- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
She is the first UC Davis-affiliated scientist to win the award. She will receive a certificate, 1250 pounds ($1,624) and an expense paid trip to London to receive the award at the Ento 19 conference, set Aug. 20-22 at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The Royal Entomological Society, an international organization devoted to the study of insects, was founded in 1833 as the Entomological Society of London. Its mission is to disseminate information about insects and improve communication between entomologists.
Gillung's work on spider flies, involving genomics, phylogenetics, systematics, and comparative analyses, “has increased our understanding of the biological patterns and processes that have shaped our planet's biodiversity,” wrote her major professor and award nominator Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Gillung received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in December 2018, studying with Kimsey and mentor Shaun Winterton, insect biosystematist, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and a member of the Royal Entomological Society. Gillung also collaborated with ant specialist and taxonomist Phil Ward, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Gillung is now a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University in the Bryan Danforth lab, where she is researching Apoidea (stinging wasps and bees) phylogenomics, evolution and diversification.
Her dissertation, “Systematics and Phylogenomics of Spider Flies (Diptera, Acroceridae),” focused on the evolution, conservation, biology, and taxonomy of spider flies, a group of spider natural enemies,
Gillung's taxonomic work on spider flies, described as landmark, included identification keys and morphology-based diagnoses of species using modern techniques of cybertaxonomy—the application of the internet, digital technologies, and computer resources to increase and speed up the discovery and cataloging of new species, Kimsey wrote. “Using cybertaxonomic tools, Jessica described 25 new spider fly species herself, and in collaboration with fellow entomologists, three fossil species from Baltic amber, described in her first dissertation chapter. Cybertaxonomy is a powerful tool that allows researchers and citizen scientists to collaborate in real time and across great distances to increase the speed and efficiency of biodiversity discovery.”
“Jessica unraveled the functional and ecological implications of key morphological traits, as well as their distribution across the Tree of Life,” Kimsey said. “In her doctoral dissertation, she established new homologies for the wing venation of spider flies and conducted detailed and assiduous dissections of male reproductive structures (i.e., genitalia) to understand homologies, demonstrating that morphological traits are dynamically evolving systems useful for both classification and inference of evolutionary history.”
Since many insect species are threatened, geographically restricted, or relatively rare in nature, Gillung performed non-destructive DNA extraction of specimens housed in entomological collections, including the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Gillung collected molecular data from decades-old insects without damaging the specimens.
Gillung's multifaceted research on genomics, bioinformatics, phylogenetics, plant-pollinator interactions, and biodiversity discovery drew more $120,000 in grants and awards while at UC Davis.
The UC Davis alumnus is known for her “phenomenal leadership activities, her nearly straight-A academic record (3.91 grade point average), her excellence as an entomologist and teacher, her public service and outreach programs (from 2013 to 2018, she reached more than 20,000 people at UC Davis-based events) and her incredible publication record,
Kimsey said. “She published 11 refereed publications related to her thesis in very strong journals. Most entomologists do not publish nearly that much, even as a postdoctoral scholar or a junior faculty member.”
A recipient of numerous other awards, Gillung won the prestigious international award for “Best Student Presentation Award” at the ninth annual International Congress of Dipterology, held in 2018 in Windhoek, Namibia. She also won the 2019 Early Career Award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA) and the 2018 PBESA Student Leadership Award. PBESA encompasses 11 western states, U.S. territories and parts of Canada and Mexico.
Gillung was a key member of the 2015 PBESA championship Linnaean Team that went on to win the ESA national championship. The Linnaean Games are lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams.
Gillung also collaborated on a project aimed at encouraging students to attend and participate in the Orlando, Fla., meeting of the International Congress of Entomology. She and several colleagues published a paper entitled “From the Students to the Students: Why YOU need to Attend ICE 2016.”
The Royal Entomological Society will publish her biography and photo in its Antenna magazine, on the society website, and in the Marsh Christian Trust Award brochure.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Zalom was notified of the honor this week for his “significant contributions to insect science” by Royal Society president J. A. Pickett and secretary A.K. Murchie. He joins the ranks of eminent scientists including Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.
The Royal Entomological Society plays a national and international role in disseminating information about insects and improving communication among entomologists. Founded in London in 1833, it is a successor to a number of short-lived societies dating back to 1745. In 1885 Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to the society. In the centennial year of 1933, King George V added the word "Royal" to the title of the organization.
Zalom is served as president of the Entomological Foundation in 2015 as it transitioned to a formal affiliation with the ESA. He has been heavily involved in research and leadership in integrated pest management (IPM) activities at the state, national and international levels. He directed the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years (1986-2002).
Zalom, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, focuses his research on California specialty crops, including tree crops (almonds, olives, prunes, peaches), small fruits (grapes, strawberries, caneberries), and fruiting vegetables (tomatoes), as well as international IPM programs.
The IPM strategies and tactics Zalom has developed include monitoring procedures, thresholds, pest development and population models, biological controls and use of less toxic pesticides, that have become standard in practice and part of the UC IPM Guidelines for these crops.
As a member of the UC Davis entomology department since 1980, Zalom has published more than 330 refereed papers and book chapters, and more than 380 technical and extension articles. The articles span a wide range of topics related to IPM, including introduction and management of newer, soft insecticides, development of economic thresholds and sampling methods, management of invasive species, biological control, insect population dynamics, pesticide runoff mitigation, and determination of host feeding and oviposition preferences of pests.
The Zalom lab has responded to a number of important pest invasions in the last decade, with research projects on glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, and the spotted wing Drosophila. They are currently working on two pest problems recently discovered in California, grapevine red blotch associated virus and brown marmorated stink bug.
Zalom is also a fellow of the ESA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and California Academy of Sciences. He also served as vice chair of his department.
Highly honored for his work, Zalom has received ESA's “Recognition Award” and "Excellence in Extension Entomology Award," the Entomological Foundation's “Award for Excellence in IPM,” an award sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection and given for “the most outstanding contributions to IPM” as well as its “IPM Team Award” as part of the seven-member UC Almond Pest Management Alliance IPM Team, and the “C. W. Woodworth Award” from the Pacific Branch of the ESA in 2011, its highest recognition. Additional notable honors Zalom has received include the “James H. Meyer Award” from UC Davis for teaching, research and service, the “Outstanding Mentor Award” from the UC Davis Consortium for Women and Research, and a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship.