- Medical entomologist-geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, assistant professor, will receive the Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology Award
- Doctoral student Erin Taylor Kelly of the Geoffrey Attardo laboratory will receive the Student Leadership Award
- Undergraduate student Gwendolyn "Gwen" Erdosh of the Louie Yang lab will receive the inaugural Dr. Stephen Garczynski Undergraduate Research Scholarship
- The team of doctoral candidate Zachary Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab, captain; doctoral candidate Jill Oberski of the Ward lab; doctoral student Erin “Taylor” Kelly of the Geoffrey Attardo lab; and doctoral student Madison “Madi” Hendrick of the Ian Grettenberger lab will compete in the Entomology Games.
The awards luncheon is at 12:15, April 12.
Geoffrey Attardo is a global expert on vectorborne diseases, and renowned for his groundbreaking work on tsetse flies. Attardo, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology andNematology in 2017 from the Yale School of Public Health's Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, “excels not only as a researcher, but as a teacher, mentor, scientific illustrator, macro photographer,videographer and science communicator,” said UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock in his letter of nomination. (See news story)
Entomology Games. The Entomology Games is a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams. It was formerly known as the Linnaean Games. The preliminary round is from 5 to 6 p.m., April 10. Plans are to hold three rounds with questions from each of the 10 categories: Biological Control, Behavior and Ecology, Economic and Applied Entomology, Medical-Urban-Veterinary Entomology, Morphology and Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology, Systematics and Evolution, Integrated Pest Management and Plant-Insect Interactions, History of Entomology, and Entomology in Popular Culture. (See UC Davis news story)
The final round is from 8 to 10 p.m., April 11. Both the championship team and the runner-up team will represent PBESA at the Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting, Nov. 13-16 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Last year's national champion was the University of Hawaii, which edged Texas A&M University.
UC Davis has scored three national championships since 2015. In 2018, the University of California team won the national championship, defeating Texas A&M. The team included captain Ralph Washington Jr., then a UC Berkeley graduate student with a bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Davis; doctoral students Brendon Boudinot, Jill Oberski and Zachary Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab, and doctoral student Emily Bick of the Christian Nansen lab.
UC Davis won the national competition in both 2016 and 2015, defeating the University of Georgia in 2016, and the University of Florida in 2015.
A number of other UC Davis faculty and students will participate in the PBESA meeting. (See schedule.)
PBESA encompasses 11 Western states, parts of Canada and Mexico and several U.S. territories.
- In the United States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawai'i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
- U.S. Territories: American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Midway Islands, Wake Island
- In Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Yukon
- In Mexico: Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Sonora
UC Davis received three awards:
- Medical entomologist-geneticist Geoffrey Attardo received the Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology Award. (See news story)
- Doctoral student Erin Taylor Kelly of the Attardo lab won the Student Leadership Award (See news story)
- Undergraduate entomology student Gwen Erdosh of the Louie Yang lab and a member of the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology, won the inaugural Dr. Stephen Garczynski Undergraduate Research Scholarship (See news story)
The branch encompasses 11 Western states, parts of Canada and Mexico and several U.S. territories.
In the United States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawai'i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
U.S. Territories: American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Midway Islands, Wake Island
In Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Yukon
In Mexico: Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Sonora
Congratulations to all the winners!
Kelly will be honored at an awards luncheon during the annual PBESA meeting, set April 10-13 in Santa Rosa. The branch encompasses 11 Western states, parts of Canada and Mexico and several U.S. territories.
Kelly, who joined the Attardo lab in 2018, is the two-term president of the UC Davis Equity in STEM and Entrepreneurship (ESTEME) and serves as the vice president of the Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA).
"She excels in leadership, as well as in research, academics and public service," wrote Steve Nadler, professor and chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, in his letter of nomination. Known as Taylor, she "is an important role model, sharing her enthusiasm for entomology and other sciences with the public, and eagerly supporting undergraduate students and others on their paths to scientific careers."
Taylor drew strong support from doctoral candidate Jill Oberski, president of EGSA and an active member of ESTEME; ESTEME past president Alexus Roberts, and ESTEME colleague Sophie Zhu. The organization supports greater equity and inclusion in science, helping help low-income, underrepresented, non-traditional students face and overcome the overwhelming barriers in reaching their goals. They also organize and coordinate activities for K-12 students and undergraduates, while also providing professional development events for fellow members.
