The UC Davis recipients, as announced today:
Molecular geneticist/physiologist Joanna Chiu, vice chair of the department, associate professor and Chancellor's Fellow, won the Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology Award. The annual award is presented to an individual who has an outstanding record of accomplishment in at least one of the entomological sub-disciplines of physiology, biochemistry, and toxicology.
Pollination ecologist Neal Williams, professor, won the Plant-Insect Ecosystems Award. The annual award is given to an individual with outstanding accomplishments in the study of insect interrelationships with plants.
Doctoral candidate and ant specialist Brendon Boudinot who studies with Professor Phil Ward, won the 2019 John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award, the top graduate student award. This award is based on academic record, leadership, public service activities, participation in professional activities, and publications.
They will be honored at PBESA's 103rd annual meeting, to take place March 31 - April 3 in San Diego, California.
The University of California accounted for eight of the 12 PBESA awards, with UC Davis winning four, UC Riverside, three, and the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), one.
Joanna Chiu, Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology Award
"Dr. Chiu not only excels in unique and cutting-edge research, both basic and applied, but has distinguished herself in mentoring, teaching and service contributions,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who nominated her for the award.
She studies how genes and proteins regulate animal physiology and behavior in response to changes in environment and resources. Her research involves molecular genetics of animal behavior, circadian rhythm biology, and posttranslational regulation of proteins. Major grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation fund her research.
Chiu investigates the regulation of animal circadian rhythms in her laboratory by using a combination of molecular genetics, biochemical, genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic approaches. Her overall research goal: to dissect the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control the circadian clock in animals, and to investigate how this endogenous timer interacts with the environment and cellular metabolism to drive rhythms of physiology and behavior.
Neal Williams, Plant-Insect Ecosystems Award
"Dr. Williams is widely known and respected for his excellence in research, extension, outreach, teaching, leadership and mentoring," said Nadler. “He is a leading voice in the development of collaborative research on insect ecology. He has organized national and international conferences, leads scores of working groups, and guides reviews of impacts of land use and other global change drivers on insects and the services they provide.”
Williams focuses his research on the ecology and evolution of bees and other pollinator insects and their interactions with flowering plants. His work is particularly timely given concern over the global decline in bees and other pollinators.
In July, Williams will co-chair the Fourth International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy at UC Davis. The four-day conference, themed “Multidimensional Solutions to Current and Future Threats to Pollinator Health,” will highlight recent research advances in the biology and health of pollinators, and link to policy implications.
Brendon Boudinot, John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award
Brendon Boudinot was praised for his academic record, leadership, public service activities, participation in professional activities, and his publications. “A highly respected scientist, teacher and leader with a keen intellect, unbridled enthusiasm, and an incredible penchant for public service, Brendon maintains a 4.00 grade point average; has published 12 outstanding publications on insect systematics (some are landmarks or ground-breaking publications); and engages in exceptional academic, student and professional activities,” Nadler wrote.
Active in PBESA and ESA, Boudinot received multiple “President's Prize” awards for his research presentations at national ESA meetings. He organized the ESA symposium, “Evolutionary and Phylogenetic Morphology,” at the 2018 meeting in Vancouver, B.C. , and delivered a presentation on “Male Ants: Past, Present and Prospects” at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Boudinot served on—and anchored—three of the UC Davis Linnaean Games teams that won national or international ESA championships. The Linnaean Games are a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams.
Boudinot has served as president of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association since 2006, and is active in the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day; he has co-chaired the department's Picnic Day Committee since 2017.
Jessica Gillung, Early Career Award
Jessica Gillung studied for her doctorate with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology. “Dr. Gillung has made outstanding contributions to entomology, shown commitment to extension or outreach, and excelled in entomological education,” Kimsey wrote in her letter of nomination. “In one word: she is ‘phenomenal.' Gillung most recently won the “Best Student Presentation Award” at the ninth annual International Congress of Dipterology, held in Windhoek, Namibia, and the 2018 PBESA Student Leadership Award. Her dissertation was titled: “Systematics and Phylogenomics of Spider Flies (Diptera, Acroceridae).”
Kimsey praised her phenomenal leadership activities, her nearly straight-A academic record (3.91 grade point average), her excellence as an entomologist and teacher, and her incredible publication record. “Note that she has 11 refereed publications on her thesis organisms in very strong journals,” Kimsey wrote. “Most entomologists do not publish nearly that much, even as a postdoctoral scholar or a junior faculty member!”
