Sixty UC Davis undergraduate students, divided into 12 teams with such names as “Green Team, “Amigo Acids” and “Attack on Titration,” will compete in the first-ever Eric Conn Biochemistry Quizzes, which will get underway on Zoom at 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20.
“This will be a fun activity and one that memorializes the legendary plant biochemist Eric Conn (1923-2017), renowned in his field,” said organizer and coordinator Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor of molecular and cellular biology and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Conn, a UC Davis emeritus professor of molecular and cellular biology, "was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and his leadership at UC Davis helped establish the academic spirit of the College of Biological Sciences as it exists today," Leal said. "He strongly believed that a university professor should excel in both research and teaching.”
The public can register to view the event by logging in at https://tinyurl.com/y33eyc4v. It may become an annual event.
Initially, 40 students registered to compete—five per team—but the response was so overwhelming that Leal added four more teams. The first eight teams to register will compete on camera, while the other four teams will play “off tube.”
“I created the word in reference to the old TV set (a tube) to say that they will not be on camera,” Leal quipped. “These teams will play simultaneously with the teams playing on camera. We will have a scorekeeper, Radek Abarca, who will keep track of their response in real-time.”
“Team A will play along with the Proline Pros, and Team D will play along with Drop the Base,” Leal said. “Next, Team B will play along with the Krebs Cyclists,” and Team C will play with the Gibbs Team.”
The first 40 students to register introduce themselves, their majors and their hometowns in videos posted on Leal's Twitter account, @wsleal2014.
The first game pits the Green Team vs. the Amigo Acids and includes Almas Khan, Christopher Yun, Max Fallejo, Kathryn Vallejo, Alvin Kim, Caidon Iwuagwu, Jeffrey Toman, Karsen Culverhouse, Matthew Kim, and Sudev Namboordiri. On Leal's video, each also names his or her favorite amino acid.
In the second game, it's the Proline Pros vs. Drop the Base. Participants are Alyse Lodigiani, Anthony Weidner, Aaditi Gaikwad, Banin Alofi, Jennifer Kang, Rachel Levan, Anish Wadhwa, Ian Guzman, Viraj Deshpande and Yu-uki Onda.
The third game stars the Krebs Cyclists vs. the Gibbs Team. Participants are Joseph Morrison, Addison Ali, Alan Santana Cortez Molina, Shiwani KC, Frances Gross, Natalie Six, Yasamin “Yasi” Parsa, Brandon Matsumoto, Tina Luu and Esha Urs.
In the fourth game, the Attack on Titration will clash with the Ironic Bonds. Participants are Charlize Mitra, Kelly Kim, Maya Mysore, Lizeth Macias, Suzanne Quiroz, Natanie “Tonie” Leech, Jiaying Liu, Catherine Rodriguez, Lauren Hartwell and Kelly Brandt.
Participating students are from as far away as the City of Pune (India), Yokohama (Japan), Nanjing (China), and as close as the City of Davis. Other students hail from Cupertino, Los Angeles, Redwood City, Santa Monica, Palmdale, Irvine, Redding, Sacramento, Fairfield, Cupertino, San Jose, San Diego, San Ramon, Elk Grove, San Lorenzo, Lincoln, El Centro, Santa Rosa, Oakland, Roseville, Tracy, and Martinez in California, and Long Island in New York, among the many other municipalities.
“Each team of five players will be given three questions,” Leal said. “They will have one minute to confer while we hear stories about Eric Conn; see videos from staff, faculty and alumni and UC Davis friends; and watch public service messages on health topics such as COVID-19 and diabetes.”
College of Biological Sciences (CBS) faculty will ask questions via video. Emeriti Professors Clark Lagarias and Charles Gasser will judge the competition. The schedule also includes CBS Professor Judy Callis delivering a brief remembrance of Conn, and CBS Dean Mark Winey offering a message of encouragement to the students.
In her video, Dr. Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, addresses the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines. Also planned: footages of favorite campus sites that students miss the most, and “even accounts of how departments were named in the old days,” Leal said. Plant pathologist George Bruening, professor emeritus, Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will be among the faculty featured in the clips.
Conn, a member of the UC Davis faculty for 43 years, was the third recipient of the UC Davis Prize for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement. Described as an excellent teacher and researcher, Conn received the Academic Senate's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1974 and the Academic Senate's highest honor, the Faculty Research Lecturer Award, in 1977. He won the UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement in 1989. See https://youtu.be/TdwJkcjQvbw.
Cooperative Extension agricultural specialist Ian Grettenberger, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and his graduate student, Madison "Madi" Hendrick, will discuss the crops, the pests, and the natural enemies or beneficials at a virtual Facebook live session from 11 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Oct 22.
The event, "The Good and the Bad: Insects and Other Arthropods in Agriculture, with a Focus on California Rice and Alfalfa," will be live-streamed on the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology's Facebook page. (Link to Facebook live here). Grettenberger and Hendrick will present short talks and then field questions. No personal Facebook account is required to join the session, which is free and open to the public.
