born May 12, 1944 in Schenectady, N.Y., Mussen received his bachelor's degree in entomology from the University of Massachusetts (after declining an offer to play football at Harvard) and then obtained his master's degree and doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota in 1969 and 1975, respectively. Mussen credits his grandfather with sparking his interest in insects. His grandfather, a self-taught naturalist, would take his young grandson to the woods to point out flora and fauna.
Bees became his life, and Mussen thoroughly enjoyed his career. For nearly four decades, Mussen wrote and published the bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, and short, topical articles called Bee Briefs, providing beekeepers with practical information on all aspects of beekeeping. His research focused on managing honey bees and wild bees for maximum field production, while minimizing pesticide damage to pollinator populations.
A favorite among the news media for his bee expertise and personality, Mussen appeared on the Lehrer Hour, BBC, Good Morning America, National Public Radio (Science Friday) and other major news outlets, and was quoted by the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times, among others.
Highly honored by his peers, Mussen received the 2006 California Beekeeper of the Year award; the American Association of Professional Apiculturists' 2007 Award of Excellence in Extension Apiculture; the 2008 Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America; the 2010 statewide Pedro Ilic Outstanding Agricultural Educator; and was a member of the UC Davis Bee Team that won the 2013 team award from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America.
Among his scores of awards: the 2013-14 Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Extension from the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and the 2013 Alexander Hodson Graduate Alumni Award from his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.
Gene Brandi, the 2018 president of the American Beekeeping Federation, remembers presenting him with the prestigious Founders' Award from the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees at the 75th annual American Beekeeping Federation conference in Reno. "Eric received a well-deserved rousing standing ovation!” said Brandi, extolling him as "an outstanding liaison between the academic world of apiculture and real-world beekeeping and crop pollination."
"Eric was a legend in the beekeeping world who was always willing to go the extra mile to help beekeepers and bee industry organizations deal with issues pertaining to honey bee health, regulations, and various threats to the industry," Brandi said. "He also helped agricultural organizations, government officials, and the general public better understand the value of honey bees to the world. Eric was a great advocate for the honey bee and beekeepers. He was truly a national treasure.
"Eric served on the California State Beekeepers Association Board of Directors for 39 years as apiculturist, but he also was the parliamentarian for many years, and due to his long tenure, was quite the historian as well," Brandi added. "He co-founded the Western Apicultural Society and served as president for six terms. He founded the American Association of Professional Apiculturists and was either president of secretary/treasurer for the first ten years."
"In addition to his work with the aforementioned organizations, Eric was the UC Honey Bee Liaison to California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, EPA, California Farm Bureau Federation, Almond Board of California, National Honey Board, California Bee Breeders' Association, and others. Eric was always willing to help the beekeeping industry by testifying at hearings or writing letters to support the bee industry on various issues. He received many awards from a number of organizations, but the ones with which I am most familiar are the California State Beekeepers Association Distinguished Service Award as well as the Beekeeper of the Year Award. The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees honored Eric in 2018 with the coveted Founders; Award.
Brandi related that "Eric also conducted a number of research projects over the years including research on sacbrood virus, effects of medfly sprays on honey bees, effects of antibiotics of honey bee brood, potential of Neem as a varroa control, effects of selected fungicides on honey bee brood, effects of antibiotics, and effects of high-fructose corn syrup on packaged bee development. Eric's "From the UC Apiaries" newsletter was a renowned publication which contained valuable information about current events in the beekeeping world which beekeepers needed to know. There is so much more that can be said about Eric and his many contributions to the beekeeping world."
When Mussen was nominated (and received) the 2013-14 Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Extension from the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), MacArthur Genus Awardee Professor Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight University Professor Apiculture/Social Insects at the University of Minnesota, wrote: "Without question, Eric is the No. 1 Extension person dealing with honey bees in the nation, if not the world. Research colleagues, beekeepers and the public are all very lucky to have him.”
Mussen's team of nominators singled him out for his “amazing knowledge of bees, his excellent communication skills in a diverse clientele, including researchers, Extension personnel, legislators, commodity boards, grower organizations, pesticide regulators, students, news media, and beekeeping associations at the national, state and local levels; his eagerness to help everyone, no matter the age or stature or expertise, from an inquiring 4-H'er to a beginning beekeeper to a commercial beekeeper; and his ability to translate complicated research in lay terms.” He presented multiple talks to every beekeeping association in California, and spoke at a variety of events, including pollinator workshops, animal biology classes, UC events, and fairs and festivals.