Helping Fellow Graduate Students. Taylor's leadership activities in EGSA include collaborating with her peers to provide resources to support incoming students. Each year she collects information about awards they can apply for, and the courses that need teaching assistants. "She surveys students on their cost-of-living needs, and works with our administration to secure the assistance they need," wrote Nadler. "She continually shares information related to living in Davis and thriving in graduate school." Since 2019, Kelly has helped the EGSA coordinate the department's UC Davis Picnic Day activities, leading the EGSA committee in 2020-21. She also serves on the UC Davis Graduate Admissions Committee.
Taylor's leadership activities in EGSA include collaborating with her EGSA peers to provide resources to support incoming students. Each year she collects information about awards they can apply for, and the courses that need teaching assistants. "She surveys students on their cost-of-living needs, and works with our administration to secure the assistance they need," wrote Nadler. "She continually shares information related to living in Davis and thriving in graduate school." In addition, she is the EGSA coordinator of the department's UC Davis Picnic Day activities and serves on the UC Davis Graduate Admissions Committee.
Kelly won a coveted first-place award at the Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting last November with her poster, “Metabolic Snapshot: Using Metabolomics to Compare Near-Wild and Colonized Aedes aegypti.” She has been instrumental in teaching the graduate student offering of ENT 010 (Natural History of Insects).
Her major professor, medical entomologist and geneticist Geoffrey Attardo, praises her strong leadership, her excellence as a doctoral student and her strong leadership role in his lab. "She is dedicated, self-motivated, compassionate, enthusiastic, confident, and demonstrates deep-rooted integrity in how she goes about her work and her interactions with colleagues and students," Attardo wrote in his letter of recommendation. "Within the lab, Taylor plays a strong leadership role, critical to the mentorship of undergraduate researchers who join the lab. Taylor greatly helps assist students with training in experimental design and execution; reading and interpretation of the scientific literature; training in data analysis; and scientific writing. Her mentorship manifested in the publication of a first- author manuscript (van Schoor et al.) by a talented undergraduate researcher in my group. The work explores the relationship between larval dietary composition and adult outcomes in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Taylor is always willing to help lab members with their projects and plays a key role in maintaining the lab's welcoming atmosphere and research successes."
People-Motivated. Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, the faculty chair of the department's Picnic Day activities, says that "Taylor ranks among the most people-motivated graduate students I have had the pleasure to work with.”
“Setting aside for the moment Taylor's top flight academic background and qualifications, I have found her to be the ideal collaborator, very cooperative, consistently cheerful, perfectly dependable, and delightful to work with,” Kimsey related. “Competition may or may not select for exceptional researchers, but often selects for difficult characters. Taylor almost uniquely combines high productivity and intense curiosity with a delightful personality, an ideal combination to have in a program in which people must survive with each other. She has been an excellent graduate student, very gregarious, conscientious, with an exceptional ability to work with persons of any sort. She ranks among the most people-motivated graduate students I have had the pleasure to work with.”
UC Davis medical entomologist Anthony Cornel, who leads the Mosquito Control Research Laboratory in Parlier, works with Taylor on insecticide resistance in mosquitoes. “Taylor's PhD project is challenging as she endeavors to tease apart the biochemical and genetic factors that cause resistance to some commonly used insecticides to control Aedes aegypti," Cornel wrote. "Ae. aegypti is considered the second most dangerous insect worldwide because of its role in transmission of dengue, yellow fever, Zika and Chikungunya viruses which cause considerable morbidity and mortality. Hence, it is an important organism to study especially to eventually improve measures to control this mosquito."
Critical Thinker. "Taylor has done very well as a PhD student, so far, having 4 publications related to Ae. aegypti, 3 publications on webspinners (Embioptera) and 2 publications related to astrobiology," Cornel related. “My interactions with her convince me that she is a critical thinker and questions everything before undertaking tasks and experiments. These are attributes of a young scientist that will stand her in good stead to become excellent in academia. Almost all successful academics think out of the box and can work independently and collegially. She works with several other graduate and research assistants, and everyone likes her kindness, honesty, and helpfulness. Taylor's interests so far have mostly related to entomology systematics, genetics, and metabolomics. She has expressed her desire to remain as an entomologist beyond her graduate studies. She will always be a wonderful ambassador for entomology and her diverse knowledge of disciplines from systematics to behavior to protein and DNA studies makes her an excellent entomologist indeed.”
