Wargin, to receive her bachelor's degree in entomology in June (she is minoring in ecology and comparative literature), holds a near straight-A grade point average. Plans to present the awards are pending due to coronavirus pandemic precautions.
Wargin is a member of the highly competitive Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology (RSPIB), founded and co-directed by faculty members Jay Rosenheim, Joanna Chiu and Louie Yang of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. As part of RSPIB, Wargin joined the lab of Stacey Combes, associate professor, Department of Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior, to research the biomechanics and behavioral ecology of flying insects.
Combes described her as “one of the most promising undergraduates I have ever worked with in terms of her potential for research and a career in academia.”
Academic advisor Sharon Lawler, professor of entomology, praised Wargin's academic record, zeal and communication skills. “She is an extraordinarily talented and hard-working scholar. Her achievements and clear research focus promise early and extended success.”
For the past year, Wargin has been working on an experiment investigating the effects of changing barometric pressure on bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) foraging behavior. She presented the preliminary results at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology in January.
As part of her research, Wargin built a device to “experimentally control pressure using a plexiglass box, which could hold an entire hive of bees and a nectar source, a solenoid valve system connected to an air source and vacuum, and a variety of cameras to record behavior.”
“I subjected the hive inside the box to two pressure regimes in my preliminary trial: increasing pressure and decreasing pressure,” Wargin said. “With the cameras, I captured images of individually tagged worker bees leaving and returning to the hive during foraging, as well as videos of the inside of the nest to observe overall activity.”
“Currently, I have completed a preliminary trial of this experiment,” the UC Davis senior said. “I am now refining the methodology and working out a few issues I had with data collection in order to streamline future trials and improve the scope of the data I collect. While I don't have enough data for publishable results, I have discovered from my preliminary trial that pressure does appear to have some effect on bumble bee foraging behavior. Specifically, when the pressure is decreasing, the bees tend to be more active; they go on more foraging trips and are slightly busier inside the nest. When the pandemic has calmed down a bit and I am able to return to lab, I hope to complete a few more trials and publish the results.”
“Last spring, Annaliese and I began discussing ideas for an independent research project for her to conduct during her senior year,” Combes said. “She became excited about the idea of experimentally testing the effects of barometric pressure changes (which often precede storms and other changes in weather) on bumble bee foraging and nest care behavior. Anecdotal accounts of the effects of pressure changes on bees and other animals abound, but experiments have rarely been performed on this topic in a controlled setting – partly because it's not entirely straightforward how to design a system that allows one to control and alter barometric pressure. “
“However, Annaliese dove right into this challenge and set about designing a custom-built, air-tight enclosure to house a colony of bees and their foraging chamber,” Combes said. “She spent several months constructing this system--researching and ordering proportional solenoid valves to precisely control inflow and outflow from the chamber (to alter pressure) and designing camera systems to automatically capture videos of in-hive behavior as well as motion-activated photographs of individual foragers that she marked with QR-code tags. Annaliese succeeded in producing a system to test her questions and conducted a preliminary experiment over several weeks on one hive this summer. The results are very promising, and we plan to follow up with several more experiments on additional hives this year.
Said Combes: “Annaliese's creativity in research questions and approaches, her determination in designing and trouble-shooting a very difficult technical set-up, and her diligence in collecting rigorous data for hours on end have resulted in what I think will be some novel and very important findings about how a ubiquitous environmental variable affects the behavior of key pollinators. I anticipate this research resulting in a high-impact publication over the next year, with Annaliese as the lead author.”
In addition, she has “devoted herself to outreach and to sharing her extraordinary passion for insects with the general public, and especially with girls and women,” Combes said. “She has always loved insects and was initially mystified when many of her classmates (especially girls) seemed scared of these creatures.”
