- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The award-winning UC Berkeley-UC Davis Linnaean Games Team will vie for the national championship at the Entomological Society of America's annual meeting, set Nov. 11-14 in the Vancouver Convention Center, Vancouver, B.C.
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.
The UC Berkeley-UC Davis team is comprised of captain Ralph Washington Jr., a UC Davis entomology graduate who is studying public policy at UC Berkeley; UC Davis doctoral students Brendon Boudinot, Jill Oberski and Zachary Griebenow, all of Phil Ward lab, specializing in ants; and UC Davis doctoral student Emily Bick of the Christian Nansen lab, a lab that specializes in insect ecology, integrated pest management and remote sensing.
The UC Davis Linnaean Games Team, captained by Washington, won the national championship twice, defeating the University of Georgia in 2016 and the University of Florida in 2015. Boudinot served on both championship teams, and Bick, the 2016 team.
Last year UC Davis did not compete. Texas A&M won the national championship, with Ohio State University finishing second.
The national preliminaries will begin at noon Sunday, Nov. 11 while the finals will get 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.
The UC Berkeley-UC Davis team won the regional championship at the Linnaean Games 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.
Among the questions asked at the regional competition:
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.
Theme of the ESA meeting is “Sharing Insect Science Globally.” This year it is a joint meeting with the Entomological Societies of Canada and British Columbia.
The 7000-member ESA, founded in 1889, is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and individuals in related disciplines. It is affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government.
Videos of the championship matches:
All videos of the national Linnaean Games championships are posted here.
Entomology Today, published by ESA, posted a preview of the 2018 Linnaean Games. Author Emily Justus, a graduate student in entomology, Ohio State University, interview some of the participants. She wrote: "Another common thread between teams is that they believe having a well-rounded team gives them an edge. Zach Griebenow, a member of UC Davis/Berkeley team, attributes their success to the members of his team being broadly knowledgeable, and he says he believes that all successful teams have this in common."