(Editor's Note: An indepth story on the UC Davis award winners is pending.)
Rosenheim won the Distinction in Student Mentoring Award, and Gillung, the Student Leadership Award.
They will be honored at the PBESA meeting, themed "Practical Solutions Through Science and Industry Partnerships," set June 10-13 at the Atlantis Casino Resort, Reno.
PBESA President Brad Higbee reported that the branch received 31 nomination packets for 13 different awards. Nominees represented nine different institutions across six U.S. states and two other countries. Winners were selected by a diverse group of 36 anonymous judges from PBESA, he said.
The other recipients:
- Pacific Branch C. W. Woodworth Award: Roger Vargas, USDA ARS, Hilo, Hawaii
- Award for Excellence in Teaching: William Walton, University of California, Riverside
- Award for Excellence in Extension: David Haviland, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management: Alan Knight, USDA ARS, Wapato, Wash.
- Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity Award: No awardee this year
- Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology Award: Jeffrey Fabrick, USDA ARS, Maricopa, Ariz.
- Medical, Urban and Veterinary Entomology Award: Alec Gerry, University of California, Riverside
- Plant-Insect Ecosystems Award: Theresa Pitts-Singer, USDA ARS, Logan, Utah
- Excellence in Early Career: Amber Tripodi, USDA ARS, Logan, Utah
- John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award: Adekunle Adesanya, Washington State University
- Entomology Team Work Award: led by Doug Walsh of Washington State University and including Sally O'Neal, Erik Johansen, Shane Johnson, Mark Waggoner, Harvey Yoshida, Jamey Thomas, and Mike Lees. "Pest and Pollinator Management Team"
PBESA represents 11 states, seven U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
DAVIS—UC Davis Professor Jay Rosenheim researches, lectures, and publishes his work on predator-prey interactions, but he's now targeting another kind of predator: an insidious foe that can be as stealthy and powerful as it is terrifying.
A six-letter word: Cancer.
But it's a foe that society eventually will defeat, declares Rosenheim in his newly published article, Short- and Long-Term Evolution in Our Arms Race with Cancer: Why the War on Cancer is Winnable, in the journal, Evolutionary Applications.
“Human society is engaged in an arms race against cancer, which pits one evolutionary process – human cultural evolution as we develop novel cancer therapies – against another evolutionary process – the ability of oncogenic selection operating among cancer cells to select for lineages that are resistant to our therapies,” wrote Rosenheim, a 28-year member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty who has battled chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) for the past seven years.
Despite individual setbacks, society's “cumulative progress in developing anti-cancer therapies is giving us a bigger and bigger lead in our arms race against cancer,” the professor wrote. “That's why the war on cancer is winnable.”
In the 2600-word, well-referenced piece, Rosenheim frames his argument by citing that “it is helpful to begin with more typical evolutionary arms races that occur between human populations and various injurious organisms whose populations we perennially attempt to suppress. Injurious organisms include those that attack us directly (human parasites and pathogens); organisms that vector pathogens to human hosts; organisms that compete with our crops (weeds) or that directly attack our crops or domesticated animals; and organisms that attack or infest our homes. To suppress these disease or pest populations, we deploy a huge array of drugs, pesticides, and other suppressive measures on a global scale (REX consortium 2012). In each case, this sets in motion an evolutionary arms race, pitting one long-term evolutionary process (human cultural evolution, as we invent new control tactics) against another long-term evolutionary process (evolution of resistance by natural selection in the populations of the injurious organisms).”
He pointed out that “Cancer cells have a powerful ability to evolve resistance over the short-term, leading to patient relapse following an initial period of apparent treatment efficacy. However, we are the beneficiaries of a fundamental asymmetry in our arms race against cancer: whereas our cultural evolution is a long-term and continuous process, resistance evolution in cancer cells operates only over the short-term, and is discontinuous: all resistance adaptations are lost each time a cancer patient dies. Thus, our cultural adaptations are permanent, whereas cancer's genetic adaptations are ephemeral. For this reason, over the long term, there is good reason to expect that we will emerge as the winners in our war against cancer.”
Although the professor does not mention his own cancer diagnosis in the article, he is open about the disease, both with students and his peers. “Prior to 2001, CML was a very bad disease, with little chance of survival beyond three to five years,” Rosenheim related. Then in 2001, the Federal Food and Drug Administration approved imatinib, the first of the “targeted chemotherapies.” Time magazine hailed it as “the new ammunition in the war against cancer” in its May 28, 2001 cover story.
“CML remains one of the most dramatic successes of targeted chemotherapies for cancer, and it is also now an equally dramatic example of how our cumulative progress in developing anti-cancer therapies is giving us a bigger and bigger lead in our arms race against cancer. The result is that more and more CML patients live out their full lives. And, in the meantime, the research oncologists are working now on how to move to the next step of an outright cure for CML.”