"This is all about the arthropods, both the pests and beneficials that they study in the rice and alfalfa fields," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology. "Most of the focus is on insects, but tadpole shrimp in rice fields also will be discussed." A virtual family craft activity is also planned.
"I will be discussing some of the insect (or arthropod) problems faced by growers of rice in California and some of the challenges in managing them, Grettenberger said. "In rice, some of the key arthropod pests are tadpole shrimp, which can turn what would have been a lush stand if rice into a poor stand with a lot of floating seedlings. Meanwhile, later in the year, armyworm caterpillars, the larvae of a moth, can chew on rice leaves and destroy plants. I'll discuss some of the ongoing work to better understand and manage these pests."
Grettenberg's fields of expertise include field and vegetable crops; integrated pest management; applied insect ecology, and biological control of pests. (See Spotlight on Ian Grettenberger.) Among his current grants:
- Protection of rice from invertebrate pests
- Insecticide resistant alfalfa weevils in the western United States: Quantifying the scope of resistance and implementing a plan to manage the threat
- Management of key cotton arthropod pests with insecticides and acaricides, a proactive approach to prepare for the invasion of the tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta) into California
- Detection, biology and control of the exotic Swede midge (Contarinia nasturtii) for California cole crops
- Management of the western spotted and striped cucumber beetle in melon production
- Biological control of the bagrada bug
- Insecticide resistance monitoring and evaluation of efficacy of current chemical tactics for managing aphids and thrips in lettuce
What sparked his interest in entomology? "I had biologist parents, and was drawn into entomology at a pretty young age," Grettenberger said. "I spent plenty of time looking in flowers and turning over logs looking for insects. Once I started thinking about going to graduate school for entomology, I decided to focus on the intersection of agricultural entomology and insect ecology. I wanted to work on applied issues in entomology."
Hendrick, a second-year graduate student in the Grettenberger lab, received her bachelor's degree in iInternational studies at North Carolina State University, and also spent a semester at Nagoya University in Japan (she minored in Japanese).
"I got my start in entomology completely by chance!," Hendrick related. "I needed a science credit and happened to pick a class called 'Insects and People.”' That class really helped me to reframe the way I thought about insects and appreciate what interesting little critters they are. Through that class, I was also able to get a job as an undergraduate assistant in an entomology lab. I worked in a specialty crops lab, where I developed interests in integrated pest management and invasive species. I now study insecticide resistance in the alfalfa weevil, and I'm excited to share what I've learned through this outreach event!"
Grettenberger, Yolo County Farm Advisor Rachael Freeman Long and Madi Hendrick recently wrote a piece in the UC Agricultural and Natural Resources (UC ANR) blog, Alfalfa and Forage News, "A (Virtual )Update on Worms, Weevils an Aphids in Alfalfa."
"This year, the Kearney Research and Extension Center Alfalfa and Forage Field Day went virtual," Grettenberger wrote. "Attendees did not get the chance to look out over lush fields of alfalfa or towering plantings of sorghum, but they get did an update on ongoing work in alfalfa and other forages. Our team put together a rapid-fire video to discuss what are typically the key insect pests in California alfalfa: summer worms, alfalfa weevils, and aphids."
The summer worms in alfalfa include the summer worms: Western yellowstriped armyworm, beet armyworm and alfalfa caterpillar. Another key pest is the alfalfa weevil. The trio also discussed aphids and their natural enemies, including lady beetles, aka ladybugs).
Pests of rice include armyworms, aster leafhoppers, crayfish, rice leafminers, rice seed midges, rice water weevils and tadpole shrimp.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, but is temporarily closed. The museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens; a live "petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and taranatulas; and a gift shop stocked with insect-themed T-shirts, books, posters, jewelry, candy and insect-collecting equipment.
- Alfalfa and Forage News: A (Virtual) Update on Worms, Weevils and Aphids in Alfalfa (By Ian Grettenberger, Rachael Freeman Long and Madi Hendrick, Sept. 20, 2020) (See video on same page)
- Alfalfa and Forage News: Natural Enemies Are Important for Control of the Aphid Complex in Alfalfa--A Case Study (By Ian Grettenberger, Rachael Freeman Long, Daniel Putnam and Rob Wilson, April 7, 2020)
- UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: How to Manage Pests of Alfalfa
- UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Insects and Other Pests of Rice
James R. Carey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, will share his scientific modeling expertise at the UC Davis-based COVID-19 webinar on Thursday afternoon, April 23.
The webinar, to be broadcast on Zoom and YouTube Live from 1:30 to 4 p.m., will feature physicians, scientists and a survivor of the COVID-19 virus, announced organizer-moderator Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
“COVID-19 is set apart from all other strains of flu for the simple reason that people die from it at higher rates than from other varieties,” Carey says. “It follows that understanding the actuarial details and consequences of this virus is central to understanding, has potential impact on the U.S. population in particular and on the world population in general.”
In his presentation, Carey will ask and answer three questions: “The first is related to case fatality rate of COVID-19. The second concern will be the age-specific mortality of this virus, and the third, to its demographic consequences if no health-related interventions, policies implemented, or a vaccine were available.” Carey is the co-author of the newly published book, Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods. (See news story.)
