The annual UC Davis Graduate Research Symposium for the Designated Emphasis in the Biology of Vector-Borne Diseases (DEBVBD) is set for 3 to 8 p.m., Thursday, May 9 in the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center, 530 Alumni Drive.
Coordinator Sharon Lawler, professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, announced that the symposium is open to all interested persons.
The schedule includes
- 3:10 p.m. Opening remarks by coordinator/professor Sharon Lawler of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- 3:15 p.m. Presentation by Steve Lindow, professor of plant pathology, UC Berkeley, on “Detailed Studies of Vectorborne Plant Pathogens Can Lead to Novel Means of Disease Control: the Case of Xylella fastidiosa in Grape and Citrus"
- 4:05 p.m. Graduate Student Poster Session. All DEBVBD students are required to present a poster
- 5:15 p.m. Presentation by Jason Rasgon, professor of entomology and disease epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, on “Endosymbiotic Control of Mosquito-Borne Vruses: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
- 6:05 p.m. Informal, catered dinner (space is limited and reservations are required)
Students presenting their posters will be Sarah Taysir Abusaa, Laura Harlan Backus, Erin Elizabeth Ball, Nicholas Booster, Marisa Anne Pella Donnelly, Anna C Erickson, Jessica Yvette Franco, Karen Marie Holcomb, Erin Taylor Kelly, William Louie, Norma Angelica Ordaz, Risa Raelene Pesapane, Benjamin Thomas Plourde, Maribel Alexandra Portilla, Kasen Kane Riemersma, Pascale Claire Stiles, and Olivia Chase Winokur.
Beverages and snacks will be provided at the symposium. Those interested in attending the dinner must respond by Monday, May 6. Space is limited; first priority will go to members of the DEBVBD, Lawler said. To RSVP, access https://forms.gle/zjTq2DTeahenGeTa6
The event is funded by the Pacific-Southwest Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology, and the Virginia Perry Wilson Endowment.
The annual UC Davis Research Symposium on the Designated Emphasis in the Biology of Vector-Borne Diseases (DEBVPD) will take place from 3 to 8 p.m., Thursday, May 3 in the Putah Creek Lodge, and will feature two speakers and a graduate student poster session.
Addressing the gathering will be Lark Coffey, member of the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and research director Stéphane Blanc of the program, Biology and Genetics of Plant-Pathogen Interactions at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) in Montpellier, France.
The event begins with opening remarks at 3:10, followed by Coffey's presentation at 3:20 on “Contrasting Virulence and Transmissibility in Disparate hosts: A Zika Virus Mutation that Associates with Fetal Death in Rhesus Macaques reduces transmission by Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes.”
The graduate student poster session begins at 4:05 p.m., with Laura Backus, Nicholas Booster, Marisa Donnelly, Jessica Franco, Karen Holcomb, William Louie, Risa Pesapane, Benjamin Plourde, Maribel Portilla, Jennifer Reed, Kasen Riemersma, Pascale Stiles and Olivia Winokur presenting. Blanc's address follows at 5:30 p.m. on "Current Research Trends in the Interaction between Plant Viruses and Insect Vectors."
A dinner (space is limited and reservations are required) will follow at 6:15, announced Professor Sharon Lawler of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and chair of DEBVBD.
Coffey focuses her research on the ecology and evolution of arthropod-borne viruses, including Zika, West Nile and chikungunya. They are significant causes of human disease, with no vaccines or treatments beyond palliative care.
Her team seeks to understand patterns of viral molecular evolution in enzootic and epidemic settings and the viral genetic factors that promote emergence of epidemic variants via host range changes. Studies also focus on how intrahost arboviral genetic diversity generated by error-prone viral replication to produce minority variants influences infectivity and transmissibility in mosquito and vertebrate hosts. The team is also developing approaches to improve arbovirus surveillance.
Coffey received her bachelor's degree in biology at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., and her doctorate in experimental pathology from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. She then conducted research at the Institut Pastuer in Paris, France, and at the University of San Francisco.