Taylor holds a bachelor of science degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry, from Santa Clara University, where she served as president of the campuswide Biology Club and led STEM projects, encouraging and guiding underrepresented students to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)./span>
Attardo, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2017 from the Yale School of Public Health's Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, “excels not only as a researcher, but as a teacher, mentor, scientific illustrator, macro photographer, videographer and science communicator,” said UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock in his letter of nomination.
The Attardo lab monitors the dynamics of vector insects at the levels of physiology, population genetics and environmental interactions.
“I have known Geoff personally since July 2017 and I have always admired his scientific expertise, his unbridled enthusiasm, his many talents, and his scores of accomplishments,” wrote Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the entomology department and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “He leads a highly successful research group that focuses on the molecular biology, biochemistry and physiology of medically important insects. His work, encompassing his research, teaching/mentorship, public service and outreach, brings international recognition to our department, college, university, the UC system and the entomological world.”
Eleven Western States. PBESA will recognize Attardo at an April 12 awards luncheon during its annual meeting, set April 10-13 in the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country. (link to https://www.entsoc.org/membership/branches/pacific/meeting.) PBESA is comprised of 11 Western states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming), parts of Canada and Mexico, and seven U. S. territories. (Link to https://www.entsoc.org/membership/branches/pacific)
Attardo received a Ruth Kirshstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the molecular and biochemical physiology of tsetse fly lactation. His results “broadened our understanding of the physiology of live birth and lactation,” said Hammock, adding that his work “was the first to bring to bear state-of-the-art/high-throughput genetic, molecular and biochemical techniques.”
The co-principal investigator of a five-year NIH R01 grant, Attardo led a multinational collaboration resulting in the production, annotation and functional analysis of the first tsetse fly genome sequence.
Attardo is also a talented macro photographer and scientific illustrator, Hammock noted. Science editors featured his tsetse photo on their cover and used his illustrations throughout the article to show the tsetse's unique physiology. Attardo's work also drew high-profile coverage twice in the New York Times.
Attardo's current work focuses on defining the mating physiology of tsetse flies. He uses X-ray based MicroCT scanning to generate high resolution 3-dimensional images of tsetse reproductive tissues to understand the morphological specializations that enable live birth and lactation in tsetse flies. (See Attardo lab)
Attardo collaborated with the KQED (Public Broadcasting Service) “Deep Look” team to produce a YouTube video featuring macro footage and illustrations of tsetse live birth, blood feeding, and mating. The video, winner of a 2020 Northern California Emmy Award, has scored 6.2 million views, as of Jan. 4, 2022.
In a letter of support, molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu, vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, wrote in part:
“Dr. Attardo's internationally recognized research program on the physiology and genomics of insect vectors is creative, significant, and always of the highest quality and rigor. His research program seamlessly integrates fundamental mechanistic work and applied research to study physiology and behavior of insects that vector devastating human diseases. His teaching and mentoring program is innovative, inclusive, and he is fiercely supportive of his trainees and junior colleagues. Finally, he is passionate about outreach and extension because he understands the importance and value of transferring technologies from his lab to the field and extending information to benefit stakeholders locally and internationally.”
Very Effective Teaching Style. For the past two years, Chiu and Attardo have been co-teaching an undergraduate animal biology course on “Applications, Social and Ethical Issues in Animal Biology.” Chiu praised his ability to “engage the students” and his “very effective teaching style in helping students build critical thinking skills and confidence.”
Professor Immo Hansen of the Department of Biology, Institute of Applied Biosciences at New Mexico State University, echoed the praise. “Geoff is a prolific scholar with more than 55 publications and an h-index of 30 a value that one might expect for a full professor in the entomology field (my own h-index is 29). His early work on mosquito regulation of gene expression and nutritional signaling pathways as well as his later works on Tsetse genomics, nutrition, milk production, and symbiont interactions are highly original and represent significant increases in our knowledge in insect reproductive physiology.”