In the article, Rosenheim concludes: “The war on cancer has struggled during its first four decades to make major inroads on cancer mortality. This is, to a large degree, due to cancer's prodigious short-term ability to evolve resistance to our therapeutic interventions. But, with our ability to mount a sustained, continuous process of cultural evolution, in which every increase in our knowledge and every therapeutic tool devised is permanently retained, it was reasonable to expect that the tide would eventually turn. The Achilles' heel of cancer is that it cannot retain its resistance-conferring adaptations across different hosts. Whether with small, incremental steps, or large, dramatic leaps forward, the cumulative progress in our ability to treat cancer will, in the end, reveal the war on cancer to be winnable.”
UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, said that “this article makes a strong argument that our physicians need a full tool box for the war on cancer, and it provides real hope that this expanded tool box will lead to our winning the war.”
“There are few adults not touched directly or indirectly by cancer,” Hammock said. “Based on expanding fundamental knowledge of biology. there are numerous new cancer treatments. Yet it seems cancer often wins in the end. From an evolutionary perspective the Rosenheim article gives us hope that cancer can be beaten by a multi modal approach because unlike pathogens, cancers must start their evolutionary process fresh with each patient.”
“Indeed, cancer battles are being won, but the war is far from over and goes on,” said Bodai, a 1977 UC Davis School of Medicine alumnus, a UC Davis clinical professor of surgery, and a nominee for the 2015 Congressional Gold Medal. Noted for his cancer awareness drives, he convinced Congress and the U.S. Postal Service to issue the Breast Cancer Research Stamp and is currently introducing a “global stamp” to raise worldwide awareness.
“Each year 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer,” Bodai said. “Worldwide, 14 million cancer diagnoses will be made, with a death rate which is unknown, due to poorly reported statistics and terminal events. We do know that 600,000 deaths annually are due to malignancies in the United States, exceeded only by cardiovascular disease as a primary cause of death.”
Turning to the Rosenheim article, Bodai noted “I appreciate the intricacies of our bodies, environmental factors, potential adaptations, mutational potentials as they may not only play a role, but potentially, rule the development of carcinogenic activities. The author and I share two common characteristics: first, we are both cancer ‘survivors'--a term I am not particularly fond of as it may imply that we were successful, as others were not through no fault of their own--and second, it appears that we share a deep commitment to fight cancer on all fronts. The hypothesis of a mutagenic potential of cancer cells to overcome the effectiveness of current and future potential treatments is alarming and should be of concern to all, especially future generations.
Cancer research scientist Dipak Panigrahy of Harvard University's Judah Folkman lab, considered one of the country's best cancer treatment labs, said that "Cancer has already or will impact every person. Dr. Rosenheim's exciting article provides the public compelling evidence on why cancer patients should never give up hope. This expert analysis on our race with cancer gives a unique and comprehensive review of recent promising cancer treatments. Despite the setbacks and challenges of cancer research, this article gives us hope we will eventually win vs. cancer.”
Cancer research scientist Paul Henderson of the UC Davis Division of Hematology and Oncology, and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, who researches which technologies will best benefit cancer patients, said the paper “is an excellent summary of the history of cancer care and the implications for our sustained effort as a society to overcome resistance to therapy and win the war on cancer.”
Rosenheim, who joined the UC Davis entomology faculty in 1990, is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the Entomological Society of America, and a co-founder of the UC Davis campuswide Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology. Highly honored for his teaching, he received the Academic Senate's Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching and the Associated Students' Excellence in Education Award.
He will speak at 10:45 a.m. on "Using Farmer Data to Improve Pest Management in California Citrus." The half-day meeting takes place in the UC ANR Building, 2801 2nd St., Davis, beginning at 8 a.m. with registration.
Introduction – Minghua Zhang, chair of the PUR analysis workgroup
“PUR Data Helps DPR Make California a Better Place” – Brian Leahy, director of California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR)
“The Joys and Challenges of Managing PUR Gurus” – Joe Damiano, branch chief of Pest Management and Licensing, DPR
“The Use of PUR and Monitoring Data for the Protection of Surface Waters in California” by Dan Wang, Environmental Monitoring Branch, DPR
“How, Why, and So What? Answers from the School Pesticide Use Data Steward” by Eric Denemark, DPR
“Air Pollution Challenges: Protecting the air we breathe by using PUR data as part of the regulatory development process” by Rosemary Neal, DPR
“Pesticides, Parks, and Priorities: A Tool for Monitoring Pesticides in California Natural Areas” by Erik Meyer, National Park Service
“Using Farmer Data to Improve Pest Management in California Citrus” by Jay Rosenheim, Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis
“Economic Effects of Regulations Restricting Pesticide Applications near School Sites” by John Steggall, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)
“Using Behavior to Change Behavior: the Value of PUR Data in Entomology Education and Extension programs” by David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension, UC ANR.