Blanc has been with INRA Montpellier since 1997 and with his current research unit since 2004. He studies interactions among viruses, insect vectors and plant hosts. His group works at multiple scales from molecular to viral genetics and population dynamics. In addition, he has an innovative focus on understanding multipartite viruses.
He received his undergraduate degree in biology of populations and organisms from the University of Montpellier. His doctoral research, also at the University of Montpellier, addressed molecular mechanisms of plant virus transmission by insect vectors. After receiving his doctorate in 1993, he studied plant virus vector-transmission at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, with Professor T. P. Pirone.
The Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Department of Plant Pathology are home to the Designated Emphasis in the Biology of Vector-borne Diseases (DEBVBD).
Gilik graduated this year with double degrees--a bachelor's degree in entomology and a bachelor's degree in neurobiology, physiology and behavior--in a five-year program.
“Susan's undergraduate GPA is 3.589,” said Professor Sharon Lawler, who nominated her for the award. “She completed an impressive 231 units, in addition to arriving with 40 Advanced Placement (AP) units.”
Gilik, who grew up in San Diego, traces her interest in entomology to her childhood. “My mom tells me that I have been preoccupied with the little animals since I could walk,” Gilik said. “She said that I would sit and watch the little guys for hours. As I grew, I got into rearing caterpillars. My mother was a hobbyist rose breeder and grew many plants. She was very supportive and when we found caterpillars chomping her plants, she let me keep them and feed them her plants.”
While rearing caterpillars, young Susan marveled over their physiology and development. “From the delicate and difficult task of shedding their skins to the dissolution of their internal workings during metamorphis, it seemed difficult being an insect. Later, when I learned more about evolution and ecology, it started to hit me how important insects are for pollination, in the spread of disease and as food for other animals.”
“I loved the entomology classes here ... there were so many on such varying topics! I really enjoyed that I could learn both about physiology and ecology/evolution of insects. It was great to be taught by professors who had a lot of experience--and fun stories--on the topics they were teaching.”
In addition to her studies, Gilik served as a student firefighter with the UC Davis Fire Department. “During high school I became interested in becoming a firefighter," she said in a quote on the department's website. "I found out about the program after coming to Davis and saw that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “
Her favorite part of the student firefighter program? "I love the camaraderie. Everyone puts in an enormous effort to help each other out.”
This summer Gilik is assisting with the David Rizzo laboratory research in the Sierra Nevada on forest fire effects on plant pathogens--“how native pathogens of conifers are affected by native fire regime,” she said. Rizzo is a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology. His research focuses on the ecology and management of exotic and native forest tree diseases, primarily in California ecosystems.
Her future goals? “I want to try out as many different things as I can before making any decisions and going back to school to start my career.”
In addition, Stephanie Calloway received the 2012 Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Senior in Entomology and Ivana Li won the 2013 Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Senior in Entomology.
Carroll co-authored the 13-page article, “Adaptive Versus Non-Adaptive Phenotypic Plasticity and the Potential for Contemporary Adaptation in New Environments,” published in April 2007 (Volume 21) in the British Ecological Society’s journal, Functional Ecology.
C. K. Ghalambor of Colorado State University served as the lead author. Other researchers contributing, in addition to Carroll, were J. K. McKay of Colorado State University and D. N. Reznick of UC Riverside.
The society, founded in 1913, published the list as part of its 100th anniversary celebrated this year. The work is the only selection in the field of evolutionary ecology. All listings are organized by subdiscipline.
Journal editor/reviewer Fernando Valladares, an ecologist in Madrid, Spain, wrote: “The capacity of organisms to accommodate their form and function to changing environments is called phenotypic plasticity, a concept not well integrated into the Neo-Darwinian synthesis but gaining increasing recognition and interest. Phenotypic plasticity is at the core of rapidly expanding areas such as epigenetics and has become a key concept in understanding species responses to global change. An implicit assumption in many studies is that a plastic phenotypic change is beneficial, i.e. increases fitness of the individual organism capable of such adjustment or change in response to the environment. However, as Ghalambor et al. remind us, plasticity can be not only positive, but neutral and even negative for fitness. The paper makes a sound contribution to the situations where plasticity is adaptive, and revises scenarios where plasticity prevents or allows evolution by directional selection. The explicit recognition of the frequent case that plastic adjustments do not lead to perfectly optimal phenotypes is one of the several merits of this revision, in addition to the brilliant explanation of when plasticity is or can be adaptive. The paper has significant limitations, e.g. in not emphasizing that what is maladaptive today could be adaptive tomorrow, but reading it remains an inspiring experience.”
