The 10 Fellows were announced today.
Hoover, who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in June, 1997, studied with major professors Sean Duffey (1943-1997) and Bruce Hammock. Hoover joined the PSU faculty as an assistant professor in 1998, achieving full professor in 2010.
Hoover's areas of expertise include biology and ecology of invasive species, insect-microbial symbiosis, tritrophic interactions, insect virology, and pollination of forest trees.
She is active in PSU's Center for Chemical Ecology, Center for Pollinator Research, and the Insect Biodiversity Center.
“Hoover is internationally recognized for uncovering detailed mechanisms of how phytochemicals reduce mortality by baculoviruses through physiological impacts on the larva's midgut (epithelial cells and peritrophic matrix,” said nominator Gary Felton, professor and head of the PSU Department of Entomology. Hoover and her co-advisors “patented baculovirus formulation additives that counteract these physiological effects, and thus increase the sensitivity of larvae to infections.”
“Kelli was a delight to have in the laboratory at UC Davis,” said Hammock, now a UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “She started her Ph.D. at Davis at an exciting time when we were trying to move recombinant baculoviruses into practical agriculture as green pesticides. Among the laboratories of Sean Duffey, Susumu Maeda, Kevin Heinz and extramural collaborators around the world, we had an exciting critical mass ranging, including virology, peptide chemistry, scorpion venoms, genetic engineering, pest management and others.”
“Kelli's interest in tritrophic interactions and her outgoing and engaging personality were just what was needed to pull the team together,” said Hammock, a 2010 Fellow. “As one would expect, Kelli's talents in science and leadership have served her well at Penn State. There her baculovirus work transitioned into a broader program in gypsy moth control and the invasion of the Asian longhorned beetle provided an opportunity to look at gut symbionts. Every project that Kelli touches seems to yield exciting results with practical implications. I am thrilled that the ESA has recognized what a star she is in our field.”
UC Davis doctoral alumnus Bryony Bonning, a professor at the University of Florida and a 2013 ESA Fellow, commented that “Kelli is so deserving of this award.”
“I worked with Kelli for two, delightful years at UC Davis, and was particularly impressed by the number of undergraduate students that she managed to mentor at the bench!” Bonning said. “Since then, she has established a stellar research program that has recently focused on both the fundamental biology and management solutions for invasive pests including Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and spotted lantern fly. Analysis of ALB semiochemicals resulted in a blend now sold by two companies and used in North America and Europe for ALB management."
“In collaboration with engineers, she has also spearheaded development of a method to prevent introduction of invasive species in the wood packing associated with international shipments,” Bonning noted. “This dielectric heating technology, used to treat and kill insects hidden in the wood packing, is at the stage of commercial equipment prototype. These examples reflect both the interdisciplinary breadth of Kelli's research program and the seamless melding of science to address fundamental questions that lead to practical solutions. This breadth of scope and ability to identify commercially useful components of the system is a relatively rare phenotype among entomologists! Further, Kelli is driven to engage the necessary parties (scientists, stakeholders, policy makers) toward implementation of strategies to prevent or manage the impact of invasive species on U.S. agriculture."
In his nomination letter, Felton, a 2014 ESA Fellow, said that Hoover excels in research, teaching, and service. “There are three key attributes that stand out in Dr. Hoover's research contributions: interdisciplinary, collaborative, and integrative,” he wrote. “Hoover's program encompasses research, education, outreach and service related to the biology of and solutions for invasive species threats, in forest, ornamental, and agricultural systems. She integrates basic and applied research in multi-trophic interactions, microbial symbioses, invasion biology, and insect physiology.”
For 19 years, Hoover has collaborated with industrial engineers and national and international regulatory agencies “to develop a novel technology (patents pending) to reduce the risk of pathways that can introduce alien forest pests through international trade,” Felton wrote. “She has used her studies to create a platform for education and training of a diverse group of undergraduates, graduate students, and post-graduate scholars. Since Hoover's interdisciplinary approach allows her to interact with and serve as a bridge between multiple disciplines and diverse stakeholders, she has initiated broad networking opportunities for members of these communities by organizing and leading multi-disciplinary research teams, symposia, and international conferences.”
Asian Longhorned Beetle, Gypsy Moth
“The vast majority of Hoover's studies focuses on basic and applied research on invasive species, such as the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and gypsy moth and most recently the spotted lanternfly,” Felton wrote. “Hoover and collaborators investigated semiochemical communication in ALB in an effort to help regulatory agencies detect and monitor ALB in the field, especially at low densities. Hoover and colleagues took the male-produced volatile sex pheromone (discovered by USDA/ARS) and conducted years of basic lab and field research to produce a commercially available ALB lure (pheromones and kairomones) and trapping system, which primarily captures virgin females. The blend developed by Hoover and her team is sold by two major pheromone companies and has been used in North America, Germany, Britain, Switzerland and Italy. She and collaborators also characterized behavioral responses to a putative female-produced trail pheromone that elicits following behavior by males.”