Discussion on what is next and summary
12:30 Workshop ends
Light refreshments and lunch will be provided upon registration by clicking at https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=20565. Continued Education units are also available.
For questions: contact Steering Committee members.
- Minghua Zhang, email@example.com, (530) 752-4953
- Kimberly Steinmann, Kimberly.firstname.lastname@example.org, (916) 445-7929
- Eric Denemark, Eric.Denemark@cdpr.ca.gov, (916) 324-3483
- John Steggall, email@example.com, (916) 999-3013
He focuses his research on the behavioral, population and evolutionary ecology of parasitoid-host and predator-prey interactions. His work has direct applications to integrated pest management and biological control in agriculture.
Rosenheim explains on his website: "I am an ecologist with broad interests, including behavioral and evolutionary ecology as well as population and community ecology. I focus on predator-prey, parasitoid-host, pathogen-host, and plant-insect interactions. My general approach is to try to ask important, fundamental questions in ecology with an eye to advancing our basic understanding and, when possible, to simultaneously make contributions to solving problems in the real world. I attempt to integrate empirical studies (observational work, manipulative experiments) with theoretical investigations (simulation and basic analytical models); I often find that I can make the best progress with my research problems by conducting a dialogue between theory and experiment. I also try to balance work in natural ecosystems and in agricultural ecosystems, where predators and parasitoids are so important as biological control agents."
Rosenheim joined the UC Davis faculty in 1990 as an assistant professor, advancing to associate professor in 1994, and full professor in 1998. He is active in the Entomological Society of America, Ecological Society of America, Society for the Study of Evolution and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
He received his bachelor's degree in entomology and genetics from UC Davis in 1983, and his doctorate in entomology in 1987 from UC Berkeley.
The International Organization for Biological Control was established in 1956 to promote environmentally safe methods of pest and disease control in plant protection. The Global Council sponsors many international working groups and publishes a newsletter.
Undergraduate student Jessica West, Ph.D. candidate Rosanna Kwok, and research specialist Katherine “Katie” Murphy all excel in STEM, an acronym that stands for the academic disciplines of “science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
“Undergraduates who learn cutting-edge research skills in laboratories like Dr. Chiu's set themselves apart from students who only pursue coursework for their degree,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “Undergraduate research opportunities are what turn science students into young scientists.”
Early in their undergraduate studies, West and Murphy were accepted into the UC Davis Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology, a vigorous, multi-discipline, research and mentoring program administered by UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty members Jay Rosenheim, Louie Yang and Chiu.
"Including this year, over the first six years that the program has operated, we have admitted 58 students, 36 of which (62%) are women," said Research Scholars Program co-administrator and professor Jay Rosenheim.
"It is asking a lot of freshmen and sophomores to jump into an intensive research experience when they are already challenged by their academic course load," Rosenheim said. "But we've been very gratified with the accomplishments of the students and their demonstrated abilities to develop the skills needed to conduct independent research. Strong effort by the students and close mentorship by campus faculty seem to be key ingredients in student success.”
West, who will receive her bachelor's degree in bochemistry and molecular biology June 12, is the recipient of the 2016 College of Biological Sciences Medal—only one is awarded each year. She also won an “Outstanding Citation for Research Performance.” Although not yet in graduate school, West has already published two peer-reviewed articles. In November 2015, she received the President's runner-up prize at the Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting in Minneapolis for her talk on the seasonal biology of the spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii. This fall she will enroll in the Ph.D. program in biochemistry at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. “Over her undergraduate graduate career, Jessica has compiled an impressive list of awards and prizes,” said Chiu, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Kwok, scheduled to graduate from UC Davis in the fall of 2016 with a Ph.D. degree in entomology, has already published six peer-reviewed papers, including one in PLOS Genetics, and has three more in preparation. As part of her requirement for her 2014-16 NIH fellowship, she will leave the Chiu lab in June 2016 to start an internship at OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in Redwood City, CA. The internship is her last requirement before graduation from the Entomology Graduate Group.
Like West, Kwok received a President's runner-up prize (2013 ESA meeting) for her presentation on the chronotoxicity of spotted wing drosophila, working with Chiu and Professor Frank Zalom, integrated pest management specialist in the department. “I believe Rosanna will have a very successful career in the biotech industry,” Chiu said.
