The 10 Fellows were announced today.
Hoover, who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in June, 1997, studied with major professors Sean Duffey (1943-1997) and Bruce Hammock. Hoover joined the PSU faculty as an assistant professor in 1998, achieving full professor in 2010.
Hoover's areas of expertise include biology and ecology of invasive species, insect-microbial symbiosis, tritrophic interactions, insect virology, and pollination of forest trees.
She is active in PSU's Center for Chemical Ecology, Center for Pollinator Research, and the Insect Biodiversity Center.
“Hoover is internationally recognized for uncovering detailed mechanisms of how phytochemicals reduce mortality by baculoviruses through physiological impacts on the larva's midgut (epithelial cells and peritrophic matrix,” said nominator Gary Felton, professor and head of the PSU Department of Entomology. Hoover and her co-advisors “patented baculovirus formulation additives that counteract these physiological effects, and thus increase the sensitivity of larvae to infections.”
“Kelli was a delight to have in the laboratory at UC Davis,” said Hammock, now a UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “She started her Ph.D. at Davis at an exciting time when we were trying to move recombinant baculoviruses into practical agriculture as green pesticides. Among the laboratories of Sean Duffey, Susumu Maeda, Kevin Heinz and extramural collaborators around the world, we had an exciting critical mass ranging, including virology, peptide chemistry, scorpion venoms, genetic engineering, pest management and others.”
“Kelli's interest in tritrophic interactions and her outgoing and engaging personality were just what was needed to pull the team together,” said Hammock, a 2010 Fellow. “As one would expect, Kelli's talents in science and leadership have served her well at Penn State. There her baculovirus work transitioned into a broader program in gypsy moth control and the invasion of the Asian longhorned beetle provided an opportunity to look at gut symbionts. Every project that Kelli touches seems to yield exciting results with practical implications. I am thrilled that the ESA has recognized what a star she is in our field.”
UC Davis doctoral alumnus Bryony Bonning, a professor at the University of Florida and a 2013 ESA Fellow, commented that “Kelli is so deserving of this award.”
“I worked with Kelli for two, delightful years at UC Davis, and was particularly impressed by the number of undergraduate students that she managed to mentor at the bench!” Bonning said. “Since then, she has established a stellar research program that has recently focused on both the fundamental biology and management solutions for invasive pests including Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and spotted lantern fly. Analysis of ALB semiochemicals resulted in a blend now sold by two companies and used in North America and Europe for ALB management."
“In collaboration with engineers, she has also spearheaded development of a method to prevent introduction of invasive species in the wood packing associated with international shipments,” Bonning noted. “This dielectric heating technology, used to treat and kill insects hidden in the wood packing, is at the stage of commercial equipment prototype. These examples reflect both the interdisciplinary breadth of Kelli's research program and the seamless melding of science to address fundamental questions that lead to practical solutions. This breadth of scope and ability to identify commercially useful components of the system is a relatively rare phenotype among entomologists! Further, Kelli is driven to engage the necessary parties (scientists, stakeholders, policy makers) toward implementation of strategies to prevent or manage the impact of invasive species on U.S. agriculture."
In his nomination letter, Felton, a 2014 ESA Fellow, said that Hoover excels in research, teaching, and service. “There are three key attributes that stand out in Dr. Hoover's research contributions: interdisciplinary, collaborative, and integrative,” he wrote. “Hoover's program encompasses research, education, outreach and service related to the biology of and solutions for invasive species threats, in forest, ornamental, and agricultural systems. She integrates basic and applied research in multi-trophic interactions, microbial symbioses, invasion biology, and insect physiology.”
For 19 years, Hoover has collaborated with industrial engineers and national and international regulatory agencies “to develop a novel technology (patents pending) to reduce the risk of pathways that can introduce alien forest pests through international trade,” Felton wrote. “She has used her studies to create a platform for education and training of a diverse group of undergraduates, graduate students, and post-graduate scholars. Since Hoover's interdisciplinary approach allows her to interact with and serve as a bridge between multiple disciplines and diverse stakeholders, she has initiated broad networking opportunities for members of these communities by organizing and leading multi-disciplinary research teams, symposia, and international conferences.”
