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>
Professor Joanna Chiu, vice chair of the department, was singled out for her outstanding graduate and professional mentoring, and Professor Diane Ullman, former chair of the department, for her stellar undergraduate teaching.
The Academic Senate minutes state:
"Professor Joanna Chiu is known for her ability to help students visualize and internalize abstract interactions that are invisible to the naked eye. Students and colleagues praise her desire to demystify pathways to success in science. She's admired for her compassion and dedication to students at all levels, whether they are visiting high school students, undergraduates, or graduate students. Her graduate students have landed jobs in academia, industry, and medicine, and they seek her counsel well into their professional lives. Professor Chiu has also created training programs and financial awards to increase diversity and inclusivity in her field."
"Professor Diane Ullman has provided superb teaching and mentoring for many years, not only in the Department of Entomology and Nematology but as a leader in the Science and Society program. She has brought art-science fusion alive in innovative ways. Her nominees and students rave about her deep dedication, care, and knowledge in all teaching interactions, as well as her overall commitment to student success. One student nominee summed it up best: "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.”
The award packets called for a nomination letter, letters of support from students, curriculum vitae (including publications, research grants, and honors and awards), teaching activities, and student evaluations.
Chiu, a molecular geneticist and physiologist, joined the department in 2010 and has served as the vice chair of the department since 2016. She was nominated by medical entomologist-geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, assistant professor.
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."
Complex Subject Matter. Commenting on analysis of genomic variation, Attardo wrote: "The class covered the basics of genetic variation, techniques used to characterize/analyze this type of data and ways in which this data can be applied to applications such as taxonomy, evolutionary biology, and population dynamics. Joanna presented this complex subject matter in a stepwise manner using clear visual aids with each step being reinforced by real world examples from the literature. She further engaged the students with queries to interpret examples, ask questions and explore their understanding of the material to that point. Her strategy of presenting this information in small chunks followed by time for thought and personal interpretation is an excellent way to introduce these topics and give the students time to process/wrestle with the information internally before moving onto the next concept. I sat in on this session as this topic is somewhat of a weak spot for me and I found it extremely informative and enjoyable."
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) strongly supported the nomination.
"I consider Dr. Chiu's teaching and mentorship approach to be a model that I seek to emulate. Her lectures are famously clear and organized; I find myself returning to them long after classes are over for topic refreshers," Kelly wrote in part.
Encourages Us to Think Deeply. Mack praised her commitment to her students and her ability to relate course content to current research. "She encourages us to think deeply about course material to stimulate questions and acquire skills."
"What makes her so outstanding is her commitment to helping us improve as scientists and researchers and preparing us for our future career endeavors," wrote Tabuloc. "She advises me on how to be a more resilient scientist and gives me the opportunity to do outreach events where I talk about my science with the general public, teach workshops about writing in the sciences and the circadian clock, present my work at conferences, and attend workshops that increase my skillset. I have learned how to make the subject interesting to the audience and easy to understand."
"There is no final exam in the class," Cai related. "As a substitute, students are asked to write a two-page National Science Foundation research proposal and peer-review others' proposals. She encourages students to think actively, instead of just memorizing facts for the exams. Dr. Chiu knows what skills are the most critical in a certain stage of PhD training…critical thinking, scientific reading, scientific writing, presentation, time management, scientific rigor."
Office Always Open. 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."
The students also lauded her commitment to improving diversity in the department and supporting stipend raises.
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.
Professor Ullman, both an entomologist and an artist, received her bachelor of science degree in horticulture from the University of Arizona and her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1985. She joined the UC Davis faculty in 1991 after serving as an associate professor of entomology at the University of Hawaii. 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.
International Acclaim. UC Davis Distinguished Professor Jay Rosenheim, a fellow faculty member since 1994--and who has known Ullman since she was a doctoral student--wrote the letter of nomination. "I have seen in Diane the rare academic who places co-equal emphasis on her research program, which has given her international acclaim, and her teaching and mentorship. Diane cares for every student who comes into her classes and her laboratory, takes them under her wing, and helps them thrive. She cares deeply about the well-being of everyone she mentors, and it shows in everything she does."
Rosenheim noted that her 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 praised her entomology class, ENT 001, "Art, Science and the World of Insects," which he described as "a unique and creative course, created by Diane, 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."
