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.”
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.
Provost Ralph Hexter and Richard Engel, executive director of CAAA, presented the award.
Last year Li received the Department of Entomology’s Outstanding Undergraduate Award in Entomology.
Li, who grew up in Monterey Park, near east Los Angeles where she learned to love insects, was nominated for the senior award by Professor Sharon Lawler of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “Ivana Li exemplifies the kind of leader, community organizer and entomology that our department seeks to produce," Lawler wrote. "She has especially excelled in her entomology courses and in leadership. Ivana Li is a true entomology and UC Davis success story.”
“Although initially shy, Ivana took advantage of the welcoming atmosphere here to not only develop intellectually, but to flower as a focal personality in the community of entomology students and faculty. She is a key player in virtually all of the outreach our department offers, from leading the Bohart Museum of Entomology tours for schoolchildren and assisting at open houses to developing and hosting UC Davis Picnic Day displays.”
Lawler also praised Li for installing the “major, eye-catching interpretive display of insects that lines a corridor in our department. It is informative, engaging and of a quality that rivals any professional museum.”
Active in the UC Davis Entomology Club, Li has held most of the offices, including president, and her “efforts have been key in making the club thrive,” Lawler said. The club is a valuable forum for outreach, peer mentoring and marketing, according to club advisor Robert Kimsey, forensic entomologist.
Li helped create an important Entomology Club contract with National Park Survey (NPS) to survey Alcatraz Island for wood-boring beetles. Kimsey has done fly research on Alcatraz for several years.
As an artist, Ivana has combined her research with her humorous side via Bohart Museum of Entomology t-shirts and by participating in a landmark paper, “A Phylogeny and Evolutionary History of the Pokémon,” published in the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) in July 2012. The paper is a humorous take on the evolutionary development and history of the 646 fictional species depicted in the Pokémon media over the last 16 years
Li works at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of nearly eight million insects. The entomology display she created for the Briggs third-floor hallway, was funded by a Bohart Museum grant, and completed within a four-week period. Assisting her from the Bohart were Lynn Kimsey, museum director and professor of entomology; senior museum scientist Steve Heydon; and Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. Yang wrote the grant.
Visitors can see everything from dragonflies, butterflies and honey bees to beetles, flies, ants and other insects.
- Order Lepitopdera, butterflies and moths
- Order Coleoptera, beetles
- Order Hemiptera, true bugs
- Order Hymenoptera, bees, ants and wasps
- Order Diptera, flies, mosquitoes, knats and midges
- Orthopteroid orders, including Mantodea (mantids), Phasmatodea (stick insects) and Blattodea (cockroaches)
- Aquatic insects, including Odonata (dragonflies), Ephemeoptera (mayflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies), Neuroptera (lacewings and antlions), and Trichoptera (caddisflies)
- Phylum Arthopodea, the largest animal phylum, which includes insects, spiders and crustaceans.
Her future plans include enrolling in graduate school.