Asian Longhorned Beetle, Gypsy Moth
“The vast majority of Hoover's studies focuses on basic and applied research on invasive species, such as the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and gypsy moth and most recently the spotted lanternfly,” Felton wrote. “Hoover and collaborators investigated semiochemical communication in ALB in an effort to help regulatory agencies detect and monitor ALB in the field, especially at low densities. Hoover and colleagues took the male-produced volatile sex pheromone (discovered by USDA/ARS) and conducted years of basic lab and field research to produce a commercially available ALB lure (pheromones and kairomones) and trapping system, which primarily captures virgin females. The blend developed by Hoover and her team is sold by two major pheromone companies and has been used in North America, Germany, Britain, Switzerland and Italy. She and collaborators also characterized behavioral responses to a putative female-produced trail pheromone that elicits following behavior by males.”
Hoover is also heavily involved in preventing the introduction of invasive species. Her research draws support from governmental grant programs, commodity groups and the private sector. She is currently the principal investigator or co-PI on grants totaling $10 million, with $1.62 million directly supporting her program, Felton said, adding that she has actively collaborated with researchers in Europe, China, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
Felton described her as “an effective educator and mentor of the next generation of scientists.”
She has mentored 43 undergraduates, 11 PhD and 10 masters students, and 13 postdoctoral scholars, “many of whom have received prestigious awards and fellowships.”
High Impact Interdisciplinary Research
“While making new discoveries through basic research, she continues to strive to apply the outcomes of that research by actively engaging other scientists, stakeholder groups, and policymakers within Pennsylvania, nationally, and globally to make a difference -- to prevent and/or manage the consequences of invasive species on our ecosystems,” Felton wrote. “Her ability to conduct high impact interdisciplinary research and integrate transformational and translation research is truly outstanding.”
Born in Lubbock, Texas, but raised in the south San Francisco area,Kelli received her bachelor of science degree in 1979 from UC Berkeley, with honors, majoring in the biology of natural resources. She obtained her master's degree in biology, with an emphasis on entomology, from San Jose State University in 1992 before joining the doctoral program at UC Davis. After a year as a President's Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley, she joined the faculty in the Department of Entomology at PSU in 1998.
Active in ESA since 1996, Hoover has judged student competitions at 10 national meetings. She has organized numerous national or branch meeting symposia and served as a subject editor for Environmental Entomology. She chaired or co-chaired organizing committees for three annual meetings of the International Society for Invertebrate Pathology and held the office of treasurer for four years.
Fellows of ESA are individuals who have made outstanding contributions to entomology— via research, teaching, extension, administration, military service, and public engagement and science policy —and whose career accomplishments serve to inspire all entomologists, according to the ESA, a worldwide organization with a membership of some 7000.
Jay Rosenheim was a third-year physics major at the University of California, Davis, in 1981 when—“on a lark”--he enrolled in Professor Harry Kaya's Entomology 100 course.
The professor inspired him, the class enthralled him, and insects captivated him.
In mid-term, Jay changed his major to entomology, and went on to earn two degrees in entomology (bachelor's degree from UC Davis in 1983, and doctorate from UC Berkeley in 1987); join the UC Davis faculty in 1990; and become a UC Davis distinguished professor in 2018.
The former UC Davis physics major is now a newly inducted Fellow of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA), a global honor accorded to only 10 persons annually.
Marshall Johnson, a 2006 ESA Fellow and an emeritus Cooperative Extension specialist and researcher at UC Riverside, nominated Rosenheim for the award. “Jay was my postdoc at the University of Hawaii,” Johnson said. “He did a great job and I have kept my eye on his career ever since.
ESA singled out Rosenheim at its virtual meeting for his contributions on the ecology of insect parasitoids and predators, insect reproductive behavior, and the application of big data, or "ecoinformatics," methods in agricultural entomology.
And it all began four decades ago in a UC Davis classroom. This is what occurred.
“About a month or so before the course was to be taught, I received a call from this physics student, Jay Rosenheim, who wanted to take Entomology 100,” recalled Kaya, now an emeritus professor and himself an ESA Fellow (2007) for his international contributions to insect pathology and nematology. “I asked a few questions on why he wanted to take the course. He said he always loved insects but he said he did not have the prerequisites for the class--no college biology-- but he was keenly interested in insects and really wanted to take the class.”