The nominators lauded him for “his valuable research, which includes papers on antibiotics to control American foulbrood; fungicide toxicity in the almond orchards; the effect of light brown apple moth mating pheromone on honey bees; the effects of high fructose corn syrup and probiotics on bee colonies; and the invasion and behavior of Africanized bees. He was often consulted on colony collapse disorder and bee nutrition.”
Overall, Mussen was known as "a well-respected, well-liked, honest, and unflappable person with a delightful sense of humor."
Valeri Strachan-Severson of Strachan Apiaries, Inc., Yuba City, producer of New World Carniolan queen bees, treasured his advice. "After my dad, Don Strachan, passed away, I made a pest of myself contacting Eric for advice. He never made me feel like I was asking dumb questions and always had the answers. Sometimes he'd say he'll get back to me if he wasn't sure, and he always did. He was an encyclopedia of apiary knowledge. I'll miss him. He was seriously one of a kind."
Mussen was a longtime board member of the California State Beekeepers' Association and a consultant for the Almond Board of California. He co-founded the Western Apicultural Society, serving six terms as president, the last during the 40th anniversary conference at UC Davis in 2017. He also was involved in the formation of the American Association of Professional Apiculturists and held the offices of president or treasurer of that association for many years. He was a scientific advisor to the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center.
Mussen was instrumental in the development of the Almond Board of California's Honey Bee Best Management Practices for Almonds. The Almond Board honored him with a service award, describing him as being an “authoritative and trusted source for guidance on research, technical, and practical problem solving and issues facing both industries.” Shortly after he retired, both the CSBA and WAS created an Eric Mussen Award to present to their outstanding members.
“Eric is a worldwide authority on honey bees, but no problem is too small and no question too involved for him to answer,” said the late Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey prior to Mussen's retirement. “He devotes his research and extension activities to the improvement of honey bee health and honey bee colony management practices. Eric helps growers, consumers, UC Farm Advisors, agricultural commissioners, scientists, beekeepers, researchers, pesticide regulators, 4-H'ers, and state and national agricultural and apicultural organizations. He ignites their interest in maintaining the health of bees, cultivates their friendship, and generously gives of his time and intellect.”
William Hutchison, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Minnesota, who presented him with the 2013 Alexander Hodson Graduate Alumni Award, related at the ceremony that Mussen tackled "many new challenges–mites, diseases, and Africanized honey bees, to name a few–to enhance the pollination success of California's diverse agricultural cropping systems, with considerable emphasis on almonds. In brief, he is in demand, and he continues to be a primary source for objective information on honey bee health and pollination in California."
In his retirement years--in between his family commitments and his hobbies of birding and singing doo-wop with a local group--Mussen not only served as the 2017 president of the Western Apicultural Society but doubled as the program chair at the UC Davis conference. He reviewed funding proposals for Project Apis m., which makes funding decisions and handles the funds for the National Honey Board and other entities; and served on the scientific review panel for the Bee Informed Partnership organization, which reviews funding requests of tech teams. He was a scientific advisor to the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center.
"I am basically all pro-bee,” Mussen told the American Bee Journal in a two-part feature story published in September 2011. “Whatever I can do for bees, I do it...It doesn't matter whether there is one hive in the backyard or 15,000 colonies. Bees are bees and the bees' needs are the bees' needs.”
A Celebration of Life is planned from 4 to 6 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 28 in the Putah Creek Lodge, UC Davis campus. RSVP here. A webinar will be produced by UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal. The link is on the RSVP site.
Seven members of the Senate and seven members of the Federation won awards for their teaching, research or public service. The ceremony took place in the International House.
Provost Mary Croughan, in her welcoming address, praised the 14 recipients for their excellent work, and also thanked the entire faculty workforce for their research, teaching and public service commitments during the two-year pandemic. Richard Tucker, chair of the Academic Senate, presented the Senate's awards and Martin Smith, chair of the Academic Federation, handed out the Federation's awards.
- Professor Diane Ullman, former chair of the Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology) won one of the Academic Senate's three Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Awards. She was nominated by UC Davis Distinguished Professor Jay Rosenheim.
- Professor Joanna Chiu, vice chair of the department, received one of the three Distinguished Teaching Awards, Graduate/Professional category, from the Academic Senate. She was nominated by medical entomologist-geneticist and assistant professor Geoffrey Attardo.
- UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal won the 2022 Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award from the Academic Senate for his series of webinars educating the public about COVID-19. He was nominated by UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Professor Diane Ullman
Professor Ullman, an entomologist and an artist, joined the UC Davis faculty in 1991 after serving as an associate professor of entomology at the University of Hawaii.
Wrote one student: "My experience in her course last spring was one that lifted my spirits, enriched my education and strengthened my love for art and science during a time when it was difficult to feel positive about anything.”
