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.
The distinction recognizes outstanding Senate faculty who have achieved the highest level of scholarship. "These are scholars whose work has been internationally recognized and whose teaching performance is excellent," according to the website.
Leal, former professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, serves as a mentor in the campuswide Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology (RSPIB), launched in 2011 and administered by UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty members professor Jay Rosenheim, associate professor Louie Yang and assistant professor Joanna Chiu.
RSPIB aims to provide academically strong and highly motivated undergraduates with a multi-year research experience that cultivates skills that will prepare them for a career in biological research. The annual deadline for undergraduates to apply is April 10.
Leal joins five other current or former faculty members of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology with the “distinguished professor” title: nematologists Howard Ferris and Harry Kaya and entomologists Bruce Hammock, Frank Zalom, Thomas Scott (now emeritus) and James R. Carey. Most are affiliated with RSPIB: Leal, insect physiology; Hammock, insect biochemistry; Zalom, integrated pest management, and Carey, insect demography.
Leal serves as co-chair the International Congress of Entomology (ICE) meeting, to take place Sept. 25-30, 2016 in Orlando, Fla.
Professor Ho Yul Choo of Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, South Korea, completed two sabbaticals in the UC Davis lab of Professor Harry Kaya and now Choo's son, Young-Moo, is a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis lab of chemical ecologist Walter Leal.
Young-Moo Choo, one of the authors of the ground-breaking DEET research published by the Leal lab in the Oct. 27 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, maintains close family ties with nematologist Harry Kaya, emeritus professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
As a visiting scientist, "Dr. Ho Yul Choo did two sabbaticals in my lab; the first was with his family in 1984-85 and Young-Moo attended elementary school in Davis," Kaya said. “Dr. Ho Yul Choo visited my lab a number of times and I visited his lab in Jinju a few times."
Young-Moo and his wife Hyang-A Won, an elementary teacher, have resided in Davis since Sept. 2, 2011.
Young-Moo received his doctorate at Dong-A University, Busan, South Korea, under professor Byung-Rae Jin. Young-Moo's younger brother, Young-Min Choo, is also a scientist who holds a doctorate. Young-Min will work as a postdoc in marine engineering at UC San Diego beginning in January 2005.
Leal first met Kaya in 1966. Kaya, who joined the UC Davis Department of Nematology (now the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology), in 1976, chaired the department from 1994-2001.
Both Leal and Kaya are fellows of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Kaya was honored at a special ESA seminar in 2011, and one of the speakers was Hol Yul Choo.
The Leal lab's groundbreaking research, “Mosquito Odorant Receptor for DEET and Methyl Jasmonate” is the work of project scientist Pingxi Xu, postdoctoral scholar Young-Moo Choo, and agricultural and environmental chemistry graduate student Alyssa De La Rosa and Professor Leal. Scientists have long known that DEET, the gold standard of insect repellents for more than six decades, effectively repels mosquitoes, but now researchers in the Leal lab have discovered the exact odorant receptor that repels them. They have also identified a plant defensive compound that might mimic DEET, a discovery that could pave the way for better and more affordable insect repellents.
Lewis replaces David Tebeest, University of Arkansas, as editor-in-chief. A member of the editorial board since 2002, Lewis became one of seven editors in 2009. Harry Kaya, emeritus professor of entomology and nematology at UC Davis, is a former editor-in-chief of the journal.
The multidisciplinary journal is described on the web as “an environmentally sound and effective means of reducing or mitigating pests and pest effects through the use of natural enemies. The aim of Biological Control is to promote this science and technology through publication of original research articles and reviews of research and theory. The journal encompasses biological control of viral, microbial, nematode, insect, mite, weed, and vertebrate pests in agriculture, aquatic, forest, natural resource, stored product, and urban environments.”
- Entomology-parasitoids, predators, and pathogens and their use through importation, augmentation, and/or habitat management strategies
- Plant pathology-antagonism, competition, cross-protection, hyperparasitism, hypovirulence, and soil suppressiveness through naturally occurring and introduced agents
- Nematology-predators, parasitoids, and pathogens in biological control through augmentation and/or habitat management strategies and suppressive soils through naturally occurring and introduced agents
- Weed science-vertebrates, invertebrates, and pathogens and their use through classical, augmentative, or bioherbicidal tactics
- Biocontrol of slugs and snails, and others.
“Basically, the journal covers the management of any populations of unwanted organisms through the use of parasites, predators and pathogens,” Lewis said.
Lewis is a member of the Entomological Society of America, Society of Invertebrate Pathology, and the Society of Nematologists. His professional service includes subject editor of the Journal of Nematology and North American editor of Biopesticides International. He is a former chair of USDA Regional Project 1024.
