Professor Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is the newly appointed Associate Dean for Research and Outreach for Agricultural Sciences, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
"Jason's position is effective today, Oct 25," announced Dean Helene Dillard. "Jason succeeds Anita Oberbauer, who was reappointed earlier this summer as executive associate dean for the college."
"He has a long history at land-grant institutions, beginning with his Ph.D. in evolutionary systematics and genetics at Virginia Tech and later as a postdoctoral researcher at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago," she related.
In an email to fellow members of his department today, Bond wrote: "Like everyone, the events over the last year and half related to the pandemic, like how we communicate science, global change, and the massive social problems these issues are revealing, have really left an impression on me, and consequently feeling like I should be doing more. I have been impressed with Dean Dillard and the group that she has advising her, and am really excited about the opportunity to help facilitate the research, outreach, and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) missions of the College in a meaningful way."
Bond added that he has "no intention of abandoning my research/systematics program, teaching, or other Departmental obligations." He noted that he and his wife, Kristen (who coordinates a nurse training program for Dignity Health) graduated their only daughter this past June from Davis High School and "we are now empty nesters."
Professor Bond joined the UC Davis faculty in 2018 from Auburn University, where he directed the Auburn University Museum of Natural History (2011–2016), and served as professor and chair of the Auburn Department of Biological Sciences (2016–2018). He played a major role in the design and construction of a new state-of-the-art collections facility. He also directed the Alabama Natural Heritage Program, guiding its conservation activities of endangered and threatened species in the Southeast.
Bond was recently named co-editor-in-chief of the journal Insect Systematics and Diversity (ISD), published by the Entomological Society of America, and will serve a four-year term, starting Jan. 1. His credentials also include associate editor of Systematic Biology (2019–present) and editor of New World Mygalomorphae for Zootaxa (2016–present).
In his research, Bond specializes in the evolutionary diversification of terrestrial arthropods, specifically spiders, millipedes, and tenebrionid beetles; and researches the landscape scale genomics of California species, with an emphasis on understanding the impact of global change on biodiversity. (See Bond laboratory.) He is also a principal investigator associated with the California Conservation Genomics Project, a state-funded initiative with a single goal: to produce the most comprehensive, multispecies, genomic dataset ever assembled to help manage regional biodiversity.
Born in Johnson City, Tenn., Jason spent his childhood in Lewisville, N.C., a small town just outside of Winston-Salem. His American roots run deep; his ancestors made munitions for George Washington's army. His father grew up on the campus of East Tennessee State University, where his grandfather served as head of facilities. “The Bond Building” bears his name.
Jason received his bachelor's degree in biological sciences, cum laude, in 1993 from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, and his master's degree in biology in 1995 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg. He earned his doctorate in evolutionary systematics and genetics in 1999 from Virginia Tech.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Bond served for a number of years as a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew chief.
They will serve a four-year term, starting Jan. 1.
ISD publishes research on systematics, evolution, and biodiversity of insects and related arthropods, including comparative and developmental morphology, conservation, behavior, taxonomy, molecular phylogenetics, paleobiology, natural history, and phylogeography.
"Dr. Song and Dr. Bond are esteemed leaders in their areas of research, and their knowledge and experience with the evolving techniques in systematics, evolution, genomics, and beyond make them ideal for this role," ESA President Michelle Smith said in a news release issued Oct. 12. "My fellow ESA Governing Board members and I are pleased to welcome them aboard, and we look forward to seeing them build upon the excellent foundation that Dr. Cameron and Dr. Whitfield have established."
Launched in 2017, the journal is known as a premier publication for "cutting-edge research on systematics, evolution, and biodiversity of insects and related arthropods," the ESA news release related.
"Without question it's a real honor to be selected along with Dr. Hojun Song as one of the new co-editors of Insect Systematics and Diversity," Bond told ESA. "I am really excited to start working with such an incredibly talented group of associate editors, along with the managing team, that have already done the hard work establishing the journal as a go-to venue for publishing top-rate articles in insect and terrestrial arthropod evolution and systematics. I'll take this opportunity to ask the community to send us their ideas for future special topic issues!"