Creative and Effective Approach. "Her commitment to student success has motivated her since she joined our campus, and she has taken a creative and effective approach to teaching and mentorship that has magnified her impact beyond her own immediate students and mentee," Rosenheim noted. "She has trained graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to be more effective mentors themselves, and the success of VPEN and the Career Discovery Groups (an undergraduate mentoring program founded by Ullman with David Rizzo) will ensure that these efforts continue to bear fruit well into the future."
In a letter of support, undergraduate entomology student Kyle Elshoff, Class of 2024, described Professor Ullman as "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."
Professor Ullman is committed to "helping us succeed," Elshoff related, "especially with the challenges presented by remote learning during a pandemic. For instance, despite being unable to work with us in-person to create art in the wonderfully named 'Labudio,' she still ensured that every student would be able to exercise their creativity and create a meaningful final artwork. She prepared and shipped each of us a box of watercolor supplies to use and keep, and she recorded watercolor video tutorials with a local artist so that we could familiarize ourselves with basic principles and techniques. I felt supported by these kind actions; it was reassuring to know that I had a professor who cared about me and who, right from the outset, was willing to go the extra mile for her students."
Elshoff concluded: "My experience in her ENT 001 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. More than just a professor, Dr. Ullman is someone who I feel comfortable reaching out to for advice and guidance as I move forward with entomology and art."
Wilson, recognized as one of the world's most influential scientists, was known as “The Ant Man,” "The Father of Sociobiology," "The Father of Diversity" and “The Modern-Day Darwin," for his pioneering and trailblazing work that drew global admiration and won scores of scientific awards.
But among his peers, colleagues and mentees, he was known as "Ed."
Wilson's work, On Human Nature, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979. He won a second Pulitzer in 1991 with The Ants, co-authored with colleague Bert Hölldobler. In 1990, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded Wilson the Crafoord Prize in biosciences, the highest scientific award in the field. In 1996, Time magazine named him one of America's 25 most influential people. In 1977 President Jimmy Carter awarded him the National Medal of Science for his contributions toward the advancement of knowledge in biology.
Wilson, according to reports, always considered himself an Alabaman who went to Harvard, rather than a Harvard professor born in Alabama. Born June 10, 1929 in Birmingham, Ed graduated from the University of Alabama in 1949 with two degrees in biology, and received his doctorate in biology from Harvard in 1955. He joined the Harvard faculty in 1956. Although officially retiring in 1996, he remained active as an emeritus professor and honorary curator until his death.
Some tributes from UC Davis faculty and students:
“E. O. Wilson was a towering figure in the study of social insects, in evolutionary biology, and in conservation biology,” said fellow ant specialist and professor Phil Ward of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology who organized the 2007 E.O. Wilson Festschrift (a collection of writings published in honor of a scholar). “He made important contributions in all of these areas, but his specialty was the study of ants, those ‘little creatures that run the world.' Wilson's book, The Insect Societies (1971), introduced its readers to the fascinating world of ants and other social insects, using language that was both engaging and accessible, yet highly informative.”
“This was followed two decades later by the equally magisterial The Ants, co-authored with Bert Hölldobler,” Ward noted. “These landmark contributions inspired many budding biologists, myself included, to devote ourselves to the study of ants and other social organisms. Equally important, Wilson argued passionately and compellingly for the conservation of biological diversity in a dwindling natural world. He once said that 'destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.' Let us honor his legacy by heeding this message!”
UC Davis doctoral alumnus Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab and now a postdoctoral researcher in Germany at the Institute of Zoology and Evolutionary Research, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, says the ant world is reeling with Wilson's passing. “A big chunk of my dissertation was dedicated to testing his hypotheses for the origin and early evolution of ants!”
Boudinot met Wilson when he was visiting the Ant Room at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in 2013. “The work I was doing was the foundation for my studies on ant males, and I was near the end of the trip, at one of the many microscopes by the window facing the yard,” he said. “Ed surprised me by coming right up to my shoulder at the scope; he asked me what I was working on. I am a bit abashed to say that I couldn't say anything because my mind went blank! Stef Cover, the pins-and-points curator told Ed what I was doing, and for the life of me I will always remember what Wilson said. He was happy that I chose to work on male ants, when this sex has been actively ignored by researchers over the past centuries, and that he himself was more apt to squash one at a light trap than to collect one. I hope that my keys and diagnoses have helped people appreciate male ants.”