A native of Rancho Palos Verdes, a suburb in Los Angeles County, Annaliese developed her interest in insects in early childhood. “I spent the early years of my life in Chicago, where I had a few encounters with insects like cicadas, mantises and bees,” she related. “These experiences sparked my interest and inspired me to pursue a career that was closely connected to the natural world. I went through a few different phases when I was a teenager when it came to what I wanted to do in college, but all of them were related to the biological sciences, and I eventually decided to do what I always did--spend a lot of time looking at and learning about insects. That initial fascination with insects has since developed into a broad interest in the fields of insect behavior and insect ecology.”
As a teen-ager, Annaliese won the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest Girl Scout honor, for her 80-hour self-led service project focused on insect outreach. She delivered several presentations to children in her community about insects and their importance to the natural world. The award honors the “dreamers and the doers who take ‘make the world a better place' to the next level, according to the Girl Scout Association.
An active member of the Entomology Club, Wargin worked with advisor Bob Kimsey and fellow members in 2018 to collect data on Alcatraz Island for the National Park Service. They surveyed old buildings for beetle damage and set up experimental trials for future data collection. In addition, Wargin served as a student researcher in the Department of Evolution and Ecology in 2019, and worked on a native pollinator project in the summer of 2017 at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy.
Wargin's seven academic scholarships include the UC Davis McBeth Memorial Scholarship, given to entomology students who plan to further their education in the field.
Her future plans? “I plan to attend graduate school and earn a PhD in insect ecology,” Wargin said. “I feel drawn to research and am excited about what I'll study in the future. “
A nematologist, an aquatic entomologist and a community ecologist.
And the winners...drum roll...are:
- Best chocolate cookie: Aquatic entomologist Sharon Lawler, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, for her recipe, "Dirty Drunk Snowballs"
- Best non-chocolate cookie: Nematologist Steve Nadler, professor and chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, for his Internet-modified recipe, "Cranberry Orange Cookies"
- Best decorated cookie: Community ecologist Rachel Vannette, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, for her "Stamped Citrus Shortbread" recipe from the New York Times
Each of the winners, determined by popular vote, received a $25 Amazon gift card.
Dirty Drunk Snowballs
By Sharon Lawler
1 box Trader Joe's Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars
1/4 cup dark rum (white rum or bourbon will also work)
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
Grind up the cookies in a food processor or blender until pretty fine but with some texture left. Stir enough dark rum so that the crumbs hold together well, but stop before it gets soggy. Let the mix sit for 15 minutes or so. Sift the confectioner's sugar into a bowl. Roll the mix into small balls, and then roll them in the confectioner's sugar.
Cranberry Orange Cookies
By Steve Nadler
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granular white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
5 tablespoons orange juice
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups orange-flavored dried cranberries (Trader Joe's)
1-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
- Use a food processor to chop the dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, blend together the butter, white granular sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.
- Whisk the egg in a small bowl, then mix into the large bowl.
- Add 1 teaspoon of orange zest and 2 tablespoons of orange juice into the large bowl and mix.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Stir the flour mixture from step 6 into the large bowl.
- Mix in the chopped cranberries, working to distribute them evenly.
- Drop cookie dough mixture (rounded tablespoon) on ungreased cookie sheets. Space them 2 inches apart.
- Bake for about 12 minutes in the preheated oven (375 F). The edges will begin to turn golden brown when ready.
- Remove cookies from sheets and cool on wire racks.
- In bowl, mix 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons of orange juice, and the confectioner's sugar until smooth. Brush on the tops of the cooled cookies. Let dry.
Stamped Citrus Shortbread
By Rachel Vannette
Recipe from New York Times
For the Cookies
- 2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- ⅓ cup/45 grams cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
- ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
- 1 orange (preferably tangelo)
- 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- ¾ cup/75 grams sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, plus more as needed
For the Glaze:
- 3/4 cup/75 grams sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, plus more as needed
- Prepare the cookies: Add flour, cornstarch and salt to a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Combine butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Zest half the orange and half the lemon directly into the bowl. Reserve the lemon and orange for the glaze. Cream the butter mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add vanilla and lemon extracts and beat on medium speed until well combined, scraping the bowl a few times as needed.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Scrape the bowl and fold a few times to make sure everything is well combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and chill until firm, at least 1 hour, and up to 3 days.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut dough in half and let one piece warm up for 30 minutes if it has chilled longer than an hour. Return the other half to the refrigerator. Portion the dough into pieces roughly the size of walnuts (a scant 2 tablespoons/about 35 grams), then roll each piece into a ball between your hands. One at a time, dip a ball of dough into flour and set on work surface. If dough balls soften too much, return them to the refrigerator to firm up for a few minutes. You want it cool, but malleable. Dip cookie stamp in flour, and press down on the ball of dough until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Remove stamp. (If dough sticks to stamp, carefully peel it off. Don't worry about excess flour as you will brush it off after chilling.) Trim the edges using a 2-inch cookie cutter, and transfer dough rounds to 2 parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheets, arranging them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Once you have stamped out all the cookies, knead together the scraps to make a few more. Chill in the freezer until very firm, about 10 minutes. When cold, brush off any excess flour with a dry pastry brush.
- Bake until cookies just start to turn golden underneath, 12 to 14 minutes, switching the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time.
- Make the glaze while the cookies bake: Zest the remaining skin from the reserved lemon and orange into a small bowl. Add the confectioners' sugar, butter and orange juice and whisk until smooth. If glaze is too thick, add more orange juice. If it is too thin, add more confectioners' sugar. It should be the consistency of thin custard.
- Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, and transfer to a wire rack set over a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Pick up a cookie, and using the back of a small spoon, spread a generous teaspoon of glaze on a cookie, letting any excess drip onto the next cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are glazed. Cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Proof of how delicious the winning cookies were? Empty containers./h4>/h4>
They received their degrees at an afternoon ceremony on Sunday, June 16 in The Pavilion, sharing the ceremony with other graduating students from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES). CA&ES held two commencement ceremonies; one in the morning at 9 and one in the afternoon at 2.
Dean Helene Dillard and Chancellor Gary May both delivered speeches. It was a day "filled with commencement regalia, beaming smiles and other memories that will last a lifetime," May recalled on a UC Davis website.
The entomology graduates (UC Davis does not offer a major in nematology but does offer a minor) are:
- Darian Buckman
- Abram Estrada
- Lohitashwa Garikipati
- Rayanh Gutierrez
- Jo Hsuan Kao
- Eliza Litsey
- Jessica Nguyen
- Dingyuan Peng
- Jesus Martinez Rodriguez
- Matthew Salvador
- Michelle Tam
- Seiji Yokota
CA&ES was the only college or school holding two ceremonies to accommodate the graduating students. The others ceremonies:
- School of Medicine — 10 a.m. Friday, May 17, Mondavi Center
- School of Law — 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, Mondavi Center
- School of Veterinary Medicine — 3:30 p.m Friday, May 24, Mondavi Center
- School of Education — 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, Mondavi Center
- Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing — 10 a.m. Thursday, June 13, Mondavi Center
- Graduate Studies — 3 p.m. Thursday, June 13, The Pavilion
- College of Biological Sciences — 9 a.m. Friday, June 14, The Pavilion
- College of Engineering — 2 p.m. Friday, June 14, The Pavilion
- College of Letters and Science — 9 a.m., and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, June 15, The Pavilion
- Graduate School of Management — 10 a.m. Saturday, June 15, Mondavi Center
The annual UC Davis Graduate Research Symposium for the Designated Emphasis in the Biology of Vector-Borne Diseases (DEBVBD) is set for 3 to 8 p.m., Thursday, May 9 in the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center, 530 Alumni Drive.
Coordinator Sharon Lawler, professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, announced that the symposium is open to all interested persons.
The schedule includes
- 3:10 p.m. Opening remarks by coordinator/professor Sharon Lawler of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- 3:15 p.m. Presentation by Steve Lindow, professor of plant pathology, UC Berkeley, on “Detailed Studies of Vectorborne Plant Pathogens Can Lead to Novel Means of Disease Control: the Case of Xylella fastidiosa in Grape and Citrus"
- 4:05 p.m. Graduate Student Poster Session. All DEBVBD students are required to present a poster
- 5:15 p.m. Presentation by Jason Rasgon, professor of entomology and disease epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, on “Endosymbiotic Control of Mosquito-Borne Vruses: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
- 6:05 p.m. Informal, catered dinner (space is limited and reservations are required)
Students presenting their posters will be Sarah Taysir Abusaa, Laura Harlan Backus, Erin Elizabeth Ball, Nicholas Booster, Marisa Anne Pella Donnelly, Anna C Erickson, Jessica Yvette Franco, Karen Marie Holcomb, Erin Taylor Kelly, William Louie, Norma Angelica Ordaz, Risa Raelene Pesapane, Benjamin Thomas Plourde, Maribel Alexandra Portilla, Kasen Kane Riemersma, Pascale Claire Stiles, and Olivia Chase Winokur.
Beverages and snacks will be provided at the symposium. Those interested in attending the dinner must respond by Monday, May 6. Space is limited; first priority will go to members of the DEBVBD, Lawler said. To RSVP, access https://forms.gle/zjTq2DTeahenGeTa6
The event is funded by the Pacific-Southwest Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology, and the Virginia Perry Wilson Endowment.
The annual UC Davis Research Symposium on the Designated Emphasis in the Biology of Vector-Borne Diseases (DEBVPD) will take place from 3 to 8 p.m., Thursday, May 3 in the Putah Creek Lodge, and will feature two speakers and a graduate student poster session.
Addressing the gathering will be Lark Coffey, member of the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and research director Stéphane Blanc of the program, Biology and Genetics of Plant-Pathogen Interactions at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) in Montpellier, France.
The event begins with opening remarks at 3:10, followed by Coffey's presentation at 3:20 on “Contrasting Virulence and Transmissibility in Disparate hosts: A Zika Virus Mutation that Associates with Fetal Death in Rhesus Macaques reduces transmission by Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes.”
The graduate student poster session begins at 4:05 p.m., with Laura Backus, Nicholas Booster, Marisa Donnelly, Jessica Franco, Karen Holcomb, William Louie, Risa Pesapane, Benjamin Plourde, Maribel Portilla, Jennifer Reed, Kasen Riemersma, Pascale Stiles and Olivia Winokur presenting. Blanc's address follows at 5:30 p.m. on "Current Research Trends in the Interaction between Plant Viruses and Insect Vectors."
A dinner (space is limited and reservations are required) will follow at 6:15, announced Professor Sharon Lawler of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and chair of DEBVBD.
Coffey focuses her research on the ecology and evolution of arthropod-borne viruses, including Zika, West Nile and chikungunya. They are significant causes of human disease, with no vaccines or treatments beyond palliative care.
Her team seeks to understand patterns of viral molecular evolution in enzootic and epidemic settings and the viral genetic factors that promote emergence of epidemic variants via host range changes. Studies also focus on how intrahost arboviral genetic diversity generated by error-prone viral replication to produce minority variants influences infectivity and transmissibility in mosquito and vertebrate hosts. The team is also developing approaches to improve arbovirus surveillance.
Coffey received her bachelor's degree in biology at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., and her doctorate in experimental pathology from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. She then conducted research at the Institut Pastuer in Paris, France, and at the University of San Francisco.
Blanc has been with INRA Montpellier since 1997 and with his current research unit since 2004. He studies interactions among viruses, insect vectors and plant hosts. His group works at multiple scales from molecular to viral genetics and population dynamics. In addition, he has an innovative focus on understanding multipartite viruses.
He received his undergraduate degree in biology of populations and organisms from the University of Montpellier. His doctoral research, also at the University of Montpellier, addressed molecular mechanisms of plant virus transmission by insect vectors. After receiving his doctorate in 1993, he studied plant virus vector-transmission at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, with Professor T. P. Pirone.
The Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Department of Plant Pathology are home to the Designated Emphasis in the Biology of Vector-borne Diseases (DEBVBD).