Kaya was actually teaching the class for Professor Robbin Thorp (1933-2019), a bee specialist on sabbatical. “At the time, I had a 25 percent teaching appointment in entomology and a 75 percent research appointment in nematology,” Kaya said. “When Martin Birch, the department chair, asked me to teach the course, I told him that I hoped he could find someone else, but he came back and said I would be the best to teach it.” Birch assigned two of Thorp's graduate students, Evan Sugden and John Skinner, as teaching assistants for the twice-a-week entomology lab.
“Jay also worked briefly in my lab as an undergraduate as well,” Kaya related. “I should add other superlatives as outstanding and world-renowned entomologist. In my view, it did not matter who taught the ENT 100 course. Jay is simply an outstanding individual and has contributed so much on his own merit. Plus, he has a great personality.”
A native of Yorktown, N.Y, young Jay developed an interest in biology while exploring the vernal pools behind his Hudson River Valley home.
His insect interests not only led to his being elected an ESA Fellow but a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; recipient of teaching awards from the Associated Students of UC Davis and the UC Davis Academic Senate; and the Distinguished Student Mentoring Award from ESA's Pacific Branch. He has authored more than 160 peer-reviewed publications, and mentored nearly 40 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, now in the private sector, conservation nonprofits, journalism, or academia.
And it all began when a physics major named Jay Rosenheim asked to enroll in Professor Harry Kaya's entomology class.
Karban is an international authority on plant communication.
“Rick's pioneering discoveries on plant communication through volatile compounds certainly merit this recognition,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
ESA, in announcing the list of 27 fellows, said that its fellowship program recognizes the many ways in which its members contribute to ecological research and discovery, communication, education and pedagogy, and management and policy.
Karban is the author of the newly published 240-page book, Plant Sensing and Communication (University of Chicago Press), considered a “landmark in its field,” said Graeme Ruxton of the University of St. Andrews, UK, co-author of Experimental Design for the Life Sciences and Plant-Animal Communication.
“Karban seeks to argue that plants behave—that they sense their environment, detect and communicate with an array of different organisms, and respond to their sense of the environment and communication,” Ruxton said. ”He is very successful in this, demonstrating that plant sensing and communication is a vibrant area of current research with still plenty more to discover.”
Karban has researched plant communication in sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) on the east side of the Sierra since 1995. His groundbreaking research on plant communication among kin, published in February 2013 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, drew international attention. In that study, Karban and his co-researchers found that kin have distinct advantages when it comes to plant communication, just as “the ability of many animals to recognize kin has allowed them to evolve diverse cooperative behaviors.”
“Plants responded more effectively to volatile cues from close relatives than from distant relatives in all four experiments and communication reduced levels of leaf damage experienced over the three growing seasons,” they wrote.
Karban is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and recipient of the 1990 George Mercer Award from ESA for outstanding research. He was named an outstanding professor, ecology, at UC Davis in 1986. He has published more than 100 journal articles and now, three books.
Karban is featured in the Dec. 23-30, 2013 edition of The New Yorker in Michael Pollan's piece, “The Intelligent Plant: Scientists Debate a New Way of Understanding Plants."
Karban received his bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Haverford (Penn.) College in 1977 and his doctorate in biology from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in 1982. He served as a lecturer at Haverford College for six months before joining the UC Davis faculty in May 1982 as an assistant professor. He advanced to associate professor in 1988 and to full professor in 1994.
Karban's former graduate student, Anurag Agrawal, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, was also elected a 2017 fellow for his “innovative contributions to community and evolutionary ecology, especially through providing conceptual advances and rigorous experimental work on plant-insect interactions.”
Agrawal received his doctorate at UC Davis in 1999.
Another UC Davis professor, John Stachowicz of the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology was elected as a 2017 fellow “for his fundamental contributions to the fields of symbiosis and mutualism, multi-trophic species interactions, biogeography, and invasion biology.”
ESA established its fellows program in 2012 with the goal of honoring its members and supporting their competitiveness and advancement to leadership positions in the Society, at their institutions, and in broader society, said spokesperson Lisa Lester.
(The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world's largest community of professional ecologists, and committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society's Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.)