Murphy, who was accepted into the inaugural class for the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology, began working in the Chiu lab her sophomore year. When she graduated from UC Davis in 2014 with a bachelor of science degree in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior, she received an “Outstanding Citation for Research Performance.” After graduation, she opted to stay in the Chiu lab to gain more research experience. “Over her career in my lab--from undergraduate research to two years of technician-- Katie has already published four peer-reviewed papers, has one currently in review, and two in preparation,” Chiu said. She is also an author on a provisional patent application for a biopesticide that the Chiu lab developed to target insect pests.
The three young women followed a similar path to get where they are today and strongly encourage others to pursue STEM careers.
Jessica West, who grew up in the Redding area of Northern California, spent her childhood in the small town of Shasta Lake before enrolling at UC Davis.
“I first became interested in science in high school, particularly when I took Advance Placement (AP) Biology,” West recalled. “ I was very curious and always asked a lot of questions in school. What excites me the most is that now I can ask questions that don't yet have answers, and through my research I can work to actually answer them.”
West, who will start her PhD program in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology at Cornell in the fall, says her career goal “ is to teach and conduct research at the university level.”
“I think it's important to start getting girls involved in science at a young age,” West said. “Often young girls are not encouraged to pursue their interests in STEM subjects, but I think that the culture is changing. There are programs like Girls Who Code that seek to get more girls involved in STEM fields that are traditionally male-dominated. If young girls can see that other women like them can succeed in STEM fields, they are more likely to see their goals as attainable.”
Rosanna Kwok grew up in Las Vegas, Nev. –“Yes, people actually live there,” she quipped. “I have always been interested in having a career in science,” she recalled, “and it just took a bit of exploration before I found myself studying the circadian clock under the mentorship of Joanna. The most exciting and motivating thing about being a scientist is knowing that I have the resources to answer the ‘how' and ‘why' questions regarding biological phenomenon.
Her career plan is “to contribute my background and skills to the field of precision therapeutics. It is hard to predict where I will be in a few years, but my goal is to be in an environment where I am constantly challenged and growing as a scientist.”
How to get more young women and girls interested in science? “Thankfully, I do believe that there is a much greater representation of women in sciences than there has in the past,” Kwok said. “With that said, I really believe in the importance of establishing mentoring relationships when it comes to retaining the amount of women in science. I have definitely benefitted from having strong female mentors throughout my scientific career. Many girls are discouraged starting from pursuing their curiosities, or from pursuing certain career paths, and sometimes it takes a more established person in that field to tell them to just go for it, and not apologize for wanting something different than what's expected of them.”
“I believe that in order to get more people in general interested in science, there needs to be more communication between scientists and people who are not in STEM fields,” Kwok said. “Not only will this show that large scientific achievements can be made by real people, it will also help prevent the misconceptions and distrust in science that we sometimes see."
Katherine “Katie” Murphy
Katie Murphy spent her childhood in a small rural town in Lake County, Northern California. “ I grew up on a pear farm, which exposed me to the staggering amount of fruit that goes to waste if the appearance of the fruit is not perfect enough for the grocery store,” she related. “I believe we have a duty as a society to be less wasteful, and therefore I feel inspired to find ways to turn waste into useful materials."
“I discovered my interest in science as a career through a student research position in Dr. Joanna Chiu's lab at UC Davis,” Murphy said. “I believe the greatest challenges that face the world today, such as world hunger, global warming, and the energy crisis, can only be met through technological advancement. I am excited for the opportunity to develop new technologies that use cutting edge science to make the world a better place.”
As an undergraduate research assistant, she was awarded a UC President's Undergraduate Research Fellowship for the summer/fall of 2012 for her project, “Transgenic Yeast as an Organic Pesticide.” She explored the use of RNAi technology in combating the invasive pest, the spotted-wing drosphila, Drosophila suzukii.
Murphy's career plans? “I am pursuing a career in metabolic engineering,” she said. “The technology I hope to develop uses microbes to produce fuels and chemicals from ‘leftovers' such as agricultural waste and non-edible plant materials. This technology will reduce dependency on fossil fuels and provide sustainable energy alternatives."
When asked how society can engage more young women and girls in science, she commented “I think children and adolescents of both genders can benefit from greater exposure to STEM fields. In the media, scientists are often represented as evil, mad, or even downright uncool on TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory. What about a TV show where scientists and engineers are portrayed as heroes?”
The Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology, established in 2011, 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. This could result in career goals that will take them to medical school, veterinary school or graduate program sin any biological sub-discipline, the administrators said. Because insects can be used as model systems to explore virtually any area of biology (population biology; behavior and ecology; biodiversity and evolutionary ecology; agroecology; genetics and molecular biology; biochemistry and physiology; cell biology), faculty in the program can provide research opportunities across the full sweep of biology. More information on the program is at http://ucanr.edu/sites/insectscholars/