Hoover is also heavily involved in preventing the introduction of invasive species. Her research draws support from governmental grant programs, commodity groups and the private sector. She is currently the principal investigator or co-PI on grants totaling $10 million, with $1.62 million directly supporting her program, Felton said, adding that she has actively collaborated with researchers in Europe, China, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
Felton described her as “an effective educator and mentor of the next generation of scientists.”
She has mentored 43 undergraduates, 11 PhD and 10 masters students, and 13 postdoctoral scholars, “many of whom have received prestigious awards and fellowships.”
High Impact Interdisciplinary Research
“While making new discoveries through basic research, she continues to strive to apply the outcomes of that research by actively engaging other scientists, stakeholder groups, and policymakers within Pennsylvania, nationally, and globally to make a difference -- to prevent and/or manage the consequences of invasive species on our ecosystems,” Felton wrote. “Her ability to conduct high impact interdisciplinary research and integrate transformational and translation research is truly outstanding.”
Born in Lubbock, Texas, but raised in the south San Francisco area,Kelli received her bachelor of science degree in 1979 from UC Berkeley, with honors, majoring in the biology of natural resources. She obtained her master's degree in biology, with an emphasis on entomology, from San Jose State University in 1992 before joining the doctoral program at UC Davis. After a year as a President's Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley, she joined the faculty in the Department of Entomology at PSU in 1998.
Active in ESA since 1996, Hoover has judged student competitions at 10 national meetings. She has organized numerous national or branch meeting symposia and served as a subject editor for Environmental Entomology. She chaired or co-chaired organizing committees for three annual meetings of the International Society for Invertebrate Pathology and held the office of treasurer for four years.
Fellows of ESA are individuals who have made outstanding contributions to entomology— via research, teaching, extension, administration, military service, and public engagement and science policy —and whose career accomplishments serve to inspire all entomologists, according to the ESA, a worldwide organization with a membership of some 7000.
That's the title of a virtual seminar to be presented Wednesday, Feb. 24 by postdoctoral scholar Jessica Kansman of the Department of Entomology, Pennsylvania State University as part of the weekly winter seminars hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Kansman will speak from 4:10 to 5 p.m. To register and attend the Zoom seminar, access this Google form link.
"Whether it is combating the ever-changing host-plant conditions, or keeping careful watch for hungry predators and parasites--aphids have a stressful experience," Kansman says in her abstract. "My research has focused on figuring out just how much stress aphids can handle. Specifically, how plant water stress influences aphids and their natural enemies, and whether predator odors are as stressful for aphids as the predators themselves."
On her website, she says: "I am broadly interested in plant-insect interactions, abiotic/biotic stress interactions, insect ecology, and multi-trophic interactions. I am passionate about science communication, science policy, and inspiring a love of insects in children, in the college classroom, and with just about anyone I come across."
Kansman holds a bachelor's degree in entomology (2015) from Michigan State University, East Lansing, and a doctorate in plant, insect and microbial sciences (2020) from the University of Missouri, studying with Deborah Finke. As a doctoral student, she received a $116,859 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture "to study the effect of drought on aphid performance and behavior, indirect effects of drought on natural enemies, and how these effects cascade up to influence insect communities." The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the grant.
Kansman has given such presentations as "Plants vs. Insects: A Tale of Spines, Spit and Assassins." In one YouTube video on "Decoding Science," she describes aphids as "devastating agricultural pests. They feed by piercing a needlelike mouthpart into the plant tissue and they use it as a straw to suck up the sap of the plant." Aphids stunt growth and transmit viruses.
For a list of Department of Entomology and Nematology seminars, click here.
The title of her seminar is "Mechanisms of Resistance in Poplar Against the Asian Longhorned Beetle and its Gut Symbionts."
Hoover received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1997.
"Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), Anoplophora glabripennis, is a polyphagous, tree-killing wood borer, reported to attack a broad range of deciduous tree species, including poplar," she writes in her abstract. "Yet in the invasive range of North America and Europe, poplars are usually avoided even when they are abundant. Populus species produce salicinoids (phenolic glycosides) that have properties known to reduce feeding and cause gut lesions in foliage-feeding herbivores such as gypsy moth."
"We hypothesized that these compounds may confer resistance to ALB and help explain the feeding and attack patterns in the field in both the native and introduced range of ALB. Concentrations of salicinoids normally found in bark deterred adult feeding, but low doses of salicinoids did not inhibit feeding and resulted in dramatic effects on beetle fitness. Diversity of gut fungal and microbial symbionts and abundance of the key gut fungal symbiont were affected as well."
"In Southern China, the beetle did not exhibit a feeding preference between willow and maple, but like the invasive populations in the U.S. and Europe, beetles would not feed on and seldom attack poplar, yet in Northern China poplar plantations are often heavily attacked by ALB," Hoover related. "ALB-host interactions appear to be complex and it is possible that there are differences in geographic populations of ALB in tolerance to salicinoids. These studies will be repeated this summer in Northern China and Inner Mongolia. Understanding the mechanistic differences between geographic populations of ALB will contribute to developing control measures for this destructive wood-borer."
