A resident of Davis, Judson served as a faculty member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology) for 30 years, from 1961 until his retirement in 1991.
"The Department of Entomology and Nematology lost one of its pillars with the passing of Dr. Judson," said Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the department. "Although the department's national and international reputation is based on the work of current faculty, it cannot be denied the prestige of the department can also be attributed to our retired faculty. It sounds clichéd, but we are standing on the shoulders of giants and Dr. Judson was one of these. Dr. Judson continued to be an active member of the department -- coming regularly to our seminars and participating in social events. Up until a few years ago, he helped teach our core course in Insect Physiology. Charlie Judson's contributions to the science of entomology and to the department will never be forgotten."
Born Oct 21, 1926 in Lodi, Calif., Charles grew up on a ranch in Riverside, where he developed and nurtured his passion for the outdoors, nature, science and animals. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, serving on the USS Wichita.
He received his bachelor of science degree in zoology from UC Santa Barbara in 1950, and his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1954. He and his wife, Marilyn, and family moved to Davis in 1958 when he accepted a position with the California Department of Public Health. He joined the UC Davis faculty in 1961 as an insect physiologist professor. He was a 35-year member of the Entomological Society of America.
“Our family quickly learned not to be afraid of insects, but to respect them in our environment,” recalled Jan. “We don't squish most bugs, but put them outside.”
“Charles enjoyed his work as a researcher and student advisor and often would invite students to his home, maintaining lifelong relationships,” Marilyn said.
Professor Judson launched the career of many PhD students; he inspired them to better understand insect behavior by investigating insect physiological control mechanisms
Emeritus entomology professor Robert Washino, former department chair and former associate dean, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, recalled that “Charles Judson was one of the newcomers who among others--Professors Norman Gary, George McClelland, Donald McLean-- joined the department in the early sixties and introduced greater emphases on physiology and behavior into the teaching and research program that previously stressed taxonomy and regulatory entomology.”
“Charles was one of the first faculty members in the department to be awarded a National Institutes of Health grant for his work on mosquito egg physiology,” Washino said. “I believe Charlie's calm and deliberate manner of successfully carrying out his teaching, research and public service made him a most valuable member of the department. One of Charlie's most productive graduate students, Henry Hagedorn, went on to make major contributions in mosquito reproductive physiology at the University of Arizona at Tucson.”
Many of Professor Judson's colleagues praised him as an excellent scientist and wonderful friend. Said distinguished professor of entomology James R. Carey: "Charlie Judson radiated graciousness, trust and respect, and personified everything good in a university scientist, mentor, and teacher. He not only helped shape our department in its early days, but also set a very high bar for personal decency and professional integrity. Colleagues like Charlie are hard to find, difficult to lose, and impossible to forget."
Albert Grigarick, UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology, said “Charlie was a friend, colleague, and neighbor for nearly 50 years. He was always willing to help you in your academic endeavors or backyard projects. He will be missed by the many students that sought his scientific knowledge and friendly advice.”
Former graduate student Tom Batchelor. who focused his research on the nature of physiological lesions in insects caused by radiation, was Professor Judson's last graduate student. “Gaining control of mosquitoes to reduce their impact on human health has been at the heart of many research programs for decades,” said Batchelor, who now lives in New Zealand. “Professor Judson's research contributed to a better understanding of specific aspects of their feeding and oviposition behavior, and the physiological control mechanisms underpinning this behavior.”
Throughout his academic career, Professor Judson focused his research on the stimuli that caused mosquito eggs to hatch. “Using the eggs of Aedes aegypti and A. nicromaculis, he found that mosquito eggs in water under low oxygen conditions hatched readily,” Batchelor said. “Just the act of decreasing the oxygen concentration, and not just a low oxygen concentration itself, proved to be a powerful hatching stimulus. He also examined the ability of various compounds to penetrate the egg of the mosquito, since mosquito eggs are rather impermeable to water and several chemicals. His research on the ovicidal qualities of these compounds led to further research on better ways to control mosquitoes at the egg stage.”
Another aspect of his research explored the physiological basis underlying a mated female's predisposition to oviposit. Professor Judson showed oviposition was stimulated by a “biochemical signal” emitted by the accessory gland of the male mosquito, Batchelor pointed out. “Virgin females tend to retain their eggs and not oviposit, but they will oviposit if a male accessory gland is implanted into them. Similarly, Professor Judson showed that mosquito biting behavior coincided with the terminal phases of each egg cycle, and that fewer mated females fed at these times than virgin females.”