Rosenheim noted that Ullman's commitment to mentorship motivated her to "create a nationwide mentorship program as part of a $3.75 million grant from the USDA, for which she was the lead principal investigator, to give undergraduate students a closely mentored opportunity to conduct individual research projects. This program (Vector Pathogen Educational Network or VPEN) trained 28 postdoctoral researchers and graduate students to be mentors, and then paired each with an undergraduate student researcher mentee."
Rosenheim described the Ullman-created entomology class, ENT 001, "Art, Science and the World of Insects," as "a unique and creative course to bring together art and science. The class includes two hours of lecture each week plus a single three-hour “labudio” – i.e., a combination of a science laboratory and an art studio. The lectures cover the biology and ecology of insects, including their interactions with humans and their importance in human culture."
Undergraduate entomology student Kyle Elshoff, Class of 2024, related that Professor Ullman is "one of the best instructors" he's ever had. "She has a love and passion for both art and science that is infectious and inspires further discussion and exploration by students outside of class."
Ullman received a bachelor of science degree in horticulture from the University of Arizona and her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1985. Her credentials include: chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, 2004-2005; associate dean for undergraduate academic programs for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, 2005 to 2014; and co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, launched in September 2006. A Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2014) and the Entomological Society of America (2011), Ullman was named the 2014 recipient of the ESA National Excellence in Teaching Award.
Professor Joanna Chiu
Nominator Geoffrey Attardo, a co-instructor and a guest lecturer in some of her classes, wrote: "Joanna is skilled at communicating complex/abstract topics. She has a clear and concise manner of delivering information which is essential when dealing with aspects of molecular biology/genetics/biochemistry. This is especially so for students with little to no background in these fields. The nature of these topics requires students to internalize the information and visualize abstract interactions invisible to the naked eye. I have observed (and in fact taken classes myself) where this type of information is presented in a dense and impenetrable lecture format with little to no interaction between the professor and the students."
Graduate students Erin Taylor Kelly, Lindsey Mack, Christine Tabuloc and Yao Cai, and alumnus Kelly Hamby (now an associate professor/Extension specialist, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland) all praised her commitment to students and her ability to stimulate questions and acquire skills.
Wrote Hamby: "Her office is always open to students, whether they are visiting high school students, undergraduates, or graduate students, her own students or someone else's. She carefully guides students throughout their experiments, directly providing technical training—side by side at the bench—while developing their critical thinking and communication skills. Joanna not only imparts excellent analytic and laboratory molecular skills to her students, but also commits to providing ongoing professional advice and development."
Professor Chiu is the co-administrator of the campuswide Research Scholars in Insect Biology, which aims to provide undergraduates with a closely mentored research experience in biology. A 2019-23 Chancellor's Fellow, she received the 2019 Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology Award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. She holds a bachelor's degree in biology and music from Mount Holyoke College, Mass., and a doctorate in molecular genetics from New York University. She served as a postdoctoral fellow in chronobiology--molecular genetics and biochemistry--at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
UC Davis Distinguished Professor Walter Leal
“On March 22 came the first reported death from COVID in Yolo County,” wrote Hammock. “On April 23, Distinguished Professor Walter Leal, as a timely service to the UC Davis community and the general public, organized and moderated the first of his COVID-19 symposiums. What Dr. Leal did, and did so well in the throes of the raging pandemic, was to help the UC Davis community and the general public understand a disease that would go on to claim the lives of nearly 800,000 Americans. Two weeks prior to each symposium, he worked daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., reading the scientific literature, interviewing experts, lining up the speakers; gathering relevant questions from the public, and generally, taking care of all the logistics."
The webinars drew scores of comments. “You are my heroes,” wrote one viewer. “This (the symposium) gave me a sense of hope and calmed my anxiety like nothing else. 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 knowledgeable talk about what is going on and why is so appreciated! I learned so much; wish you were the ones leading [our] government through this! Having a family zoom tonight to relay the info! I (offer) much gratitude to UC Davis! My husband says ditto.”
“Few are aware that Dr. Leal interrupted his sabbatical leave to complete his mission,” Hammock pointed out. “Personally, this was not unusual. Having known Dr. Leal for more than two decades, I am fully aware of how altruistic and dedicated he is. He firmly believes that a primary mission of a land-grant university is to serve the public.”