“I am so thankful that I met him,” Boudinot said, “and that I was able to work with so many people in his sphere. The ant world is reeling, as he was a gentle giant of myrmecology, and of course biology writ large.”
Doctoral candidate Jill Oberski of the Phil Ward lab met “The Ant Man” in 2019. “I got to meet E. O. Wilson when I traveled to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in 2019. In addition to myself, there were several other researchers visiting the “Ant Room,” which houses a huge number of type specimens.”
“He asked me about my research on Dorymyrmex taxonomy and biogeography, although as a second-year PhD student I didn't have much to report yet. He was genuinely interested in my work and excited that I was working to resolve Dorymyrmex--which has always been a taxonomic headache. He also told me he recalled watching ants forming cone-shaped nests as a child in Alabama, which could only have been Dorymyrmex. He was exceedingly kind and encouraging.
“Finally, the Ant Room staff and visitors ate lunch together in Ed's office—lobster sandwiches, diet Dr. Pepper, and coffee, as is customary.”
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, remembers working near his office when she served as a visiting professor/lecturer (1987 to 1989) at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, before joining the UC Davis faculty in 1989.
“His office was just down the hall from mine when I taught at Harvard. Here he was, one of the most famous biologists of his generation and I would see him sit down on the sidewalk to show a little kid the ants there. Also, saw him in the sitting on a bench Burlington Mall while his wife shopped, writing on a yellow pad of paper. Totally focused on what he was writing with shopping pandemonium all around. He was brilliant, humble and engaging.”
UC Davis doctoral alumnus Fran Keller, a professor at Folsom Lake College, and a research scientist at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, helped honor his work at a special symposium hosted at the 2005 Entomological Society of America meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"Our department of entomology helped fund my trip to Harvard,” she recalled, “and he agreed to meet me over the course of two days in May 2005. The ESA symposium took place in mid-December. I recorded our interview on a cassette tape,” she said, adding she hopes to publish it in a journal.
Wilson responded: “Everyone has an animal that reaches them or that they connect with at some level, even though you were born an entomologist, perhaps yours is the rhino.”
“After my interview with Ed, I bought the book in the MCZ, The Rarest of the Rare: Stories Behind the Treasues at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. In that book, it highlights the extinct and rare species held in the MCZ collections. One of those specimens is the last Xerces butterfly, which was caught by Harry Lange (UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology). Harry's quote in that book, ‘I didn't know it was the last one, I thought there would be more' and then my time eating lunch and then wandering the MCZ collection and chatting with Ed inspired me to create the Xerces t-shirt for the Bohart Museum of Entomology.”
One of Keller's mentors, Tom Schoener, studied with Wilson. “I worked on plant ecology and island biogeography for my undergrad research (Sacramento City College)," she said, "and continued that for awhile in grad school (UC Davis). Ed Wilson was one of the founders of island biogeography.”
As a undergraduate at Sacramento City College, Keller was part of a field trip to hear Wilson speak at his 2002 book tour on The Future of Life.
UC Davis doctoral alumnus Alex Wild, an evolutionary biologist, science photographer and curator of entomology at the University of Texas, Austin, wrote this on his Twitter account, @Myrmecos, which has more than 30,000 followers: “Ed Wilson was one of my science heroes. Over the years I came to admire two things in particular. One was his ability to craft technical books so compelling as to launch scores of scientific careers in their wake.”
“The other thing is how Ed Wilson handled professional disagreement," Wild tweeted. "And he had a lot of those, because Wilson was frequently wrong. About a great range of topics. For a guy known for ant research, his interpretation of ant origins was just… silly.”
"But he continued to support, both financially and professionally, the young upstarts who, over and over, proved him wrong. That's a rare trait for a field as ego-driven as evolutionary biology.”
When a follower asked: “Can you explain to a non-biologist bug enthusiast why his interpretation of ant origins was silly?”, Wild replied: “His arrangement of the ant subfamilies, based on subjective hunches of evolutionary relationships rather than data, bore no resemblance at all to the well-supported relationships from subsequent data-based studies, like https://www.pnas.org/content/103/48/18172. (This 2006 research article, "Evaluating Alternative Hypotheses for the Early Evolution and Diversification of Ants," is co-authored by Seán G. Brady, Ted R. Schultz, Brian L. Fisher, and Philip S. Ward and edited by Bert Hölldobler, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany)
“There are no words that adequately describe E.O. Wilson's courage in challenging dogma, his energy in documenting and sharing the wonders of our planet, or his extraordinary creativity," said Diane Ullman, UC Davis professor of entomology and former chair of the Department of Entomology. "So much of his writing touched me deeply, from his writing about the continuum between art and science (Consilience), to his collaboration with Bert Hölldobler, addressing the incredible biology and behavior of social insects (Superorganism). He wrote a wonderful, 'coming of age' novel, seemingly much inspired by his own youth (Anthill)."