Based in professor Sharon Lawler’s lab, Carroll directs the Institute for Contemporary Evolution and does research on patterns of ongoing evolution in wild and anthropogenic environments. He is well-known for his studies on evolutionary changes in soapberry bugs in response to plant introductions. He is also an expert on behavioral and evolutionary aspects of adaptation to contemporary environmental change in insects and other organisms.
Carroll is the co-editor of the book, Conservation Biology: Evolution in Action (Oxford University Press, 2008) with Charles Fox, professor of insect genetics, behavior and evolutionary ecology, University of Kentucky.
The British Ecological Society, under the banner of “Advancing Ecology and Making it Count,” publishes and disseminates high-quality ecological research in a variety of different formats, including its five world-renowned journals, two prestigious book series and informative member bulletin.
Provost Ralph Hexter and Richard Engel, executive director of CAAA, presented the award.
Last year Li received the Department of Entomology’s Outstanding Undergraduate Award in Entomology.
Li, who grew up in Monterey Park, near east Los Angeles where she learned to love insects, was nominated for the senior award by Professor Sharon Lawler of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “Ivana Li exemplifies the kind of leader, community organizer and entomology that our department seeks to produce," Lawler wrote. "She has especially excelled in her entomology courses and in leadership. Ivana Li is a true entomology and UC Davis success story.”
“Although initially shy, Ivana took advantage of the welcoming atmosphere here to not only develop intellectually, but to flower as a focal personality in the community of entomology students and faculty. She is a key player in virtually all of the outreach our department offers, from leading the Bohart Museum of Entomology tours for schoolchildren and assisting at open houses to developing and hosting UC Davis Picnic Day displays.”
Lawler also praised Li for installing the “major, eye-catching interpretive display of insects that lines a corridor in our department. It is informative, engaging and of a quality that rivals any professional museum.”
Active in the UC Davis Entomology Club, Li has held most of the offices, including president, and her “efforts have been key in making the club thrive,” Lawler said. The club is a valuable forum for outreach, peer mentoring and marketing, according to club advisor Robert Kimsey, forensic entomologist.
Li helped create an important Entomology Club contract with National Park Survey (NPS) to survey Alcatraz Island for wood-boring beetles. Kimsey has done fly research on Alcatraz for several years.
As an artist, Ivana has combined her research with her humorous side via Bohart Museum of Entomology t-shirts and by participating in a landmark paper, “A Phylogeny and Evolutionary History of the Pokémon,” published in the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) in July 2012. The paper is a humorous take on the evolutionary development and history of the 646 fictional species depicted in the Pokémon media over the last 16 years
Li works at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of nearly eight million insects. The entomology display she created for the Briggs third-floor hallway, was funded by a Bohart Museum grant, and completed within a four-week period. Assisting her from the Bohart were Lynn Kimsey, museum director and professor of entomology; senior museum scientist Steve Heydon; and Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. Yang wrote the grant.
Visitors can see everything from dragonflies, butterflies and honey bees to beetles, flies, ants and other insects.
- Order Lepitopdera, butterflies and moths
- Order Coleoptera, beetles
- Order Hemiptera, true bugs
- Order Hymenoptera, bees, ants and wasps
- Order Diptera, flies, mosquitoes, knats and midges
- Orthopteroid orders, including Mantodea (mantids), Phasmatodea (stick insects) and Blattodea (cockroaches)
- Aquatic insects, including Odonata (dragonflies), Ephemeoptera (mayflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies), Neuroptera (lacewings and antlions), and Trichoptera (caddisflies)
- Phylum Arthopodea, the largest animal phylum, which includes insects, spiders and crustaceans.
Her future plans include enrolling in graduate school.