Kimsey will be honored at the UC Davis Fall Welcome, set for 9:30 to 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 in the Student Community Center multipurpose room. The annual campuswide awards program, launched in 2015, honors the outstanding faculty advisor, staff advisor, advising administrator, new advisor, peer advisor, campus collaborator and the advising equity champion.
Kimsey, known as "Dr. Bob," earlier received the 2019 Eleanor and Harry Walker Faculty Advising Award from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES).
Kimsey, master advisor for the animal biology (ABI) major since 2010 and an ABI lecturer since 2001, “excels at teaching, advising and mentoring,” wrote nominator Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “He sincerely cares about each student, and incredibly, remembers their conversations and their interests.”
Kimsey is known for expertly guiding students toward career paths, helping them meet challenges and overcome obstacles.
Advising is “about being a good listener, being a source of diverse perspectives to tackle potential problems, being able to put oneself in the other person's place, being broadly experienced and caring about and enjoying other people,” said Kimsey, who also advises the UC Davis Entomology Club.
Kimsey holds two entomology degrees from UC Davis: a bachelor of science degree (1977) and a doctorate (1984). He has served in his current position as an associate adjunct professor and lecturer since 1990.
“I view Dr. Kimsey as the epitome of what a university professor and student advisor should be,” wrote doctoral student Alex Dedmon, who has worked with him for 10 years, first as an undergraduate student in 2009 and now as a doctoral candidate. “Over that time, he has filled many roles in my life and career--a mentor, teacher, advisor, major professor, and friend.”
UC Davis biology lab manager Ivana Li, who holds a bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Davis (2012), wrote: “For myself, and likely for others, Bob has served as a wonderful mentor. He saw things in me that I didn't see in myself. He gave me the confidence to be a leader and I still carry those lessons with me as a lab manager.”
Kimsey continues to draw “best of the best” accolades from students on the Rate My Professors website:
- “Dr. Kimsey is by far one of the best professors at UC Davis. His class never fails to entertain! You do need to put in the work to do well but it is very worth it! Dr. Kimsey truly cares about his students and wants to see them succeed and find a path that best suits them. Strongly recommend!”
- "This was the best class I've taken at UC Davis. You can tell that Dr. Kimsey really cares, and puts a lot of effort into his class.”
Dedmon recalled that in his third year, he enrolled in Kimsey's forensic entomology course. “This turned out to be arguably the most pivotal point in my academic career. Dr. Kimsey is an excellent teacher, and aside from being thoroughly enjoyable, the content of the course itself was comprehensive and enlightening. Dr. Kimsey's instruction was unparalleled, both in the classroom as well as the field part of the course. In the end, I was so enamored with forensic entomology and its presentation, that I decided to make it the focus of my degree.”
“Over this time, I have seen countless undergraduates from his courses come to him for advice, help, or even just someone to talk to. While it is common for advisors to have to listen to the woes of students, it is much rarer to find ones that genuinely care. The proof of his character is in their success – I know many of his former students who have gone on to graduate, veterinary, or medical school. I still find it amazing how these young men and women have gone from scared, tearful students in office hours to successful vets and doctors. After being his student for so long, though, I can easily see why.”
Dedmon praised Kimsey not only his major professor, but as a friend. “When I was diagnosed with cancer, there were countless times he called or visited me at the hospital – this was not just to touch bases about academics, but because he genuinely cared and wanted to help as much as he could. In my most trying times, gestures such as these were absolutely invaluable to me. Even in good times, he is someone I know I can always turn to for advice, a straight answer, or just a good laugh.”
Li wrote that “his dedication to inspiring students for careers in the science, far surpasses the scope of his obligations as an advisor to the Entomology Club or as a faculty member of the department.”
She first met him as an undergraduate student in 2009. “It became apparent that he truly possessed a deep caring for each student that he met. Everyone who knows him affectionately calls him Bob, and I think it is a testament to his determination to tear down the alienating hierarchy of academia and fully integrate students into the UC Davis community.”
“Over the years, I worked with Bob as a member of the Entomology Club,” Li related. “When I became president of the club, I planned many of the club activities with him. He connected us with the National Park Service which helped the club take some truly unique trips. Of these, the one that stands out to me was when we took an overnight trip to Alcatraz. While surveying for rats, we found evidence of beetle damage to the buildings. This led to subsequent trips that involved documenting the full scale of the damage done by beetles, including in many areas normally off-limits to tourists.”