As an aside, Batchelor said he sometimes saw Professor Judson feeding his laboratory mosquitoes by putting his whole arm in their cage—“when the hamster was having a day off.” Professor Judson commented that feeding the mosquitoes this way was not putting his health at risk, “but rather the health of the mosquitoes exposed to low levels of nicotine and alcohol residues in his blood!” Batchelor recalled.
Entomologist Fran Keller, who served as Professor Judson's teaching assistant for his insect physiology class while working toward her doctorate in entomology, recalled that “Charlie was always happy to see students. At the Department of Entomology's barbecues, I remember how he would make the rounds and make sure he talked with all the students. My interactions with him as a TA for insect physiology were always informative, relaxed and positive. He enjoyed teaching and sharing his knowledge with students. He was a thoughtful, caring and compassionate mentor.”
“Charlie also served on my oral exam committee,” Keller said. “He had a way of confronting you with questions that made you think. As a mentor, that is what you are supposed to do. As a physiologist, he asked me, ‘Why do you want to work so hard on beetles doing a revision when somebody is just going to come along and change it all around in 50 years? You taxonomists always seem to be changing names,' and as a taxonomist I answered, ‘Well, if I do it correctly, then changes will be made when there are new discoveries, so I am providing a foundation for future work.' And he replied, 'Okay that makes sense.' He wanted students to think about their future and what they were doing. To say Charlie was concerned for and kind to his students would be an understatement. I am very saddened by his passing and I will miss his presence as a friend and mentor.”
In addition to his teaching and research, Professor Judson was actively involved in the community, working with Habitat for Humanity, Yolo County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Yolo County Grand Jury, Yolo Family Service Agency, Sierra Club, Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee (STEAC), Senior Learning Unlimited and All Things Right and Relevant.
His other interests included politics, gardening, photography, woodworking and the building of wooden boats. He and his family spent many hours on Loon Lake, the Sierras, in his hand-built vessels, including kayaks, canoes and dinghies. His involvement with the Traditional Small Craft Association, his family said, “led to wonderful friendships, as well as involvement in Seeds of Learning, through which he spent several summers in El Salvador.”
His parents met on the UC Davis campus when both were students at UC Berkeley and were required to spend a year at “The Farm” because of their major. His father help plant the black walnuts on Russell Boulevard.
At his request, no memorial service will be held. The family will gather during the holidays to scatter his ashes in Monterey Dunes, sharing fond memories of beachcombing, digging holes in the sand, and just being together as a close-knit family.
Professor Judson was a strong believer in “walking the walk” by acting on his integrity and beliefs, his family said. In lieu of flowers, he would ask that people “pay it forward” by reaching out to another person or group.
Now, students who enroll in UC Davis biological sciences classes can come face to face with one of them every day.
Keller’s photo of a darkling beetle, Stenomorpha lecontei, graces the cover of the UC Davis edition of Life: The Science of Biology, by David Sadava, David Hillis, H. Craig Heller and May Berenbaum.
Keller captured the image of the beetle laying eggs in a vernal pool at the Carizzo Plain National Monument, San Luis Obispo County, Calif., while it was also eating pygmy weed, Crassula aquatic.
The book, published by Freeman Custom Publishing, New York City, and Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, Mass. is customized for use by UC Davis instructors.
"Beetles are awe inspiring because they are so different,” said Keller, who is completing her requirements this year for a doctorate in entomology this year. She studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology.
“As a human, I and the 7 billion people on the planet are only one species, Homo sapiens," Keller said. "But the insect Order Coleoptera, or beetles, has more than 360,000 species. “Beetles have the greatest diversity of all the insects. Butterflies are big and showy, but beetles can be. too. On a ladybug, which is really a beetle and not a bug, those red and black spotted front wings are called elytra. Beetle elytra are not used for flying so beetles actually fly with one pair of wings. But those elytra help protect them because they can be very tough and sometimes incredibly flashy to warn off predators.”
Keller said that “If you can think of an ecological niche there is probably a beetle there taking advantage of the resources. Believe it or not, there is a beetle that is a parasite and lives in the butt of a beaver. Beetles are truly amazing and although I am partial to the flightless, black tenebrionids, I do collect and appreciate the beauty of all beetles. Okay, maybe I don't collect the beaver butt parasite beetle but wow, who would have thought beetles would be there!”
Keller, who noted that Darwin was an avid beetle collector and enthusiast, acknowledged that she has many "favorite groups of beetles," but "one of my favorites has to be the jewel beetles. Most of them are pests but they are very stunning, hence the name jewel beetle. There are so many different types of beetles that we know of or that have been described but there are still so many that await discovery."