"The first time I was able to hear him speak in person was in 1996 at the International Congress of Entomology in Florence, Italy, where he was the plenary speaker opening the meeting. He spoke passionately about loss of biodiversity, and was sounding the alarm on impact of humans and climate change on the planet. He continued to lead this charge up to the very end, never giving up on proposing potential solutions on a global scale. He was witty and with use of metaphor made us see so very many things."
Caleb Johnson, who teaches writing at Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C., described E.O. Wilson as “the world's forestmost authority on biodiversity” in an April 21, 2020 article in The Bitter Southerner. He referred to him as “A world-renowned scientific thinker whose vision for stopping this unprecedented environmental hemorrhaging is based on more than seven decades of careful witness, writing, and work in ecology and conservation."
Johnson wrote that Wilson lost his right eye in a fishing accident in the summer of 1936 near Paradise Beach, Fla., but he never let that stop his goals.
"In the 1940s, E.O. Wilson was an Alabama teenager who wandered the bottomland around Mobile and studied its creatures. He never stopped and became the world's foremost authority on biodiversity. He's 90 now, but still working, because he knows there's a way to undo the damage we've done to Mother Earth."
As of Feb. 11, the videos posted on this site for free, public viewing include:
- "All About Nematodes," an 11-minute YouTube video by Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology." He explains what they are and discusses the diversity and research involved. See https://youtu.be/3fhv-P_O8I8.
- "Virtual Tour of the Bohart's Lepidoptera Collection," a 13-minute Aggie Video by Diane Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. She describes the natural history and ecology of several colorful and toxic species in the Bohart Museum of Entomology. See https://bit.ly/2LHYFzL
- "Insect Collection, Preservation and Identification," a 15-minute Aggie Video by Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist, Bohart Museum of Entomology. Heydon, the curator and collections manager of the Bohart Museum, gives an overview of how the museum collects, preserves and identifies some of its nearly 8 million specimens. See https://bit.ly/375eXdC
- "Common Millipedes of the Sacramento-San Francisco Region," a 23-minute YouTube video by Xavier Zahnle, a doctoral student in the lab of Professor Jason Bond lab, the Schlinger Chair in Systematics. Zahnle reviews the major groups of millipedes that are commonly found in the region, the diversity, and what makes them unique. See https://youtu.be/ZMAzm3A95VE
- "Demonstration of Insect Preparation: Butterflies and Moths," a 9-minute Aggie Video featuring Jeff Smith, curator of the Lepidoptera collection at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. He describes how to pin and spread moths and butterflies. This technique is the most common method that museums and researchers use to display adult Lepidopterans, allowing scientists to identify and study this diverse group of insects. See https://video.ucdavis.edu/media/0_9nymgt3c
- "All About Arachnids," a 24-minute YouTube video by Lacie Newton, a doctoral student in the lab of Professor Jason Bond lab, the Schlinger Chair in Systematics. She talks about the diversity of arachnids (spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites etc.) and their unique characteristics. https://youtu.be/FM_ANqARkI0
Other topics range from the Phaff Yeast Collection, California Raptor Center and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology to the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. More videos, including one on the diversity of bees by Chris Casey, manager of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, are being loaded throughout the month of February. To access all of the pre-recorded videos and activities, click here. To access the schedule of live talks and demonstrations, click here.
About the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Month
The 10th annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Month program is all virtual this year via webinars and pre-recorded presentations. All take place throughout the month of February. The science-based event traditionally occurs on only one day--the Saturday of Presidents' Weekend, when families and friends gather on campus to learn first-hand about the UC Davis museums and collections.
This year's biodiversity event focuses on 12 museums or collections:
- Anthropology Museum
- Arboretum and Public Garden
- Bohart Museum of Entomology
- Botanical Conservatory
- California Raptor Center
- Center for Plant Diversity
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven
- Nematode Collection
- Marine Invertebrate Collection
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology
- Paleontology Collection
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection
One of the activities listed in the pre-recorded talks and activities is a 10-page coloring book on plant-insect interactions. It's the work of Molly Barber, Fernanda Guizar, Collin Gross and Jasen Liu of the Santiago Ramirez lab, UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology. Ramirez is a global authority on orchid bees. Download the PDF of the coloring book here.
