This makes the third year that a UC Davis-based team has won the national championship.
"In the final, UC defeated Texas A&M (graduate students), 140-20," said Joe Rominiecki, manager of communications for the Entomological Society of America (ESA). "UC defeated the University of Florida 110-100 in the semifinal round. In the preliminary round, UC defeated the Texas A&M undergrad team."
The Linnaean Games, launched in 1983, are lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competitions on entomological facts and played by winners of the ESA branch competitions. The teams score points by correctly answering random questions.
"Before us, there was a sudden death double overtime game (Texas A&M grads vs University of Delaware) which was really exciting," Boudinot said.
Griebenow recalled that among the questions the UC team correctly answered in the championship round:
Question: The Passandridae are a family of beetles. What is unusual about their larvae?
Answer: The larvae are ectoparasitoids of wood-boring insects.
Each ESA branch hosts a Linnaean game competition at its annual meeting. The winning team and the runner-up both advance to the national competition. The national preliminaries took place Sunday, Nov. 11 while the finals got underway at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
Members of the winning team will each receive a gold medal and and a plaque for the team's department.
To get to the national finals, the UC team won the regional championship hosted by the Pacific Branch of ESA at its meeting June 10-13 in Reno. They defeated Washington State University in a sudden death overtime to win the title.
The UC Berkeley-UC Davis Linnaean Games Team, comprised of graduate students from UC Berkeley and UC Davis, won the championship at the regional Linnaean Games hosted by the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA) at its meeting June 10-13 in Reno.
The Linnaean Games are a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams. The teams score points by correctly answering random questions.
The team, captained by Ralph Washington Jr., a graduate student in public policy at UC Berkeley, (formerly a graduate student at UC Davis), included UC Davis doctoral students Brendon Boudinot, Zachary Griebenow and Jill Oberski, all of the Phil Ward lab, and Emily Bick of the Christian Nansen lab.
The UC Berkeley-UC Davis team defeated Washington State University (WSU) in a sudden death overtime to win the title.
“Davis vs WSU was the final game of the night,” related Boudinot. “This went into Sudden Death as the teams were tied 90-90 after several UC Davis interrupts reduced their point total. We came back from DOWN to tie at about 15th question, and the sudden death question was specifically selected to be challenging. The key details were ‘Dutch ... microscopist from the 17th century.' WSU buzzed in on the interrupt and stated "Leeuwenhoek," which was incorrect, leading to their elimination. The correct answer was Swammerdam."
Some of the questions asked at this year's PBESA Linnaean Games, as related by Ralph Washington Jr.:
Question: Name the fungal agent that grows naturally in soils throughout the world and causes white muscardine disease and is commercially packaged as a biological insecticide for the control of termites, whiteflies, and other insect pests?
Answer: Beauveria bassiana
Question: Name the process through which spiders use silk to fly and disperse.
Question: Where are you most likely to encounter a rheophilic insect?
Answer: In moving streams.
The UC Davis Linnaean team, captained by Washington, won the national championship in both 2015 and 2016. Boudinot served as a member of both championship teams. Bick was a member of the 2016 team, which also was comprised of graduate students Jéssica Gillung and Ziad Khouri, who study with Lynn Kimsey, director the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
The list of national champions over the last five years:
1st Place: Texas A&M
2nd Place: The Ohio State
1st Place: University of California, Davis
2nd Place: University of Georgia
1st Place: University of California, Davis
2nd Place: University of Florida
1st Place: North Carolina State University
2nd Place: University of Florida
1st Place: University of California- Riverside
2nd Place: Mississippi State University
The Pacific Branch of ESA is comprised of 11 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawai'i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming), plus U.S. territories (American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Midway Islands and Wake Island) and parts of Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and Yukon) and parts of Mexico (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa and Sonora).
Founded in 1889, the 7000-member ESA is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and individuals in related disciplines. Its members are affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, pest management professionals, and hobbyists.
Those were two of the questions asked of the three-member team from the Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of California, Davis, when they competed in the Linnaean Games at the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America's recent meeting in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
They not only answered those questions correctly but went on to win the branch championship. The UC Davis team--comprised of captain Ralph Washington, Jr., and members Jéssica Gillung, and Brendon Boudinot-- will now compete in November at the national Linnaean Games hosted by the Entomological Society of America (ESA) in Minneapolis.
What's the answer to “What insect family can vector anthrax?” Tabanidae.
What caste of honey bee has the greatest number of ommatidia? The drone, the male honey bee. Ommatidia are the subunits of a compound eye.