The department's winter-quarter seminars, coordinated by assistant professor Christian Nansen, take place every Wednesday through March 15. All are held from 4:10 to 5 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall. See seminar schedule.
Niño currently works with Professor Christina Grozinger, director of the PSU Center for Pollinator Research. Niño holds a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA).
“We are excited about Elina joining the Bee Biology program at UC Davis,” said Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “We have been in a rebuilding mode for the past few years and Elina joins the team of Dr. Neal Williams, pollination ecology and bee biology with emphasis on foraging behavior; and Dr. Brian Johnson, genetics, behavior, evolution, and health of honey bees. Dr. Niño will conduct problem-solving research focused on honey bees and those crops in need of pollination services.”
“In addition, with the establishment of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, adjacent to our bee biology facility, Dr. Niño will be able to effectively provide outreach to backyard beekeepers that represent a growing enterprise in California," Parrella said. "In addition to current bee biology faculty, Elina will be supported by Dr. Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology who studies bumble bee behavior and systematics, and, of course, Dr. Eric Mussen whom she is replacing. We are pleased that Dr. Mussen has agreed to remain active in an emeritus capacity and will be advising Dr. Niño on both her extension program and research activities.”
Said Grozinger: “Dr. Niño is internationally recognized for her work on queen biology, and has collaborated broadly with several key honey bee researchers in the United States, including David Tarpy, Peter Teal, and Jerry Hayes, as well as researchers in Israel, Europe and Australia.”
Niño said she is very excited to start working closely with the California beekeepers and growers to develop sustainable approaches to bee management. "The UC Davis bee lab has such a long, outstanding contribute to this great program,” she said.
“Elina is a very accomplished scientist,” said Mussen. “Her research involves the reproductive processes involved in queen bee mating, including the impacts of oviduct manipulation, insemination volume and insemination substances. The induced changes include measurable behavioral, physiological and molecular alterations that occur, including differences in behavioral interactions between queens and worker bees.” Niño said considering her interests in honey bee queen health she anticipates fruitful collaborations with the California queen breeders.
In her research, Niño demonstrated that different components of the mating process (oviduct manipulation, insemination volume, and insemination substance) drive different post-mating changes in honey bee queens, Grozinger said. “Furthermore, she showed that queens signal their mating status and mating quality to worker bees through their pheromones, and workers preferentially respond to well-mated queens.”
As the recipient of prestigious USDA-NIFA postdoctoral fellowship, Niño expanded her program to study the socioeconomic factors affecting the success of local queen breeding programs, and spearheaded the annual PSU Honey Bee Queen Rearing Workshop, Grozinger said.
Niño received her bachelor's degree in animal science from Cornell University in 2003; her master's degree in entomology at North Carolina State University and her doctorate at PSU in Niño has a varied entomology background. While working on her bachelor's degree at Cornell, she was involved in studies on darkling beetle control in poultry houses, pan-trapped horse flies, and surveyed mosquitoes in New York state. While working toward her master's degree at North Carolina State University, she studied dung beetle nutrient cycling and its effect on grass growth, effects of methoprene (insect grown regular) on dung beetles in field and laboratory settings, and assisted in a workshop on forensic entomology.
As a USDA/NIFA postdoctoral fellow, Niño is contributing to honey bee stock improvement programs through her research on proteins in honey bee semen. She also is cooperatively reviewing the effects of Israeli Acute Bee Paralysis Virus, Deformed Wing Virus and Nosema on honey bees on a molecular level.
A member of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), Niño received a number of high honors as an entomology graduate student. She won the coveted John Henry Comstock Graduate Student Award from the Eastern Branch of ESA in 2013; first place in a poster student competition for the President's Prize at the ESA Indianapolis meeting in 2006, and also a first-place poster award at the North Carolina Entomological Society's Raleigh meeting in 2006.
Other awards include the 2012 Student Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, Toxicology, and Molecular Biology from the International Congress on Insect Neurochemistry and Neurophysiology; 2012 PSU Alumni Association Dissertation Award; 2011 Lillian and Alex Feir Graduate Student Travel Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry or Molecular Biology, Entomological Foundation; 2011 Eastern Apicultural Society Student Award; 2011 Lorenzo Langstroth Fellowship, PSU Center for Pollinator Research; 2011 Michael E. Duke Memorial Scholarship, PSU Department of Entomology; and 2010 Sahakian Family Fund for Ag Research Travel Award, PSU College of Ag Sciences.
Niño placed first in a student paper presentation at the 2008 American Bee Research Conference in Sacramento, and received a 2007 scholarship from the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, Sacramento. The North Carolina Entomological Society named her the 2006 Outstanding MS Student of the Year.