Her research expertise involves molecular genetics of animal behavior, circadian rhythm biology, and posttranslational regulation of proteins.
By using Drosophila melanogaster as a model to study the mechanisms that regulate circadian clocks, Chiu has discovered new insights into the function of key proteins that control animal circadian clocks. In particular, she has identified new mechanisms that slow down or speed up the internal clock of fruit flies and mechanisms that allow the internal clock to interpret food as timing cues--research that could help lead the way to alleviate human circadian disorders.
“Dr. Chiu is a prolific, phenomenal and talented scholar whose research is innovative, cutting-edge and groundbreaking,” said Helene Dillard, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, describes her as “a rising star.”
In announcing the Chancellor's Fellows, Chancellor Gary S. May said: “They've clearly made a mark both at UC Davis and within the academy generally. I have no doubt their contributions will continue to grow.” Each will retain the title for five years and receive a prize of $25,000 earmarked for research or scholarly work. Private donations to the UC Davis Annual Fund and the UC Davis Parents' Fund finance the program.
Chiu joined the Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2010 as an assistant professor and advanced to associate professor and vice chair in 2016. She received her bachelor's degree in biology and music from Mount Holyoke College, Mass., and her doctorate in molecular genetics in 2004 from New York University, New York. She served as a postdoctoral fellow from 2004 to 2010 in chronobiology (biological rhythms and internal clocks)--molecular genetics and biochemistry--at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Major grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation fund Chiu's biological rhythms research.
In addition to her research in biological rhythms, Chiu also aims to leverage her expertise in genomics to address key issues in global food security. She is the principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on six grant awards from the State of California to research various fruit crops damaged by the spotted-wing Drosophila. At the time of her nomination, her publication record included 41 journal publications and book chapters, one U.S. Patent, and more than 3,235 journal citations (Google Scholar).
Chiu targets the spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, first detected in North America in central California in August 2008. A native of Southeast Asia, the invasive species has already caused billions of dollars in damage to U.S. agriculture. Chiu took the lead role in sequencing the genome and is now heavily involved in finding new and more sustainable strategies to control the pest.
Chiu instigated the drive to obtain genomic data prior to its adaptation to a variety of local environments, which can differ in climate, pesticide use, natural enemies and types of fruits available. She played a leading role in establishing the SpottedWingFlyBase, a publicly available web portal documenting a variety of genomic databases for this species.
Chiu co-founded and co-directs (with professor Jay Rosenheim and associate professor Louie Yang) the campuswide Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology, launched in 2011 to provide undergraduates with a closely mentored research experience in biology. The program's goal is 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.
Under her tutelage, many of Chiu's students are first authors of publications in prestigious journals. She continues to provide guidance and advice to undergraduate and graduate students and those who have embarked on their careers.
Former UC Davis graduate student Kelly Hamby, now assistant professor/Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, said Chiu “is so generous of her time and advice. Her office is always open to students, whether they are visiting high school students, undergraduates, or graduate students, her own students or someone else's. She carefully guides students throughout their experiments, directly providing technical training—side by side at the bench—while developing their critical thinking and communication skills. Joanna not only imparts excellent analytic and laboratory molecular skills to her students, but also commits to providing ongoing professional advice and development. Joanna's mentorship continues long after graduate and she leaves a lasting impression on students.”
“Joanna's teaching philosophy is clearly targeted towards the professional development of her students, modeling assignments on the activities of practicing scientists,” Hamby added.
The previous recipient from the Department of Entomology and Nematology was pollination ecologist Neal Williams, now a professor.
See list of this year's Chancellor's Fellows on UC Davis Dateline.
They are Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and a past president of the Entomological Society of America (ESA); Walter Leal, distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and a past chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Joanna Chiu, associate professor and vice chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. More than 2000 attendees are registered.
On behalf of ESA, Zalom is co-organizing and co-chairing a joint conference with Antonio Panizzi, a past president and international delegate of the Entomological Society of Brazil. That event, to take place the day before the XXVII Congresso Brasileiro and X Congresso Latino-Americano meeting, will involve developing a “Grand Challenge Agenda for Entomology in South America.