The Linnaean Games, named for Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), the father of modern taxonomy, are college bowl-style competitions involving insect science, including entomological facts, insect trivia and noted entomologists. The lively question-and-answer competitions are “an important and entertaining component of the ESA annual meeting,” said Richard Levine, ESA communications program manager.
The university-sponsored student teams, comprised of graduate students and occasionally undergraduate students, challenge one another at the annual ESA branch meetings for the championship and bragging rights. Each ESA branch then funds the champion team to compete in the national Linnaean Games. The runner-up team from each branch also competes in the nationals.
At the Pacific Branch meeting, UC Davis defeated Washington State University (WSU), Pullman, Wash., 125-60 in the finals to win the championship. WSU earlier defeated Utah State University, 80-40, and UC Davis defeated USU 170-30.
As an undergraduate student, Ralph Washington Jr. helped anchor the UC Davis 2010 team that competed in the nationals in San Diego. UC Davis narrowly lost to Ohio State University, which advanced to the finals and then went on to win the championship.
Washington, Gillung and Boudinot are all systematists. Washington, whose major professor is nematologist Steve Nadler, studies mosquitoes; Boudinot studies ants with major professor Phil Ward, and Gillung studies flies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, who directs the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Gillung is co-advised by Shaun Winterton of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Washington, a first-year doctoral student from Sacramento, Calif., and the newly elected president of the UC Davis Graduate Student Association, focuses on how mosquitoes choose to lay their eggs, and how those choices affect their evolution.
Boudinot, a second-year doctoral student from Washington state, is known for his expertise on the morphology of male ants. He is also interested in the biogeography and evolutionary history of ants.
Jessica, a second-year doctoral student from Brazil, is a prominent taxonomist of Diptera (flies), with special emphasis on the diversity and evolution of spider flies, family Acroceridae. Some Acrocerid adults are specialized pollinators, while larvae are internal parasitoids of spiders.
The trio is eagerly looking forward to making the 1900-mile trip from Davis to Minneapolis. Theme of the meeting is “Synergy in Science: Partnering for Solutions.” It will take place Nov. 15-18.
The Pacific Branch of ESA encompasses 11 U.S. states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming); several U.S. territories, including American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands; and parts of Canada and Mexico.
NEWS BRIEF: April 8, 2014
UC Riverside went on to win the championship, defeating Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. Both the winning team and the runner-up team will represent the Pacific Branch at the ESA meeting, Nov. 16-19 in Portland, Ore. The winning ream receives $500 to offset travel expenses. President of the ESA is integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
At the 2013 PBESA meeting, UC Riverside took first, and UC Davis, second.
The 2014 UC Davis team members, advised by Extension specialist Larry Godfrey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who participated in the semi-finals were:
- Matan Shelomi, doctoral student who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey
- Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, doctoral student who studies with major professor Larry Godfrey
- Rei Scampavia, doctoral candidate in the Edwin Lewis and Neal Williams lab
- Alexander Nguyen, an undergraduate student majoring in entomology who is an undergraduate researcher in the Bruce Hammock lab
- Alternate: Danny Klittich, doctoral student who studies with Michael Parrella (Klittich is also president of the Entomologiy Graduate Student Association (EGSA)
In the preliminary competition, Klittich served as a team member with Shelomi, Aghaee, and Nguyen.
The Linnaean Games is a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomology-based facts with four-member teams. Each must be in a degree program (bachelor's, master's or doctorate) or have completed a degree within one year of the contest.
Each team scores points by correctly answering a question posed by the moderator. There are two types of questions: toss-ups and bonuses, with each question worth 10 points.
One of the questions in the preliminary games: "Edward Knipling developed a new insect control technique. What was the insect he worked?"
Answer: "Primarily the screwworm fly with the sterile insect technique (SIT)."
Among the other questions asked of the various teams:
Question: What three hexapod orders comprise the "entognatha?"
Answer: Protura, Collembola and Diplura.
Question: Who is the current ESA President?
Answer: Frank Zalom
Question: What is the Arizona state Insect?
Answer: The two-tailed swallowtail butterfly, Papilio multicaudata
Question: Who wrote the poem "To A Louse," which opens with this stanza:
"Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho', faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place."
Answer: Robert Burns.
UC Riverside correctly answered the Arizona state insect question in the UCR-WSU championship match. UCR also answered the entognatha question, although UC Davis knew the answer, too.
The Zalom question was asked during another two teams' match.
The Burns question was a bonus for UC Davis, but the team did not know the answer.