The webinar, free and open to the public, will include experts in immunology, infectious diseases, pathology and emergency medicine. Registration is at http://zoompresentation.com. The number of Zoom participants is limited to 500, and is now at that mark, Leal said late Wednesday afternoon, but the overflow can watch it on YouTube Live at at covidactionplan.com or https://bit.ly/2VurK3Z.
Chancellor Gary May will give the introduction. The main speakers are UC Davis physician-scientists Emanuel Maverakis, Stuart Cohen and Nathan Kuppermann; UC Davis veterinarian-scientist Nicole Baumgarth; physician Ron Chapman, Yolo County Health Officer; and pediatrician State Sen. Richard Pan, District 6 chair, Senate Committee on Health.
Davis resident Marilyn Stebbins, a pharmacist who works at the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy--and a survivor of the deadly illness that to date has killed more than 182,000 people worldwide (15,000-plus in the United States)--will tell her story. (See Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus map for up-to-date statistics.)
You-Lo Hsieh, UC Davis distinguished professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and an expert on textiles and clothing, will explain the differences between regular masks, surgical masks, and N95 masks.
Newly added to the list: Michael B. A. Oldstone, M.D., of Scripps Research Institute; professor emeritus Niels Pedersen, DMV, of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and Anne Wyllie, PhD., Yale School of Medicine.
The participants will answer advance and online questions. Questions can be submitted at this site: http://zoompresentation.com.
Martin Hauser, senior insect biosystematist with the Plant Pest Diagnostics Center, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), will speak on “The Curious Case of the Stingless Bees of Palo Alto” at the Pacific Coast Entomological Society meeting on Thursday, Feb. 27 on the UC Davis campus.
The society will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the conference room of the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Room 1371 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
“In 2013 we found a stingless bee colony in Palo Alto in a tree,” Hauser said, “and I had a very hard time identifying the species—the genus is Plebeia—and I had no idea how they made it into California and where they came from. Many years later and many strange events later, I figured all these things out.”
Hauser will discuss his research and also reveal how long stingless bees have been sighted in California. It is illegal to import stingless bees into the United States.
The 7:30 p.m. meeting begins with a general business session, followed by Hauser's talk. All interested persons are invited to attend.
A pre-meeting dinner will begin at 6 p.m. at the KetMoRee restaurant in downtown Davis. Members and entomology associates interested in joining the group for dinner should email Kady Tauber at email@example.com before Tuesday, Feb. 25.
The society meets six to eight times a year, usually at the California Academy of Sciences, UC Berkeley, or at the CDFA's Plant Pest Diagnostics Center. Membership in the society, organized in 1901, is open to everyone--amateurs and professionals alike. The annual membership fee is $25, and $12.50 for students. The society publishes the quarterly journal, The Pan-Pacific Entomologist. and the Bits and PES Newsletter for members residing within commuting distance of San Francisco.
The Beer-for-a-Butterfly Contest is not over.
Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology who annually sponsors the contest in the three-county area of Sacramento, Solano and Yolo to determine the first flight of the cabbage white butterfly, sighted one on Thursday, Jan. 30 at the Putah Creek Nature Park, Winters, Yolo County, but did not collect it.
He spotted the butterfly, Pieris rapae, basking on a malva leaf at 11:16 a.m., but it took off before he could net it.
Shapiro says that since he didn't collect it—no collection, no voucher—the contest is still underway. The prize always goes to the first person who collects the first cabbage white of the year.
"Now that I know the bug is out, there's no scientific reason to want more records," he wrote in a email. "To be fair to potential competitors, the first person to catch a rapae in the contest area before 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 2, wins the beer. I will not try to beat them to a voucher." Shapiro says this was the latest first flight date for Valley rapae since Jan. 31, 2011,
Shapiro collected the 2019 winner on Jan. 25 near the Suisun Yacht Club, Solano County. Since 1972, when he launched the contest, the first flight has varied from Jan. 1 to Feb. 22, averaging about Jan. 20. The rules are here: https://bit.ly/2GE5coY
The contest rules include:
- It must be an adult (no caterpillars or pupae) and be captured outdoors.
- It must be delivered alive to the department office, 2320 Storer Hall, UC Davis, during work hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the full data (exact time, date and location of the capture) and your name, address, phone number and/or e-mail. The receptionist will certify that it is alive and refrigerate it. (If you collect it on a weekend or holiday, keep it in a refrigerator; do not freeze. A few days in the fridge will not harm it, Shapiro says.)
- Shapiro is the sole judge.
The UC Davis professor has monitored butterfly population trends on a transect across central California since 1972 and records the information on his research website. His 10 sites stretch from the Sacramento River Delta through the Sacramento Valley and Sierra Nevada mountains to the high desert of the Western Great Basin. He visits his sites every two weeks "to record what's out" from spring to fall, weather permitting. He has studied more than 160 species of butterflies in his transect. The largest and oldest database in North America, it was recently cited by British conservation biologist Chris Thomas in a worldwide study of insect biomass.