Lewis received his bachelor of science degree in natural resources from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.; his master’s degree in entomology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.; and his doctorate in entomology from Auburn (Ala.) University.
After receiving his doctorate, Lewis served as a post-doctoral research associate and then assistant research professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. He worked as a research associate in the Department of Entomology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and as an assistant professor, Department of Entomology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, before joining the UC Davis faculty as an associate professor of nematology and entomology in 2004. He was promoted to professor in 2008.
That's what moderator Michael Klein, The Ohio State University, said when he introduced Harry K. Kaya, emeritus professor of entomology and nematology, at a special seminar in his honor at the 2011 Entomological Society of America meeting.
The seminar, "Entomopathogenic Nematodes: Their Biology, Ecology, and Application. A Tribute to the Dynamic Career of Harry K. Kaya," took place Nov. 15 at the ESA's 59th annual meeting, held in the Reno/Sparks Convention Center.
Organizing the event were Lynn LeBeck, executive director, Association of Natural Bio-Control Producers (ANBP), Clovis; Ed Lewis, professor of entomology and nematology and acting chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology; and David Shapiro-Ilan, research entomologist, USDA's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).
Michael Klein, adjunct associate professor at The Ohio State University, moderated the seminar. Kaya worked on international research projects with Klein, who recently retired from the Horticultural Insects Research Laboratory, part of the USDA/ARS Application Technology Research Unit, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, Ohio
LeBeck echoed the feelings of the attendees when she praised Kaya as a top-notch researcher and as "a warm human being." She recalled the "many years of fun times and great research experiences with him."
LeBeck was one of dozens of people paying tribute to him and/or presenting a lecture at the special seminar.
Internationally recognized for his contributions to insect pathology and insect nematology, Kaya specialized in the utilizations of nematodes for biological control of insect pests; interaction between nematodes and other biological control agents; and general insect pathology (protozoan, viral and fungal diseases of insects).
One of the founders of the journal Biological Control, Kaya is a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America (2007) and the co-editor of the first and second editions of Field Manual of Techniques in Invertebrate Pathology, Application and Evaluation of Pathogens for Control of Insects and other Invertebrate Pests.
Scientists billed on the tribute program were:
Parwinder Grewal and Ruisheng An, The Ohio State University, "Cooperative Endurance and Pathogenesis: a Story of the Nematode and Bacteria Partnership"
Don Strong, UC Davis"Top Down Islands in a Bottom-Up Foodweb Sea: Native EPNs and Rootfeeders of Lupine"
Mary Barbercheck, Pennsylvania State University, "Hunter and Hunted: Entomopathogenic Nematodes in the Soil Food Web"
Larry W. Duncan, University of Florida, "Ecology and Conservation of Entomopathogenic Nematodes in Florida Citrus Groves"
Davis Shapiro-Ilan, USDA-ARS and Edwin Lewis, UC Davis, "Putting the Worms to Work: Application Technology for Entomopathogenic Nematodes"
James F. Campbell, USDA-ARS, Edwin Lewis of UC Davis and David Shapiro-Ilan, USDA-ARS, "Entomopathogenic Nematode Infection Behavior: from Mechanism to Adaptive Value"
Ho Yul Choo, Southern Forest Research Center, "Practical Use of Entomopathogenic Nematodes against Greenhouse Insect Pests"
Ramon Georgis, Brandt, "Commercialization of Entomopathogenic Nematodes: an Industry Perspective."
Kaya later said he was overwhelmed the outpouring. He sent the following note to the organizers: "I thank the organizers, Drs. Lynn LeBeck, Michael Parrella, Michael Klein, Ed Lewis, and David Shapiro-Ilan, for putting together this special symposium for me. I know it took a lot of effort in organizing the symposium, inviting speakers, and having a reception afterwards. I appreciate their efforts very much. I must say, however, that the speakers gave me too much credit when it was my students, post-doc, visiting scientists and collaborators who did the research and often came up with the research ideas and concepts. I was most privileged in having such dedicated students, researchers, friends, and colleagues around me and always having the great support of the department."
Harry K. Kaya
Kaya received B.S. and M.S. degrees in entomology from the University of Hawaii, and a Ph.D. in insect pathology from the University of California, Berkeley. He worked briefly as an entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (New Haven) before accepting a professorial position in the Department of Nematology and Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis in 1976.
He served as chair of the Department of Nematology from 1994-2001, and was treasurer (1992-1996), vice president (2000-2002) and president (2002-2004) of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology (SIP). He is especially proud of his students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting international scientists, who have excelled in entomology, insect pathology or nematology.
He is one of the founding editors of the journal Biological Control, and is currently Editor-in-Chief. Dr. Kaya has received a number of awards from ESA, SIP, and the Society of Nematologists. (From the Entomological Society of America website on his selection as an ESA Fellow, updated October 2007)