Keller is a researcher, college instructor, mentor, artist, photographer, and author. She recently authored a 35-page children’s book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” available in the the Bohart Museum gift shop and online at http://www.bohartmuseum.com/the-story-of-the-dogface-butterfly.html
The book, being used in kindergarten through sixth-grade classrooms, and in private and public collections throughout the country, tells the untold story of the California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice), and how a classroom successfully mounted a campaign to name it the California state insect. Illustrations by artist Laine Bauer, a UC Davis graduate, and photographs by naturalist Greg Kareofelas, a Bohart Museum volunteer, depict the life cycle of this butterfly and show the host plant, false indigo (Amorpha californica).
Net proceeds from the sale of this book are earmarked for the education, outreach and research programs at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building, Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
Her seminar title is "Taxonomy of Stenomorpha Solier, 1836 (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae: Asidini." Her major professor, Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and UC Davis professor of entomology, will host her.
“My research focuses on a very large genus which historically had 88 species and no modern species level work for several taxa for nearly 175 years,” Keller said. “Part of my research focuses on a group of flightless species restricted to the Sierra Transvolcanica or southern Transverse range in Mexico. Using biogeography, morphological analyses and the examination of over 10,500 specimens, I recognize 51 valid species of Stenomorpha Solier, 1836, with seven newly recognized subgenera, while 37 formerly recognized species are synonymized or newly combined."
One of the species that she studies is Stenomorpha costata, which occurs in Mexico and is flightless.
“Certain Stenomorpha species occur in California vernal pools but are not listed as vernal pool species,” she said. She also will discuss the importance of taxonomy in conservation.
If time allows, Keller will discuss her other projects, working in the Bahamas and mentoring students, as well as her recent research on morphology and developmental patterns of gene expression.
Keller received her associate science degree in biology and chemistry, with highest honors from Sacramento City College in 2001 and then transferred to UC Davis where she received her bachelor’s degree in evolution and ecology (2004), and her master’s degree in entomology (2007). She was selected student commencement speaker at her 2004 graduation.
She served as a teaching assistant for a number of courses at UC Davis and has also presented guest lectures, including “Insect Sex and Mating Systems” and “Insects and the Environment—Ecological Physiology.”
As an outreach education project, she authored a children’s book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” about the California state insect. The book is available at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Among her many awards at UC Davis:
- Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award, May 2008
- Division of Biological Sciences (DBS) Commencement Speaker, June 2004
- DBS Departmental Citation for Outstanding Achievement in Academics and Research in Evolution and Ecology, Spring 2004
- Outstanding Senior 2004
- Undergraduate Research Conference, Oral Presentation, April 2004
- President’s Undergraduate Fellowship, Spring 2003
Keller has given scores of talks at entomological society meetings, including “Richard M. Bohart: One Hundred Years of Entomologists in the Pacific Northwest,” at the March 2007 meeting of the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (ESA). She organized and chaired or co-chaired three section symposia (2006-2008) at the ESA annual meetings. One of these was on “Systematics and Diversity of Coleoptera” at the ESA meeting in 2008 in Reno.
And now, they're big, bold and finely detailed.
Western Hercules beetles are now a part of the Bohart Museum of Entomology's educational and outreach program through a T-shirt design that's drawing raves.
Courtney Lambert, an undergraduate student in entomology at the University of California, Davis who plans a career as a scientific illustrator, drew the Western Hercules beetles after expressing an interest in them during a recent entomology class.
Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum, taught the class and Fran Keller, a doctoral candidate in entomology, served as a teaching assistant.
“Courtney is an incredible artist,” said Fran Keller, who designed the shirt, along with others shirts and posters available at the Bohart.
One of the largest beetles in the western United States, the beetle (Dynastes granti) can measure 3.5 inches long. It is commonly found in parts of Arizona after the monsoons. The beetle is nicknamed “rhinoceros beetle” due to the male's large, fierce-looking thoracic horns. The female of the species has no horns.
Lambert's illustration features both the male and female on a limb.
Keller remembers collecting the beetles in Arizona as an undergraduate. She received a permit from the Arizona Game and Fish Department to do so. “These scarab beetles are truly magnificent,” she said. “They emerge after the monsoon rains and they flock by the hundreds on the streets. They are attracted to lights of businesses.”
“And unfortunately, they are also poached, and illegal collecting has made this and other monsoon emerging beetles, Chrysina sp. for example, rarer every season. It is important for collectors to know the status of an insect before they collect it, and to make sure they have valid collecting permits issued by the state they're collecting in. Hopefully we can educate with this t-shirt about the biggest beetles in the Western U.S.”
American physician-entomologist George Henry Horn (1840) 1897) first described the species in 1870. The blue-gray body has spotted markings. It's also nicknamed Grant's Hercules Beetle, honoring American general and President Ullysses S. Grant (1822-1885).