A native of Brazil and fluent in three languages, Leal was educated in Brazil, Japan and the United States, pursuing the scientific fields of chemical engineering, agricultural chemistry, applied biochemistry, entomology and chemical ecology. After serving in a leadership capacity in Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries for five years, he joined the Department of Entomology faculty in 2000. Leal chaired the department from 2002 to 2013 before accepting an appointment as a professor of biochemistry with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Widely recognized for his research, teaching and mentorships, Leal is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, American Association for the Advancement of Science, California Academy of Sciences, Royal Entomological Society and the Entomological Society of America (ESA). The UC Davis Academic Senate named him the recipient of its 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching, and the Pacific Branch of ESA presented him with its 2020 Award of Excellence in Teaching. Leal was recently selected the 2022 recipient of the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) Faculty Teaching Award. The Leal lab also won the 2020 Lab Safety Award for exceptional safety culture, signed by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May and Eric Kvigne, associate vice chancellor, Safety Services.
Faculty Distinguished Research Award. The Academic Senate's 2022 Faculty Distinguished Research Award went to UC Davis Distinguished Professor Pamela Ronald of the Department of Plant Pathology for her work in infectious disease biology and environmental stress tolerance in plants. "Professor Ronald has made discoveries that have informed our understanding of plant immune systems and have positively affected the lives and livelihoods of millions worldwide," according to a UC Davis Dateline news story. "Her work is highly recognized, having earned several national and international honors. Notably, her studies on rice — particularly on strains resistant to flooding--have helped to identify and develop more robust, tolerant varieties given our changing global climate. Her studies have also explored thenature of disease resistance in specific strains to counter diseases that had previously devastated production. Moreover, Professor Ronald's efforts to educate the public, particularly on the role of biotechnology in agriculture and to address concerns about genetically modified crops, are recommendable."
James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award. Professor and Cooperative Extension Specialist Thomas Harter of the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources won the Academic Federation's highest honor, the James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award, given in recognition of the recipient's record in research, teaching and/or public service.
See UC Davis News website for capsule information on all 14 recipients./span>
Kaloshian will speak on "Root-Knot Nematode Perception and Immune Signaling in Arabidopsis" at a hybrid seminar, both in-person and virtual, at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, June 1 in 122 Briggs Hall. The Zoom link is https://ucdavis.zoom.us/j/99515291076.
Kaloshian will discuss her recent research, "A G-lectin Receptor Kinase is a Negative Regulator of Arabidopsis Immunity Against Root-Knot Nematode Meloidogyne incognita," published in bioRxiv in October 2021. She and her colleagues found that "A plasma membrane localized G-lectin receptor kinase acts as a negative immune regulator by interfering with defense responses activated by nematode and microbial elicitors."
"Root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp., RKN) are responsible for extensive crop losses worldwide," she and her colleagues wrote in their abstract. "For infection, they penetrate plant roots, migrate between plant cells, and establish feeding sites, known as giant cells, in the root pericycle. Previously, we found that nematode perception and early plant responses were similar to those for microbial pathogens and require the BAK1 co-receptor in Arabidopsis thaliana and tomato. To identify additional receptors involved in this process, we implemented a reverse genetic screen for resistance or sensitivity to RKN using Arabidopsis T-DNA alleles of genes encoding transmembrane receptor-like kinases. This screen identified a pair of allelic mutations with enhanced resistance to RKN in a gene we named ENHANCED RESISTANCE TO NEMATODES 1 (ERN1). ERN1 encodes a G-type lectin receptor kinase (G-LecRK) with a single pass transmembrane domain. Further characterization showed that ern1 mutants displayed stronger activation of MAP kinases, elevated levels of the defense marker MYB51, and enhanced H202 accumulation in roots upon RKN elicitor treatments. Elevated MYB51expression and ROS burst were also observed in leaves of ern1 mutants upon flg22 treatment. Complementation of ern1.1 with 35S- or native promotor-driven ERN1 rescued the RKN infection and enhanced defense phenotypes. Taken together, our results indicate that ERN1 is an important negative regulator of immunity."
Kaloshian, who joined the UC Riverside faculty in 1997 and chaired the Department of Nematology from 2017-2021, was named divisional dean on July 1, 2021. During her three-year term, she is overseeing four departments: Botany and Plant Sciences, Entomology, Environmental Sciences, and Nematology.
As a molecular geneticist, Kaloshian studies the interactions between plants and nematodes, and insect pests. Her grants have been funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Science Foundation. She has served as a senior editor of journals in her field of research. (See UC Riverside news story)
Kaloshian is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a recipient of the Syngenta Award for Excellence in Research from the Society of Nematologists. Her other honors include the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement, and the UC Riverside Distinguished Service Award for her development of the COVID-19 campus testing lab.
Kaloshian holds a bachelor of science degree in agricultural engineering and master's degree in plant protection from American University of Beirut. She obtained her doctorate in plant pathology from UC Riverside and completed her postdoctoral training at UC Davis.