Bond joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty in 2018 from Auburn University, Alabama, where he directed the Auburn University Museum of Natural History (2011–2016), and served as professor and chair of the Auburn Department of Biological Sciences (2016–2018). He specializes in the evolutionary diversification of terrestrial arthropods, specifically spiders, millipedes, and tenebrionid beetles. (See Bond laboratory.)
Bond holds a bachelor's degree in biology (1993) from Western Carolina University, and two degrees from Virginia Tech: a master's degree in biology (1995) and a doctorate in evolutionary systematics (1999). He began his career as a research associate at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago in 1990. His credentials include associate editor of Systematic Biology (2019–present) and editor of New World Mygalomorphae for Zootaxa (2016–present).
"I am honored to be selected as a new co-editor-in-chief of Insect Systematics and Diversity, and I am excited about the possibility of moving the field of insect systematics in this new capacity," Song told ESA. "The inaugural co-editors-in-chief, Drs. Sydney Cameron and Jim Whitfield, have done a tremendous job launching the journal. Dr. Bond and I have some big shoes to fill, but we will do our best to make sure that ISD continues to become an outlet for publishing the best work in insect systematics, evolution, and biodiversity."
Song holds three degrees in entomology: a bachelor's degree (2000) from Cornell University and both his master's (2002) and doctorate (2006) from Ohio State University. He began his career as a research fellow in 2006 at Brigham Young University, and then served as an assistant professor and curator of the Stuart M. Fullerton Collection of Arthropods, University of Central Florida, before joining the Texas A&M faculty in 2015. He was named editor-in-chief of the journal Insect Systematics and Evolution in 2014. He specializes in arthropod systematics, biodiversity and evolution. (See Song laboratory.)
ESA, founded in 1889, is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and others in related disciplines. With a membership of 7000, it is headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland.
UC Davis Resources:
- Spotlight on Jason Bond (UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology)
- A Spider Is Always Watching You! (Bohart Museum of Entomology Open House)
- Name That Spider: Meet Cryptocteniza kawtak (UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology)
“The National Science Foundation put together a new ‘emergency' type of program earlier this year to support students that might have fallen through the cracks in terms of getting research experience due to the pandemic,” said Professor Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Bond obtained supplemental funding from both his NSF grants to support Iris Bright and Megan Ma through the Research Experience for Post-Baccalaureate Students (REPS) in the Biological Sciences Supplementary Funding Opportunity.
“It's great to have Iris and Megan in the lab and potentially add a couple of really exceptional women to our entomology graduate programs, and future professoriate,” Bond said. “The REPS program provides full time employment for Iris and Megan to work in the lab for one year.”
Both Bright and Ma hope to enroll in graduate school, obtain their doctorates, and become professors.
Iris Bright, a fine arts graduate who switched to science, is attending classes at night at Sacramento City College, where she is working toward her associate of science degree in biology and her field ecology certificate to obtain the necessary prerequisites for graduate school in entomology. She received her bachelor of fine arts degree (creative writing and literature) in the honors program from Emerson College, Boston, Mass., In 2015.
Bright, who volunteers at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, participated in the 2019 Bohart Belize BioBlitz collection trip, led by two Bohart Museum scientists, Professor Fran Keller of Folsom Lake College, a UC Davis doctoral alumnus, and David Wyatt, professor at . Sacramento City College.
“This trip was an incredible invertebrate learning experience and it's where I met Dr. Jason Bond,” Bright recalled. “I afterwards was able to become a volunteer at the Bohart working on the Belize Bugs project with the help of Dr. Fran Keller which further enriched the experiences and knowledge I gained in the field.”
Joining the Bond lab has “really opened doors for me to get hands-on research experience that I was lacking and did not know how to obtain due to being a full-time worker,” she said. She had previously worked full-time at a Sacramento florist business to fund her education.
Bright, who grew up in Paradise, Calif., in the Sierra Nevada foothills, said “I can't remember a time when I wasn't interested in insects and everything creepy crawly!”