As a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University in the Bryan Danforth lab, Gillung is researching Apoidea (stinging wasps and bees) phylogenomics, evolution and diversification.
PBESA Award Recipients
The complete list of PBESA recipients:
- CW Woodworth: Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Riverside.
- PBESA Award for Excellence in Teaching: Allan Felsot, Washington State University
- PBESA Award for Excellence in Extension: Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension
- PBESA Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management: Silvia Rondon, Oregon State University
- PBESA Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity Award: Christiane Weirauch, UC Riverside
- PBESA Physiology, Biochemistry, and Toxicology Award: Joanna Chiu, UC Davis
- PBESA Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology Award: Rebecca Maguire, Washington State University
- PBESA Plant-Insect Ecosystems Award: Neal Williams, UC Davis
- PBESA Distinction in Student Mentoring Award: Gerhard Gries, Simon Frazier University, British Columbia
- PBESA Excellence in Early Career Award: Jessica Gillung, UC Davis
- John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award: Brendon Boudinot, UC Davis
- PBESA Student Leadership Award: Kelsey McCalla, UC Riverside
PBESA is one of six branches of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Founded in 1889, ESA is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and individuals in related disciplines. It is comprised of more than 7000 members, who are affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, pest management professionals, and hobbyists.
This makes the third year that a UC Davis-based team has won the national championship.
"In the final, UC defeated Texas A&M (graduate students), 140-20," said Joe Rominiecki, manager of communications for the Entomological Society of America (ESA). "UC defeated the University of Florida 110-100 in the semifinal round. In the preliminary round, UC defeated the Texas A&M undergrad team."
The Linnaean Games, launched in 1983, are lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competitions on entomological facts and played by winners of the ESA branch competitions. The teams score points by correctly answering random questions.
"Before us, there was a sudden death double overtime game (Texas A&M grads vs University of Delaware) which was really exciting," Boudinot said.
Griebenow recalled that among the questions the UC team correctly answered in the championship round:
Question: The Passandridae are a family of beetles. What is unusual about their larvae?
Answer: The larvae are ectoparasitoids of wood-boring insects.
Each ESA branch hosts a Linnaean game competition at its annual meeting. The winning team and the runner-up both advance to the national competition. The national preliminaries took place Sunday, Nov. 11 while the finals got underway at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
Members of the winning team will each receive a gold medal and and a plaque for the team's department.
To get to the national finals, the UC team won the regional championship hosted by the Pacific Branch of ESA at its meeting June 10-13 in Reno. They defeated Washington State University in a sudden death overtime to win the title.
But have you ever heard of a song featuring the three-cornered alfalfa hopper, Spissistilus festinus, and another one spotlighting the male insect organ, the aedeagus?
And composed by a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, and performed by seven insect-attired UC Davis doctoral students?
That's what happened during the recent UC Davis Picnic Day celebration when the septet gathered in front of Briggs Hall to perform three songs composed by talented musician and entomologist Michael Bollinger, enrolled in the master's degree program, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The group performed Bollinger's compositions, “E Major Homeboy (Spissistilus festinus),” “Tragedy (of the Clocks)," and "Jackson's Song (Aedeagal Bits)," as well as a cover song, “Island in the Sun” by Weezer.
The performance went well. Very well. So did Picnic Day.
“My goal was to make sure Picnic Day worked overall, and that, for the band, the sounds were balanced and each of the elements could be heard,” said emcee and band member Brendon Boudinot, president of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) and a doctoral candidate specializing in ant evolution and classification.
The “Entomology at UC Davis” exhibit at Briggs Hall, the work of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won the campuswide “At One With Nature” category. And the band? It drew loud applause and high praise from the standing crowd.
Their name: “The Entomology Band.” (No take-offs of the iconic “Beatles,” “Buddy Holly and the Crickets” or “Adam and the Ants.”)
Bollinger's original songs capped a day of insect-related activities that included maggot art, cockroach races, nematode identification, scavenger hunts, and honey tasting.
- Molecular geneticist and drummer Yao “Fruit Fly” Cai of the Joanna Chiu lab, dressed in a fruit fly costume, Drosophila melanogaster, which he described as “our favorite model organism in Insecta!”
- Bark beetle specialist and rhythm guitarist Jackson “Darth Beetle” Audley of the Steve Seybold lab, portrayed an Asian longhorned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis
- Honey bee researcher and bass guitarist Wei “Silverfish” Lin of the Brian Johnson lab, wore a costume that celebrated his moniker, Lepisma saccharina, a small, wingless insect in the order Zygentoma
- Ant specialist and keyboard artist Zachary “Leptanilla” Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab, dressed as “a generic male leptanilline ant (Formicidae: Leptanillinae).” He said: “The yellow color “is not anywhere near so vivid in real life.”