To help support the Biodiversity Museum event, contributions are being accepted through a month-long crowdfunding campaign program at https://crowdfund.ucdavis.edu/project/24310.
A newly installed UC Davis mural created by students enrolled in a remote-instructed class on symbolism and design is more than enough—it's considered “gorgeous, awesome and amazing.”
“The assignment was to design a symbol that was meaningful to them and that addressed a problem in the world,” said artist-entomologist Diane Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology who taught the class, “The Power of Visual Language through Symbolism and Expression in Clay” with designer-lecturer Gale Okumura of the UC Davis Department of Design.
The nine-tile mural, featuring flora and fauna designs, graces the wall just outside Room 126 of the Environmental Horticulture Building, 200 Arboretum Drive. Measuring 36 x 34-inches, it's the collaborative work of students Leslie Briceno-Marquez, Jason Hu, Analiese Ignacio, Heewon Shin, Emma Storm, Anushka Vispute and Mia Xiong, and their instructors.
The mural includes a honey bee, created by Storm, an anise swallowtail butterfly by Briceno-Marquez, and an octopus by Anushka Vispute.
Students learned the history of the use of symbols and signs in visual language from ancient to contemporary times, and gained an introduction to basic design principles, including the golden ratio, rule of thirds, and the use of lines, shapes, composition and perspective, as well as color theory and Gestalt Principles. They then applied them to their designs.
The instructors billed the course as “how to use symbolic representation in design and visual narrative to enhance expression and understanding of ideas and concepts.” Each student designed a symbol and then integrated it with their classmates' symbols in an online collaborative process. The work was then printed on tiles using a screen-printing method.
“The ability of the students to absorb such diverse information and transform their learning into meaningful designs was impressive,” Ullman said. “Each of the designs is very personal, but also expressive of a world view based on hope. Transforming their work into the cohesive mural we had all imagined together was exciting and transformative for the students and for us as teachers.”
Remote instruction proved to be challenging at times. “This class was meant to be highly participatory and hands on, so leading discussions in a remote environment and not being able to have students in our classroom, also called the Labudio (Lab plus Studio) was really difficult,” Ullman said. “We overcame this obstacle by sending them the materials they needed to draw their designs and then we used their digitized designs to print the design on ceramic tiles that were sent to them for completion, along with the glazes and brushes they needed. They then sent them back to us and we fired them.”
“This meant that all the steps of screen printing they would have learned and done themselves in the Labudio—printing film positives of their designs, coating silk screens with special emulsion, burning the screens with their designs, printing their designs with underglaze on ceramic tiles, had to be done by us. In addition, we had to prepare and address the packages. Even though the class was relatively small, this was labor intensive.”
Several artists from the UC Davis and local community rushed to their aid: Sarah Rizzo, Teresa Slack, Val Jones and Heather Mechling Eckels. Some are associated with the UC Davis Art-Science Fusion Program, co-founded by Ullman and artist Donna Billick of Davis, now a retired co-director of the program.
“It was a challenge because we maintained all social distancing mandates and could not be there all at the same time,” Ullman pointed out. “Everyone wore masks when they came to help, and we disinfected the space with bleach every time we worked there. They all came at different times to help—entirely out of the goodness of their hearts. We are so grateful for their helping hands.”
The instructors credited Bay Area artist Jos Sances with “sharing his printing techniques and loaning us emulsion when we couldn't buy it due to the pandemic. Donna Billick helped install the mural and taught us how to do it for the next mural installation. We are grateful for the life-long learning opportunity this work has been for us and our opportunity to meet and learn from these great artists.”
The mural has drawn dozens of accolades on Ullman's Facebook page:
- “It's just gorgeous!”
- "That octopus is amazing. Well, in fact each square has such awesome treasures.”
- “Love this!”
- “So beautiful!
- “Wow! This is beautiful—and even more impressive given the challenges with online learning”
- “This is so cool”
The instructors are teaching the same class this quarter and look forward to more creativity.
The Environmental Horticulture Building mural is one of 36 projects either installed or exhibited by students of Ullman—who teaches Entomology 001 and first-year seminars--and her collaborators, including Billick and Okumura.