“I started my first official bug collection around the age of 7 or 8 and it actually grew to be quite large,” she recalled. “My favorite specimen in the collection was a Banded Alder Borer (long-horned beetle) that my mom and I collected off the parking lot wall of a pet store. We were actually able to create a pretty unique display of the local insect life specific to that region. We also had a few specimens from friends in other states and comparing them to what I grew up seeing was my first foray into biodiversity.”
What fascinates her about entomology? “I am fascinated by the complex inner and outer workings of insects,” Bright said. “They are all around us and contribute so many ecological services that we are still trying to discover. Delving into those mysteries is not only fun but incredibly important especially in our current species die-off. Also. they are beautiful, colorful, and strange looking! Seeing tiny green wasps or purple beetles under a microscope is endlessly exciting.”
Bright is not the first in her family committed to entomology. “When I first started expressing interest in insects, my mom walked into our basement and pulled out (entomological) supplies, forceps, pins, Schmidt boxes, etc. I was too young to realize that these were not essentials in every home. and later found out that my grandfather had been an ‘amateur' entomologist. My mom would watch him as he pinned (specimens) and started developing her own love for insects which she was happy to revisit when she saw the same curiosity in me. She definitely instilled an appreciation for all nature in me from a very early age. In a way. I feel that becoming an entomologist will be putting an official title on a family tradition.”
Bright started working in the Bond lab in early August. “So far, I've been observing/assisting the graduate students with DNA extractions, and learning how to do digital imaging of specimens,” she said. “In the future, maybe Tenebrionidae (darkling beetle) work.”
She hopes to obtain her doctorate in entomology and become a professor “so I can do further research and also share my passion and interests with the next generations!”
Megan is a June 2021 graduate of UC Davis with a bachelor's degree in evolution, ecology and biodiversity and a minor in entomology. Megan is an accomplished scientific illustrator.
“I love observing and recreating the colors and textures I see in biology through art,” she said. “I want to use both imaging techniques and systematics to study the function, ecology, and evolution of morphology in terrestrial arthropods, specifically in myriapods and arachnids.”
As an undergraduate, she worked in the UC Davis laboratory of Jay Stachowicz, who specializes in marine community ecology. In the Bond lab, she is working on several projects involving wolf spiders, trap door spiders, and millipedes, as well as scientific illustrations.
A first-generational college student, Ma said that attending UC Davis as an undergraduate student and “getting a broad research and teaching experience has been extremely rewarding.”
“Getting involved in research early on (winter quarter of freshman year) really helped me hone in on what I enjoy about biology,” Ma said. “Some of the research projects I've worked on involve processing salt marsh plant matter for elemental analysis, studying the effects of warming and grazing on eelgrass, identifying marine invertebrates for biodiversity surveys, and using microCT imaging to visualize millipede genitalia development.
“I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to merge art and biology as an undergrad, as I've worked on the General Biology (BIS2C) laboratory manuals illustrations and taught scientific illustration at the Bodega Marine Laboratory to graduate students and professors. I've also begun to explore imaging techniques (like focus stacking and microCT) for studying spiders and millipedes in the Bond lab.
Born in Austin, Texas, but a resident of Alhambra, Calif., in the San Gabriel Valley, since age 3, Megan has long been intrigued by terrestrial arthropods (land-dwelling insects and their relatives, such as spiders, tarantulas, scorpions, praying mantids, and millipedes.)
Her interest in terrestrial arthropods piqued when she enrolled, as a freshman, in an “Introduction to Biology: Biodiversity and the Tree of Life” course, taught by Joel Ledford of the College of Biological Sciences faculty. “This was when I held Rosie The tarantula (at the Bohart Museum of Entomology) for the first time and learned about biology in the context of phylogeny. However, I didn't start rearing terrestrial arthropods until after joining the Bond lab around the end of my third year. Dr. Ledford introduced me to Dr. Bond and I started working as a scientific illustrator and research assistant for the lab with graduate student Xavier Zahnle.”