“The hard work he puts into making events happen is infectious,” Li said. “Bob is really the hidden hero of Picnic Day for the Entomology Department. Year after year, he never fails to lug several truckloads of equipment and décor out of storage. Without him, the entomology exhibits at Picnic Day wouldn't be possible. He truly loves educating the public and having students teach people what they have learned. It's a very direct feedback experience that helps students gain confidence that they understand the organisms and scientific processes that they have been learning.”
“In addition to promoting on campus networking, Bob connects students with his many contacts in forensics labs, the National Park Service, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and other organizations,” Li pointed out. “This has led to internships and even full-time employment for some many students over the years.”
UC Davis alumnus Danielle Wishon, who holds a bachelor's degree in entomology (2013), said that Kimsey “continues to be one of my most valuable connections from my time there. I am proud that, even years after my graduation, I can call him a friend.”
Kimsey “introduced us to as many personal and professional contacts as possible,” Wishon said. “This networking has proven invaluable to my and others post-graduate success. I participated in a number of skill-based volunteer work that contributed to my CV and qualified me for a number of job opportunities that I would have otherwise been unqualified for. Working on Alcatraz Island was one of those opportunities."
Wishon recalled “conducting official pest surveys of a number of rodent and arthropod pests, as well as evaluating and documenting pest-related structural damage. We were able to work alongside and learn from a National Park Service professional in charge of the Island. Dr. Kimsey understands the value in developing the practical side of student education and works tirelessly to help us develop that skill set.”
“Another invaluable opportunity for me was interning in his laboratory," Wishon added. "After showing a particular interest in Forensic Entomology, he welcomed me into his lab as a student intern. In this position, I learned colony development and various laboratory skills; I assisted and observed curriculum design and student teaching; and I assisted him in the field on casework. I was able to network with many professionals in my field of interest and was able to get a job soon out of college directly based on the experience I obtained through this internship.”
“Dr. Kimsey has always had an open-door policy with his students,” Wishon said. “Students come to UC Davis from all over the world, with all different backgrounds and upbringings, and come together in a setting that is often stressful and vulnerable. He helps us personally when he can, and knows when and how to get other forms of help to students when needed. In addition to my own experiences seeking his counsel and help through difficult times in my life, both personal and with learning disability struggles, I have personally witnessed Dr. Kimsey aide a number of other students through turbulent times in their lives. academic stress to more serious.”
Graduate student Mark James McLellan of the UC Davis Forensic Science Masters' Program lauded Kimsey for offering him first-hand experience in forensic science. “In addition, he has been instrumental in my research, I had little experience and he has pushed me towards developing a thesis for the program. I am not the only one, there are boatloads of students he has helped and continues to do so! He is a guide and mentor, not only academically but professionally.”
The protein-rich delicacies drew mixed reactions at the “Bugs and Beer” event hosted recently in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre at the University of California, Davis.
“Don't worry—be hoppy,” celebrity bug chef David George Gordon, author of the award-winning “Eat-a-Bug” cookbook, told the budding entomophagists as they eyed the colorful kebobs threaded with grasshoppers and green and red peppers.
Quipped Gordon: “Some people call them 'sheesh-kebobs.'”
Gordon, from Seattle, joined “The Pope of Foam” Charlie Bamforth--the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology--to pair six bug dishes with six different beers. The theme: “Bugs and Beer—Why Crickets and Kölsch Might Be Matches Made in Heaven."
Their quips and puns punctuated the four-hour event. Coordinator Elizabeth Luu, a UC Davis student-employee at RMI who originated the idea of the beer-bug fest, praised the humorous duo as “a match made in heaven.”
Clare Hasler-Lewis, RMI executive director, welcomed the capacity crowd. “Who's going to want to eat bugs--and drink beer with them? I did eat a cricket this morning—without beer—and it was good.”
As it turned out, the beer-bug fest was a kick: “one of the best-ever events we've had at RMI,” said Hasler-Lewis, who said "Let's do this again!" Some participants asked that it be an annual event.