Zalom will speak on “The American Experience with the Grand Challenge Agenda in Entomology.” In addition, ESA president Michael Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will provide an update on the 2018 ESA annual meeting, set Nov. 11-14 in Vancouver, B. C. Speakers also will include the presidents of the entomological societies of Argentina, Peru and Brazil.
Leal, a native of Brazil, will present the opening lecture of the joint conference of the XXVII Brazilian Congress and X Latin American Congress of Entomology on “Insect Vectors: Science with Applications in Agriculture and Medicine,” on Sunday, Sept. 2. This will be his fourth opening lecture—a record—at the Brazilian Congresses of Entomology (2004 in Gramado; 2008 in Uberlandia; and 2014 in Goiania).
Both Zalom, an integrated pest management specialist, and Chiu, who specializes in molecular genetics of animal behavior, will speak on their research at the joint meeting. Zalom will deliver a plenary address on “Drosophila suzukii in the United States” on Sept. 5 and Chiu will keynote a symposium on Sept. 3; her lecture is titled “Circadian Clock Research Applied to Agriculture and Public Health.” She also will give a second lecture: "Drosophila as an Insect Model" on Sept. 3.
His presentation, “Common Errors that Bedevil Biomedical Research and How to Fix Them,” will take place from 4:10 to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow the lecture.
“Richard Harris has written a very important and unsettling book based on his careful investigation of the biomedical research enterprise. We can expect an intriguing and thought provoking lecture,” said Mark Winey, distinguished professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and dean of the College of Biological Sciences, UC Davis, who is hosting the journalist.
American taxpayers spend $30 billion annually funding biomedical research. “We all rely on biomedical research for new treatments and cures,” Harris says. “But this critical enterprise is not in the best of health itself. Most experimental treatments fail. One reason is that the underlying research does not hold up to scrutiny. Scientists find that far too often that they are unable to repeat experiments that other researchers have carried out.”
By some estimates, half of the results from these studies can't be replicated elsewhere—the science is simply wrong, Harris asserts. (See NPR)
The award-winning science journalist has covered science, medicine and the environment for NPR Radio since 1986. He took a year-long sabbatical to explore the issues facing biomedical research. Rigor Mortis, published in April 2017 by Basic Books, is his first book.
Harris, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, holds a bachelor's degree in biology from UC Santa Cruz, graduating with highest honors and serving as a commencement speaker. He began his journalism career as a reporter for the Livermore (Calif.) Tri-Valley Herald, discovering that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was working on a new generation of nuclear weapons—ones that use nuclear explosives to generate energy beams. Scientists at the time, he wrote, contemplated using the weapons in space to shoot down incoming missiles.
He later joined the San Francisco Examiner as a science writer. He is a past president of the National Association of Science Writers and the Northern California Science Writers' Association, and co-founded the DC Science Writers Association.
His work covers everything from oil spills to the hazards of smoking to climate change. In 2010, he revealed the U.S. Government was vastly underestimating the amount of oil spilling from the Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. He shared a Peabody award with colleague Rebecca Perl for their 1994 reports about the tobacco industry's secret documents, which showed that company scientists were well aware of the hazards of smoking.
He has also reported on climate change, traveling from the South Pole and the Great Barrier Reef to the Arctic Ocean. The American Geophysical Union awarded him with a Presidential Citation for Science and Society.
In 2014, he turned his attention back to biomedical research and took a year-long sabbatical at Arizona State University's Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes to research and write Rigor Mortis.
The Tracy and Ruth Storer Lectureship in the Life Sciences, established in 1960, is the considered the most prestigious of the endowed seminars at UC Davis. The lectureship is funded through a gift from Professor Tracy I. Storer and Dr. Ruth Risdon Storer to bring eminent biologists to the UC Davis campus.
Past Storer Lectures have included Nobel laureates, members of the National Academy of Science and acclaimed authors in the life sciences and medicine.