“During my first few weeks, Xavier handed me a female flat-backed millipede with black and orange coloring (Polydesmida: Xystodesmidae: Apheloriini),” Ma recalled. “I remember holding her with my bare hands and letting her crawl on my arm. Instead of worrying about potential repugnatory fluid secreting from her ozopores, I was thinking about how harmless she was, how little I knew about her, and how great it would be for me to study her.”
Ma immediately traveled to the Sacramento Reptile Expo, held that month, “and came home with my first two Florida Ivory millipedes (Chicobolus spinigerus). I knew I was hooked: I started prioritizing entomology courses.” She ended up adding an insect biology minor over other major courses and, in her free time, delved into arthropod husbandry information. “In the past four years, I've kept a handful of millipedes, several colonies of isopods, tarantulas, scorpions, mantises, and leaf insects. I don't think I can imagine myself without them.”
What fascinates her about terrestrial arthropods? “Since there is an overwhelming amount of biodiversity yet to be explored, there's always a niche for researchers to fill,” Ma said. “I wasn't paying attention to the terrestrial arthropods around me before joining the lab and taking entomology courses--learning more about them has made me more in-tuned with my surroundings. It makes daily life a little more interesting whenever I come across an arthropod friend on the sidewalk. One of my favorite things to do is come home to see one of my arthropod pets molting. “
Her career plans? “Working in the Bond lab has made me realize I want to continue seeing science through an artistic lens. Eventually, I want to become a professor and researcher at an undergraduate institution. I'd like to use both imaging techniques and systematics to study the function, ecology, and evolution of morphology in terrestrial arthropods, with special interests in millipedes and arachnids. I'd also like to mentor students, especially future women in STEM. I'd like to give back in same way my mentors have--I would not be where I am had they not taken a chance on me.”
Professor Bond specializes in the evolutionary diversification of terrestrial arthropods (spiders, millipedes, and tenebrionid beetles). Prior to joining the UC Davis faculty in 2018, he directed the Auburn University Museum of Natural History and chaired Auburn University's Department of Biological Sciences.
NSF called attention to its REPS program by noting it recognizes “the importance of early-career research experiences, especially for individuals contemplating a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research, and the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused on the career trajectories of undergraduate students who were denied such a research experience. Many undergraduates who had been planning to participate in research experiences this past year– whether through Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites, REU supplements, or individual arrangements with faculty mentors– found that their host labs or research settings were not able to accommodate them due to restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Students from underrepresented groups and those from schools with no access to research are particularly impacted...”
Not so taxonomist and arachnologist Rebecca Godwin, who holds a 2020 doctorate in entomology from the University of California, Davis and just published a comprehensive taxonomic revision of the New World members of the trapdoor spider genus, Ummidia.
In a nearly 10-year project that encompassed 800 specimens from 16 natural history museums throughout the world (including the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis), she updated the descriptions of the 20 known New World spiders, and described 33 new species.
“This study, along with many others conducted utilizing museum collections, is indicative of the importance of natural history collections and their usefulness in discovering unknown biodiversity,” said Godwin, who joined the faculty of Piedmont University, Demorest, Ga., last August as an assistant professor of biology.
Ummidia are medium-sized trapdoor spiders that construct silk-lined burrows, usually with cork-type doors. Their burrows, often covered with leaf litter, are difficult to find.
“The revision was an undertaking,” Godwin said. “I first started working on it almost ten years ago, but it was really only scratching the surface of the stories these spiders have to tell.”
Her major professor, Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, co-authored the paper, “Taxonomic Revision of the New World Members of the Trapdoor Spider Genus Ummidia Thorell (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Halonoproctidae),” published April 2 in ZooKeys.
Importance of Taxonomy
"The Ummidia revision really highlights the importance of taxonomic work and typifies the large number of arthropod species that remain to be described, even in North America,” Bond said. “In many instances, taxonomic work alone stands between a species being lost to both extinction and obscurity, particularly in light of the current human driven wave of mass extinction. As such, one could argue that never before has the discipline been so important; it is impossible to ‘save,' conserve, and/or inventory undiscovered species.”