- Systematist and tenor saxophonist Jill “Jillus Saximus” Oberski of the Phil Ward lab, dressed as a “generalized heteropteran,” which she described as “most likely a member of the family Acanthosomatidae (shield bug) or Pentatomidae (stink bug). My family and friends have called me Jillybug, so I came to be the band's representative of Hemiptera.”
- Molecular geneticist and vocalist Christine “The Clock” Tabuloc of the Joanna Chiu lab, wrapped herself in butterfly wings
- Ant specialist and bass guitarist Brendon “Hype Man-tis” Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab, dressed in a green helmet, a blue and gold EGSA bee shirt and a UC Davis cow costume to showcase his department and campus-wide love of bovines.
The seven band members share a love of music.
Drummer Yao Cai, who grew up in Southeast China and holds an undergraduate degree in plant protection and a master's degree from China Agricultural University, has been playing drums since age 17. “We formed as a short-lived band for a show. After that, I realized that I really wanted to keep playing and improved my drum techniques. Thus, we started another band in college and played for six years in college, as an undergrad and graduate student.
“It is very interesting that I was in a band that was the first band in Department of Entomology in China Agricultural University and now we started the first band in Department of Entomology at UC Davis.”
Rhythm guitarist Jackson Audley said he “started learning to play the guitar when I was about 11-12 ish. The first band I joined was a Blink-182 cover band, in which I played the bass guitar, and we played together for most of eighth grade. Then in early high school I joined a Smashing Pumpkins/Radiohead cover band as the second guitarist. Shortly after joining that band, we started making predominantly original music. By the end of high school, we had played a few small shows around the Atlanta area and had recorded a few songs. Unfortunately, the band did not survive the transition into university and we broke up.”
Since then he's mostly played “for fun and I like to jam with folks.”
Jill Oberski, a native of Twin Cities, grew up mostly in Chaska, Minn., “a sleepy suburb of Minnesota.” She received her bachelor's degree in Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., where she double-majored in biology and German studies.
“I started playing the piano in kindergarten, and switched to saxophone in fifth grade,” Oberski related. “I played classical and jazz in my school bands from sixth grade through college, and pit orchestra / pep band / marching band in high school as well. I've always been better at classical than rock/jazz/Latin.”
“I probably reached my highest point in late high school, when I served as co-section leader for the saxes in the Minnesota all-state symphonic band--we even got to play a concert in Minneapolis' orchestra hall. These days I'm only involved in the entomology band and some very casual ukulele playing.”
Brendon Boudinot, who received his bachelor's degree in entomology at the Evergreen State College, Olympia, Wash., performed on a metallic sky-blue bass. “I just love art,” he said. “Music is a family thing for me in a number of different ways. Although I have played instruments alone or in groups for many years, nothing really clicked in me until I heard Michael and Yao play together. They shred.”
“The Entomology Band is special to me, and I am just glad I could be a part of it.”
Vocalist Christine Anne Tabuloc, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and received her bachelor's degree from UC Davis in biochemistry and molecular biology, says she does not play an instrument. “I'm far less talented than everyone else in the group,” she quipped. “I've been singing for as long as I can remember. I've been writing lyrics since elementary school. However, I never got around to getting music written for them. I was in choir before and have had solos but that's pretty much it.”
Bass guitarist Wei Lin, who grew up in Xiamen, "a beautiful island in southern China," received his bachelor's and master's degree in China Agricultural University, majoring in plant protection and entomology. “This was my first experience in a band. I just started to learn bass last year when this band was built.”
Following the four-set gig, Boudinot told the appreciative crowd, “That's all we know!”
Pending performances? “The band,” he said, “is on hiatus.”
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology won two of the six special exhibit awards given at the 104th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, held April 21.
“Entomology at UC Davis (122 Briggs Hall) swept the category, “One with Nature,” while the Bohart Museum of Entomology won the wildcard award with its “Hidden Insects: Where the Sun DOESN'T Shine.”
The Picnic Day, themed, “Where the Sun Shines,” encompassed more than 200 exhibits or events throughout the campus. Popular vote determined the award recipients.
Other winners were:
Hunger Fix category: “Cool Science of Ice Cream” in the Mondavi Institute South Building Courtyard, where visitors could learn about and taste ice cream made by the UC Davis Pilot Plant
Earth and Engineering category: “Flight Simulator and Aerospace Displays”, the work of the Center for Human/Robotics/Vehicle Integration and Performance and held in in Academic Surge Building 1113
Taking Center Stage category: “Lord of the Strings,” physics demonstrations in Roessler Hall 66
Arts and Humanities category: “Musical Expedition” featuring the joy of music and hands-on experiences with musical instruments and jam sessions at a site outside the Music Building.
Coordinating the events at Briggs Hall were forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and doctoral candidate Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab and president of the Entomology Graduate Students' Association. Heading the activities at the Bohart Museum were director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, and Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
Activities within 122 Briggs Hall included Virtual Reality Bugs by UC Davis medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo; the Dr. Death (forensic) table featuring forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey; entomological forestry displays, medical entomology displays showcasing different species of mosquitoes; ant displays from the Phil Ward lab; a honey bee display providing comparisons of meals with and without the aid of pollinators and tools of the trade, including beekeeping supplies; and nine spectacular or “oh, my” drawers of insect specimens, primarily bees, beetles, butterflies. from the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Other activities at Briggs Hall, either inside the atrium, in an adjoining room, or fronting the building, included maggot art, cockroach races, honey tasting, Bug Doctor booth, Integrated Pest Management table, Sacramento Yolo-Mosquito and Vector Control district booth, Davis Fly Fishers, scavenger hunt, insect face painting, t-shirt sales and a bake sale.
The Entomology Graduate Students' Association organized and ran most of the displays, while undergraduates in the UC Davis Entomology Club staffed their own displays (sold mantises, carnivorous plants, mealworm cookies) and did face paintings, Boudinot said. Students, faculty, and staff participated.
A performance by the Entomology Band, with three original tunes composed by Michael Bollinger of the Frank Zalom lab, ended the daylong activities at Briggs. The band included Jackson Audley of the Steve Seybold lab, rhythm guitar; Wei Lin of the Brian Johnson lab, bass guitar; Yao Cai, drums and Christine Tabuloc, vocals, both of the Joanna Chiu lab; and Zachary keyboards; Jill Oberski; tenor saxophone; and Brendon Boudinot, bass guitar, all of the Phil Ward lab. Dressed in insect costumes, they performed four tunes
For its open house offerings, "Where the Sun DOESN'T Shine," The Bohart Museum highlighted nocturnal insects, cave dwelling insects, and beaver butt beetles or Platypsyllus castoris, an ectoparasite on beavers. Visitors also held live tarantulas, with entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the butterfly and moth section, engaging the crowd and supervising the activity. The Bohart, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, houses some 8 million insect specimens, plus a live “petting zoo” and a year-around gift shop.
Doctoral candidate and nematologist Corwin Parker of the Steve Nadler lab won the Picnic Day design with his illustration of a bee barbecuing.
And an ant design for a onesie, “My Sister Loves Me,” by doctoral student and ant specialist Jill Oberski of the Ward lab rounds out the winners' circle.
Boudinot, a fourth-year doctoral student and president of EGSA, said the ant featured on his design “is a minor worker of the Drogon ant and described recently by our post-doc Eli Sarnat." Sarnat, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 2009, is now a post-doctorate researcher in the Okinawa Instituite of Science and Technology in the Economo lab. The ant in Boudinot's design is based on Sarnat's work, published in AntWiki and in The Guardian.
Oberski's adult ant is “loosely based on Ochetellus, a mostly-Australian genus.” After admiring an image taken by Alex Wild, also a Phil Ward lab alumnus (doctorate in entomology in 2005) and “I went from there.” Wild, a renowned macro photographer, is the curator of Entomology at the University of Texas/Austin.
The winning T-shirts and other previous winners can be ordered online at https://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad/ and also will be available at Briggs Hall on April 21 at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day and future Picnic Days. Doctoral student and medical entomologist Olivia Winokur of the Chris Barker lab, serves as treasurer of EGSA and t-shirt sales coordinator. She may be reached for more information at email@example.com.
The EGSA is comprised of UC Davis graduate students who study insect systems. Its objectives are to connect students from across disciplines, inform students of and provide opportunities for academic success, and to serve as a bridge between the students and administration. The officers, in addition to Brendon Boudinot, are Emily Bick of the Christian Nansen lab, vice president; Maureen Page of the Neal Williams lab, secretary; Olivia Winokur of the Chris Barker lab, treasurer; and two Graduate Student Association representatives, Charlotte Herbert of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and Nick Booster of the Jay Rosenheim lab.