(Editor's Note: Joanna Chiu, associate professor and vice chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is coordinating the Storer Lectureships in Life Sciences for the academic year. She may be reached at email@example.com)
The Vosshall laboratory studies the molecular neurobiology of mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes require a blood meal to complete egg development, she explains. "In carrying out this innate behavior, mosquitoes spread dangerous infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika, Chikungunya and yellow fever."
She further explains: "Humans attract mosquitoes via multiple sensory cues including emitted body odor, heat, and carbon dioxide in the breath. The mosquito perceives differences in these cues, both between and within species, to determine which animal or human to target for blood-feeding. We have developed CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing in the Aedes aegypti mosquito with the goal of understand how sensory cues are integrated by the female mosquito to lead to host-seeking behavior."
"Some of the questions we are currently addressing are: Why are some people more attractive to mosquitoes than others? How do insect repellents work? How are multiple sensory cues integrated in the mosquito brain to elicit innate behaviors? How do female mosquitoes select a suitable body of water to lay their eggs? The long-term goal of all of our work is to understand how behaviors emerge from the integration of sensory input with internal physiological states."
The seminar, open to all interested persons, is sponsored by the College of Biological Sciences and the Storer Life Sciences Endowment. Host is molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
At the Rockefeller University, Vosshall is the Robin Chemers Neustein Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior and director of the Kavli Neural Systems Institute. She is known for her work on the genetic basis of chemosensory behavior in both insects and humans.
Her notable contributions to science include the discovery of insect odorant receptors, and the clarification of general principles regarding their function, expression and the connectivity of the sensory neurons that express them to primary processing centers in the brain. She founded the Rockefeller University Smell Study in 2004 with the goal of understanding the mechanisms by which odor stimuli are converted to olfatory percepts.
Vosshall received her bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Columbia University, New York, in 1987 and her doctorate from Rockefeller University in 1993. Following postdoctoral work at Columbia University, she joined the Rockefeller faculty in 2000.
She is the recipient of the 2008 Lawrence C. Katz Prize from Duke University, the 2010 DART/NYU Biotechnology Award, and the 2011 Gill Young Investigator Award. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
For more information on the seminar, contact host Joanna Chiu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is one of the best in the world, according to information released today (April 3) by the Times Higher Education's Center for World University Rankings.
The rankings show UC Davis as No. 7 in the world, scoring 89.88 of a possible 100. Of the top 10, two are in California. UC Riverside is ranked as No. 2. The list:
- University of Florida, 100 score
- University of California, Riverside, 95.23
- Cornell University, 91.95
- Kansas State University, 91.29
- North Carolina State University, 90.88
- Michigan State University, 90.74
- University of California, Davis, 89.88
- University of Georgia, 88.98
- Nanjing Agricultural University, China, 86.74
- University of São Paulo, Brazil, 86.74
Performance indicators are grouped into five areas: Teaching (the learning environment); research (volume, income and reputation); citations (research influence); international outlook (staff students and research) and industry outcome (knowledge transfer).
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is led by chair Steve Nadler and vice chair Joanna Chiu.
According to the website:
"The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016 list the best global universities and are the only international university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions - teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook."
"The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments. This year's ranking includes 800 universities from 70 different countries, compared with the 400 universities from 41 countries in last year's table. View the World University Rankings methodology here."
Overall, UC Davis scored No. 1 in the world in the subject, agricultural economics and policy, with a 100 score.
UC Davis rankings by subject:
- Agriculture, Multidisciplinary, No. 3
- Agronomy, No. 7
- Behavioral Sciences, No. 7
- Biodiversity Conservation, No. 3
- Biology, No. 10
- Chemistry, Applied, No. 9
- Ecology, No. 3
- Entomology, No. 7
- Environmental Sciences, No. 7
- Evolutionary Biology, No. 10
- Horticulture, No. 2
- Nutrition and Dietetics, No. 7
- Plant Sciences, No. 3
- Soil Science, No. 6
- Toxicology, No. 3
- Veterinary Sciences, No. 3
- Zoology, No. 5