“He led the effort to sequence and annotate the genome of the Tsetse fly which resulted in a Science paper,” Hansen pointed out. “Geoff is a leading expert in the field of the molecular basis of insect reproduction (of tsetse flies) which is reflected by the large number of invited presentations he has given over the years. His truly innovative research in the field puts him at the forefront of researchers in his discipline.”
Erdosh will receive a $1000 award and waived registration for the PBESA annual meeting April 10-13 in Santa Rosa.
The award memorializes a research geneticist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Wapato, Wash., with “an unmatched passion for mentoring undergraduate students in their research,” PBESA announced. Garczynski (1960-2019) specialized in the molecular genetics of codling moths and other tree fruit pests.
Erdosh is a researcher in the lab of community ecologist Louie Yang, a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology professor and a co-founder and co-director of RSPIB. “Gwen has been particularly motivated to examine the effects of smoke on insect olfaction and behavior, and recently received a Provost's Undergraduate Fellowship (PUF) to support this work,” wrote Professor Yang in his letter of recommendation. She is developing “a Y-tube olfactometer apparatus to test some of the hypotheses she has been developing. She has been amazingly creative, innovative and independent in this work, and I'm excited to see what she learns.”
“Gwen has the skills and motivation to excel in research,” Yang noted. “She is extraordinarily knowledgeable about insect diversity and has strong and persistent interest in research. The project that Gwen is focused on is of both applied and fundamental importance, and her latest iteration of this experiment offers a good first step towards assessing the ecological importance of wildfire smoke for insects.”
Gwentomologist. Erdosh, known as “Gwentomologist” on Instagram, with 24,000 followers, anticipates receiving her bachelor's degree in 2023.
The awards packet required a two-page essay outlining the applicant's current research and future career aspirations, and a letter of nomination from a research mentor or professor. Judges scored the applicants on such attributes as energy, passion, innovation and initiative, creativity and originality an potential impact.
In her essay, Erdosh wrote that getting accepted into RSPIB and becoming a member of the Yang lab “has given me the opportunity to get critical research experience as an undergrad. My current research project aims to determine whether an insect's ability to locate food is hindered by ambient smoke."
Gwen, a 2018 graduate ofLos Gatos High School, Santa Clara County, decided at age 12 to pursue a career in entomology. She attended aBioBoot camp hosted by theBohart Museum of Entomology and then at age 16, interned with JasonDombroskie at Cornell University. Those "experiences with lab work and fieldwork led me to decide that I wanted to go into research." Her work included identifying microlepidoptra in the family Tortricidae; sampling monarch butterflies for Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) spores; catching and tagging the gray petaltail dragonfly (Petalurid) at a local state park; and collecting, identifying and presenting moths for a Moth Night program at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.
Costa Rico Internship. At age 17, Gwen completed a five-week internship in the summer of 2018 at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens in Costa Rica, where she studied insects, conducted tours, and cared for the arthropods in the insectarium
Erdosh enrolled in the UC Davis entomology program in 2019. "I am interested in both insect ecology and systematics, and I plan on going to graduate school for a PhD in entomology," Erdosh wrote in her essay. "I aspire to be a professor who not only carries out unique and meaningful research, but is also a true educator and role model for students, inspiring young scientists to pursue their ambitions and remain curious about the natural world. More specifically about entomology, I want to show people the beauty and peculiarity of arthropods; I love public outreach and want to spread my passion for insects to others. While I did not know Dr. Stephen Garczynski personally, I would like to think that he was this kind of person, and that I would have looked up to him, as I do my own mentor Louie Yang."
Erdosh launched her Instagram account in 2013 to share her passion for moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera). “Back then, it was one of only a few accounts that focused on such a niche interest," she said in a recent interview. On her account, she posts her macro images, with detailed captions about the featured insect. "My goal is to not only teach others, but also learn a lot myself. I also post fun and engaging videos to encourage others to pursue entomology. Many times, people have told me that my page helped them decide that they wanted to pursue entomology as a career! I love being able to spread the love of insects to others, and will continue to be active on my page.”
Additionally, she maintains a YouTube account as “gwentomologist.”