Godwin's “richly descriptive taxonomic monographs represent important, hypothesis-driven science,” Bond said. “Rebecca started her work with a collection of specimens and then postulated tests of what constituted the limits of a species; where in the hierarchy of life that species is placed; and what homologous characters support her hypotheses."
At the onset of the UC Davis research, the number of described species in the genus, plus one subspecies, totaled 27. Of that initial number, 20 were considered New World species or in the Western hemisphere (the Americas.) The distribution ranged from North America and South America to Asia, Northern Africa and Europe.
“I am continually blown away by how little we know about what is out there living on this planet with us,” Godwin commented. “I think that anytime we can learn more about the organisms we share this planet with, it's a valuable endeavor. Most people don't even realize they are sharing their space with these spiders, literally right under their feet—not to mention the fact that these spiders tend to have very limited ranges and have very low dispersal. They can be winked out of existence without our ever knowing they were here, and I find that kind of heartbreaking.”
“Additionally, I think Ummidia is a fascinating group for evolutionary and population dynamic studies,” Godwin said. “Within a single genus there are the ‘traditional' extremely non-vagile species sympatric with species that appear to have mastered ballooning, potentially giving them much greater dispersal capabilities.”
Godwin said that “there are incredibly small species living alongside relatively quite large species. Is this dwarfism? Paedomorphism? Are there potentially sneaker males at work? We know so little about the actual life history and behavior of these spiders and how it might be varying from species to species.”
The authors examined trapdoor specimens from natural history museums in five countries—United States, Mexico, Italy, England, Germany and Colombia. Within the United States, they researched collections from 10 states: New York, California, Ohio, Colorado, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and Virginia.
“Ummidia is a wide-ranging genus, found in the southwestern Mediterranean, Central Asia, and in the Americas from as far north as Ohio and Maryland west to Arizona and south to Brazil, including the Greater and Lesser Antilles,” they wrote.
Ballooning, a behavior that distinguishes some Ummidia, “facilitates the dispersal of individuals over geographic features that would otherwise serve as barriers to gene flow,” they noted.
“Although species of Ummidia are very widespread and occur in a number of habitats, they tend to be very patchy in their distribution,” they wrote. “This, paired with the highly cryptic nature of their burrows, make them very difficult to collect, and so by necessity this revision is based almost entirely on historic rather than newly collected material. Much of this material was amassed from a number of collectors and institutions by the late Dr. Willis Gertsch, who spent over 40 years working on a revision of the group. Gertsch never published his work on Ummidia prior to his passing in 1999, but his notes and correspondence, stored in the archives of the American Museum of Natural History proved useful and insightful in the completion of this work.”
Godwin, citing the difficulty of revising the morphologically homogenous group, quoted Gertsch in one of his writings: “This is the most difficult ctenizid genus I know with such feeble, variable, erratic, aberrant characters that I find myself uncertain as to...what is a species.”
The Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowment primarily funded the trapdoor spider research. Godwin also received a $2000 Auburn University Museum of Natural History Collection Improvement Grant in 2015; and a $500 Auburn University Graduate School Research Fellowship in 2015-2016.
Godwin's research on trap spiders won high honors in graduate student competitions at the 2019 American Arachnological Society (AAS) meeting, held in Lexington, Va., and the 2018 Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting, held in Vancouver, BC. She won first place in the AAS student poster competition, and second in the ESA President's Prize graduate student competition.
Godwin holds two degrees from Auburn University: a bachelor's degree in zoology (2004) and her master's degree in wetland biology (2011). She began her doctoral studies at Auburn University in 2014, and transferred to UC Davis in 2018 when Bond, her major professor, accepted his UC Davis position.
At Piedmont University, Godwin teaches a number of biology classes, including introductory biology and invertebrate zoology. Her main research interests include the phylogenetics, taxonomy, and systematics of trapdoor spiders.
She is also keenly interested in science communication. “I have a true passion for effectively communicating science both with students in the classroom as well as with the public,” she said. “I believe that effective science communication at all levels and societal science literacy are crucial to create an informed society.”
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.