Gordon and Bamforth paired:
- Flavored mealworms with Ruhstaller Gilt Edge Lager
- Wasabi sago worms with Lagunitas Pils
- Baked European house crickets with Sudwerk Hefeweizen
- Cambodian crickets with Gordon Biersch Winterbock
- Ant and pear salad with Sierra Nevada Boomerang IPA
- Teriyaki grasshopper kebobs with Rubicon Angus Scottish Ale
- Cricket flour cookies with Heretic Chocolate Hazelnut Porter
- Chocolate-dipped chapulines (grasshoppers) with Berryessa Whippersnapper English Mild
UC Davis students majoring in food science, brewing science, or entomology prepared the bug dishes, using the chef's bugs and recipes.
"This event was a fun way to introduce a sustainable food supply that is as common in other areas of the world as our hamburger," Wishon said. "While I don't expect the 'cricket burger' to replace hamburger anytime soon, it is important that we start opening our food horizons now before it is no longer a choice. I spent all my time in the kitchen--which is laughable for anyone who knows me--but if anything could make that happen it would be by putting insects in the kitchen with me. This was an experience I will not soon forget! Strangely, my friends and family have declined to let me practice my new cooking skill to make them dinner."
Anne Schellman, manager of the UC Davis California Center for Urban Horticulture who attended with friend Javier Miramontes, a community education specialist for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in Fresno, said her favorites were the European house crickets andgrasshopper kebobs. “They were both chewy but crunchy and had good flavor,” she said.
She wasn't so sure about the Cambodian crickets. “I ate the head and part of the body--after I pulled off the legs and played with the wings,” Schellman said. “It was just too darned big and intimidating to eat it (all).”
“It had an interesting flavor, and the ‘meat' inside actually kind of looked like an artichoke heart in coloring and also texture. Javier ate the cricket whole--I didn't even see him do it he was so fast. A piece of leg got stuck in his throat, and he was trying to keep from gagging, poor guy!”
And they were, Selby confirmed.
Sago worms are the immature larvae of the red palm weevil. “Sago worms eat palm trees, and we can't import sago worms,” Gordon said. “If they got loose in Los Angeles, they would change the identity of the city.”
RMI program representative Evan White, who does design and communications, said he especially loved two dishes: the pear-spinach-ant salad “with the crunchy weaver ants” and the dessert, the chocolate-dipped chapuline grasshoppers. “But then anything with chocolate is delicious,” White said.
White did not eat the Cambodian crickets, which he described as “as big as a small mouse,” and which Bamforth characterized as “a full-flavored meat dish.”
“How many of you ate the full-flavored meat dish?” Bamforth asked after the pairing. “How many of you drank the beer?”
In his talk on "Adventures in Entomophagy: “Waiter, There's No Fly in My Soup!” Gordon said that 80 percent of the world's culture eat bugs and two-thirds of all animal species are insects. "Bug-eating is good for the planet. Bugs are nutritious, delicious, cheap and plentiful.”
“John the Baptist was the most famous bug eater,” Gordon said. “The Bible tells us he ate locusts and honey. Angelina Jolie is the second most famous bug-eater. And I'm third, the godfather of insect cuisine.”
“Whether a country eats bugs has a lot to do with dependence on agriculture,” Gordon said. “Insects are in direct competition with humans for food. But as the human population grows, we can't feed them all (what Americans are accustomed to eating). People are eating hamburgers when they should be eating bugs.”
“In our culture, bugs are often considered a novelty food, such as tequila-flavored lollipops,” the chef told the crowd. However, cricket energy bars "have gone mainstream," and cookies made with cricket flour are becoming more and more popular.
“Insects are the food of the future,” Gordon declared.
He cautioned that all bugs should be cooked, as cooking kills any parasites. Bug chefs must also take special precautions in preparing stinging arthropods.
He paused. “How many of you take calcium pills? If your fingernails keep breaking, eat more crickets. They're rich in calcium. And how many of you are anemic? Termites are rich in iron.”
Food choice is just a matter of what we're accustomed to eating,” Gordon said. He asked how many eat sushi (raw fish), pickled pig's feet, chicken eggs and lobster. “Lobster used to be served to inmates in prison on the East Coast. And talk about the all-time weird food--the chicken egg comes from the butt of a chicken."