Funds generated from these beetle T-shirts will help provide continuing undergraduate support and training at the Bohart Museum.
The shirts are available in olive and brown with natural ink; black with white ink, and natural color with black ink.
Founded in 1946, the Bohart Museum is located at 1124 Academic Surge and houses more than seven million insect specimens. The museum, dedicated to teaching, research and service, has the seventh largest insect collection in North America. Contact information: (530) 752-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her enthusiasm for all things entomological, and her desire to share that knowledge with others has led to the highest graduate student teaching award at the University of California, Davis.
Keller, a teaching assistant for four years in an insect physiology class taught by Charles Judson, emeritus professor of entomology, Bruce Hammock and Walter Leal, professors of entomology, received a certificate at a recent ceremony in the Walter A. Buehler Alumni and Visitors' Center—and the congratulations of Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef and Jeffery Gibeling, dean of Graduate Studies.
Judson and Leal praised Keller for her knowledge of entomology, her creativity and responsiveness, and her ability to individualize the content.
“She is dedicated to assisting our students,” Judson said, adding that her “extensive field experience adds an additional dimension to the list of skills she is able to incorporate into her teaching activities.” Keller is also an accomplished artist, illustrator and nature photographer.
Shawn Purnell, one of Keller's students, described her as a “brilliant entomologist, a great teacher assistant, but most importantly to me, she is a friend.”.
“My perception and expectations of teacher assistants were forever raised when I met Fran,” wrote Purnell in a letter of support. He aspires to become a physician.
“Truthfully, the very first time I had lab, I thought Fran was a little crazy. I had never before seen anyone become so enthralled in explaining the differences between male and female flies, especially at 7:30 in the morning. I thought to myself, why would I ever be interested in this and how as this knowledge ever going to benefit me? To my surprise, by the very next lab I found myself blissfully explaining the conditions of Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium to my lab partner. Fran's passion toward her students and enthusiasm for not only zoology, but also all aspects of academia, created an irresistible learning environment.”
Describing Keller as “a very open and amiable person, so eager to share everything that she's learned” and as “an inspirational person,” Purnell wrote that it is “reassuring to know that out of a maze of 30,000 students and faculty at Davis that there are people like Fran who really care.”
Student Robyn Jimenez echoed the praise. “She was one the best TA's at Davis I have ever had….Fran really motivated me to learn the material not just for the exam, but for later use in upcoming classes... Fran was actively engaged with us, asking us if we needed help and always willing to annotate the lessons if we asked.”
Said Leal: “This class is the only undergrad class that requires a 30-minute final oral exam. Fran helps students prepare until 10 p.m. the night before the exam.”
In his nomination letter, Leal wrote that “Fran encourages, inspires, challenges and motivates.” Students find her very helpful and friendly, “which makes it easy to ask questions,” Leal added.
Keller said her teaching philosophy is to reach students in ways that appeal to their different learning styles. “Students learn more and better understand concepts when they know what their learning style is and how they can apply their learning style to the material presented,” said Keller, who describes her teaching method as more facilitator than lecturer.
“Not all students learn in the same way,” she said. “There are global, linear and kinesthetic learners. I believe that illuminating a student's learning style opens the door for thinking critically.”
Keller, who grew up in St. Charles, Mo., but has lived in Davis since 1989, said her “very best teachers would not accept less than what they knew I was capable of doing. They understood my potential and treated me as an individual in a sea of many.”
Scheduled to receive her doctorate in entomology in June 2009, Keller researches tenebrionids or darkling beetles. She studies under major advisor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and chair of the Department of Entomology.
"Fran is one of the most gifted students I've had,” said her major professor, Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and chair of the Department of Entomology. “In addition to her skills as a teacher, she's pursuing a fascinating thesis project on a group of beetles, and has terrific business skills; a unique combination in a graduate student."
Based at the Bohart, Keller also designs museum posters, such as the Butterflies of Central California, Dragonflies of California, California State Insect (California Dogface Butterfly) and Pacific Invasive Ants.
Others receiving outstanding graduate student teaching awards at the ceremony were Cassandra Colleen Brown, anthropology; Benjamin V. Fell, civil and environmental engineering; Laurene Lemaire, French; Christopher Schaberg, Lisa Dawn Sperber and Eric O'Brien, English; Diana Tioleco Webb and Patrick Baxter Dragon, mathematics; Laura Marie Hall, Nutritional Biology Graduate Group; Vannarith Leang, chemical engineering and materials science; Brant Andrew Schumaker, epidemiology; Eva Strawbridge, Applied Mathematics Graduate Group; and Hongtao Xie, biomedical engineering.
The Graduate Council, Office of Graduate Studies and the Teaching Resources Center sponsored the awards.