You shouldn't eat just any bug, Gordon said “You don't want to eat that cockroach that crawled under your refrigerator or a bug in the field sprayed with pesticides.” He advocates that “you raise your own insects under hygienic conditions or order bugs from supply companies.”
Gordon said it's only right—and it's justice--that we humans eat the pests that eat our food in our garden. Tomato hornworms, for one. One of his recipes calls for tomato green hornworms, with olive oil, green tomatoes, pepper, white cornmeal and basil. Gordon said it's important to be environmentally friendly and not to use pesticides, especially if you're going to eat the pests.
Gordon said the key ingredients in his signature dish, “Orthopteran Orzo” (orzo is a rice-shaped pasta) are three-week old cricket nymphs. Gordon recalled serving the dish at one event and a young boy, a pre-teen, kept returning for more. “Don't they ever feed you at home?” Gordon asked him after the fourth helping. “But this is way better than anything my mom makes,” the boy said.
In his talk titled "Bugs Are No Strangers to Brewers," Bamforth discussed the intricacies of beer brewing and why he paired certain beers with certain bug dishes. He also touched on beer preference: what some people love, others may loathe. Bamforth likened some beers (not served at the event) as reminding him of “cat's breath, newly filled baby diapers, and wet horse blanket with mouse pee.” At one beer tasting, a beer reminded him of “a wet dog urinating in a telephone booth.”
Bamforth said bugs and beer go together in another way, but not a good way. A beer's key ingredient is a grain, and insects may contaminate them. For example, hop aphids may contaminate hops and the saw-toothed beetles, the rice. Grain contamination can also involve such organisms as bacteria, powdery mildew virus and fungi
Some of the entomophagists at the bug-beer fest jokingly inquired if the bugs displayed by the Bohart Museum of Entomology were for eating, as well as for viewing. Arachnids included Tanzanian Giant Whipspider, Costa Rican Red Tarantula and Salmon Pink Bird-Eating Tarantula.
“No, they're not for eating,” said White, holding a millipede as people milled around him talking about Gordon's recipes, including “Superworm Tempura With Plum Dipping Sauce,” “Pest-O,” “Larval Latkes,” “Curried Termite Stew,” “Cream of Katydid Soup,“ and "Ant Jemina's Buckwheat-Bug Griddlecakes.”
In fact, Gordon said millipedes are poisonous and should not be substituted for centipedes in recipes. He writes in his cookbook: "These animals (millipedes) secrete a foul-smelling fluid that, in some species, may contain traces of hydrogen cyanide--not good, unless you're from the Borgia household."
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.
Shades of Dr. Seuss?
No, “Snuggle Bugs” is the theme of the Bohart Museum of Entomology’s open house on Sunday, Jan. 12.
The event, free and open to the public, will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane (formerly California Drive), UC Davis campus.
Visitors can learn about ticks, bed bugs, lice, mites, fleas and mosquitoes--the kind of bugs people don’t want to snuggle with, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
A special attraction will be the bed bug colony being reared by Danielle Wishon, a UC Davis entomology graduate and an affiliate of the Bohart Museum. She began rearing the colony in October 2012.
“Aside from the fact that I find them visually adorable, I am interested in the current public panic over their current increase in population around the United States," she said prior to a "bed bug feeding" at another Bohart open house. "The idea that several little animals will crawl up to you while you sleep and feed on your blood really disturbs most people, despite the fact that they do not transmit any disease."
Wishon, now an employee of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is a past president of the UC Davis Entomology Club and recipient of the department’s 2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award.
"I think the general public would be very interested to see them feeding," she said. "There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet about them, so it would also be a good opportunity for Q and A."
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis and housing nearly eight million specimens, is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
Special attractions at the Bohart include a live "petting zoo," with critters such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, millipedes, tarantulas and praying mantids. Visitors can also shop at the year-around gift shop (or online) for t-shirts, jewelry, insect nets, posters and books, including the newly published children’s book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” written by UC Davis doctoral candidate Fran Keller and illustrated (watercolor and ink) by Laine Bauer, a 2012 graduate of UC Davis. The 35-page book, geared toward kindergarteners through sixth graders, also includes photos by naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart.
Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year. Regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information is available from Tabatha Yang at email@example.com.