Now, newly published research on ovarian cancer, involving an anti-inflammatory compound discovered and developed in the Bruce Hammock lab at the University of California, Davis, and tested at Harvard Medical School on mice models, indicates that the compound not only suppresses inflammation but reduces cancer growth, acting as a “surge protector.”
“We are excited about this research and its potential,” said Hammock, a UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Chemotherapy and surgery, the mainstays of conventional cancer treatment, can act as double-edged swords. It is tragic that the very treatments used to cure cancer are helping it to survive and grow.”
The research is a “novel approach to suppressing therapy-induced tumor growth and recurrence,” said the 13-member team from Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), UC Davis, Institute of Systems Biology of Seattle, and Emory University School of Medicine of Atlanta.
Their paper, “Suppression of Chemotherapy-induced Cytokine/Lipid Mediator Surge and Ovarian Cancer by a Dual Cox-2, sEH Inhibitor,” appears today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
“To prevent tumor-recurrence after therapy, it will be critical to neutralize the inherent tumor-promoting activity of therapy-generated debris,” said lead author Allison Gartung of Harvard Medical School/BIDMC. “Our results indicate that a dual COX-2/sEH inhibitor may offer a novel alternative to protect the body from a debris-mediated inflammatory response.”
Gartung said that the study confirmed that chemotherapy-killed ovarian cancer cells “induce surrounding immune cells called macrophages to release a surge of cytokines and lipid mediators that create an optimal environment for tumors to survive and grow.”
The team treated the mice models with a dual lipid pathway inhibitor discovered several years ago in the Hammock lab. It integrates two anti-inflammatory drugs (COX-2 inhibitor and soluble expoxide hydrolase (sEH) inhibitor) into a single molecule with the aim of reducing tumor angiogenesis and metastasis.
Chemist Sung Hee Hwang of the Hammock lab developed the compound, known as PTUPB, for the study. “The dual inhibitor here follows earlier work we did with it, blocking breast and lung tumors in mice,” Hammock said. “PTUPB is already being clinically evaluated for its therapeutic properties in other diseases.” Chemist Jun Yang of the Hammock lab did the mass spectrometry, showing how stabilization of lipid mediators reduces cancer growth and metastasis.
Lead researcher Dipak Panigrahy, a former Harvard physician turned full-time researcher, described chemotherapy and surgery “as our best tools for front-line cancer therapy, but chemotherapy and surgery create cell debris that can stimulate inflammation, angiogenesis, and metastasis. Thus, the very treatment used by oncologists to try to cure cancer is also helping it survive and grow. Overcoming the dilemma of debris-induced tumor progression is critical if we are to prevent tumor recurrence of treatment-resistance tumors which lead to cancer therapy failure.”
The tumor cell debris generates a “cytokine surge” that can result in a perfect storm for cancer progression. “The dual inhibitor acts as a surge protector,” Panigrahy said.
Panigrahy, who led angiogenesis and cancer animal modeling in the laboratory of Judah Folkman, a leading cancer research laboratory, based the debris model on his mother's chemotherapy treatments, and dedicated the research to his mother and “all other women who lost their lives to ovarian cancer.” American Cancer Society statistics show that among women, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths. A woman's risk of ovarian cancer is about 1 in 78; every year more than 14,000 die from the disease.
“Traditional cancer therapy sets up a dilemma,” Panigrahy commented. “Yes, we need to kill cancer cells but the inevitable byproduct of successfully doing so also stimulates tumor regrowth and progression. The more tumor cells you kill, the more inflammation you create, which can inadvertently stimulate the growth of surviving tumor cells. Overcoming the dilemma of debris-induced tumor progression is paramount if we are to prevent tumor recurrence of treatment-resistant tumors – the major reason for failure of cancer therapy. Our studies potentially pave the path for a new strategy for the prevention and treatment of chemotherapy-induced resistance with potential to translate to the clinic. If successful, this approach may also allow us to reduce the toxic activity of current treatment regimens.”
“The collaborative work in this paper not only defines a common problem with current cancer therapy, but it actually offers a potential solution to reduce metastasis and tumor growth following therapy,” said Primo Lara Jr., director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and associate director of Translational Research. “I am pleased that our Center was involved in this exciting project and we hope we can be involved in translating this basic research to the clinic.”
Panigrahy said that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include aspirin and ibuprofen, reduce pain, fever and inflammation “bit may have severe side effects including stomach and brain bleeding as well as severe cardiovascular and kidney toxicity. They also do not specifically enhance clearing of debris.”
“We are exploring all options to translate PTUPB to cancer patients especially in combination with current cancer therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, or surgery which either directly or indirectly may generate tumor cell debris,” Panigrahy said. “Our next step is to investigate whether our findings are consistent with clinical studies involving human cancer.”
The Hammock lab has been researching the sEH inhibitor for 50 years. As a graduate student at UC Berkeley, Hammock co-discovered the sEH inhibitor with fellow graduate student Sarjeet Gill, now a distinguished professor at UC Riverside.
"We have a series of papers largely in PNAS, with the Panigrahy group showing first our soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitors block tumor growth and metastasis when used with omega3 fish oils or with COX inhibitors and the role for these compounds in regulating a number of mediators of cancer growth," Hammock said.
Multiple grants funded the research. Hammock, the 31-year director of the UC Davis Superfund Program, received funds the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences. The Panigrahy laboratory is funded by the Credit Union Kids at Heart Team. Other grants came from the C. J. Buckley Pediatric Brain Tumor Fund, Molly's Magic Wand for Pediatric Brain Tumors, the Markoff Foundation Art-in-Giving Foundation, the Kamen Foundation, Jared Branfman Sunflowers for Life, and the Joe Andruzzi Foundation. An NIH T32-training grant funded Gartung's work.
Allison Gartung completed her doctorate at Wayne State University in 2016 and has since served as a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School/BIDMC. Highly honored for her work, she won the highest award for a post-doctoral fellow (Santosh Nigam Award) at the 15th International Conference on Bioactive Lipids in Cancer, Inflammation and Related Diseases, held in 2017 in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. She served as a guest editor of a special double-issue of 24 invited world-experts in Cancer and Metastasis Reviews on Bioactive Lipids.
Dipak Panigrahy was accepted into medical school at Boston University at age 17. He trained in surgery with Dr. Roger Jenkins, who performed the first liver transplant in New England. Over the past decade, Panigrahy led angiogenesis and cancer animal modeling in the Judah Folkman laboratory. He joined the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2013, and in 2014 was appointed assistant professor of pathology, and currently has a laboratory in the Center for Vascular Biology Research. Panigrahy is the expert on the team for preclinical tumor models and examining novel concepts for cancer therapy at the preclinical stage –the diversity of models he has created and worked with is unmatched.
Bruce Hammock, UC Davis distinguished professor, is the world expert and discoverer of the dual COX2-sEH inhibitor. He received his doctorate in entomology/toxicology from UC Berkeley and joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980. Highly honored by his peers, Hammock is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, which honors academic invention and encourages translations of inventions to benefit society. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of scores of awards, including the Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism, sponsored by the America Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics; and the first McGiff Memorial Awardee in Lipid Biochemistry,
Mark Kieran of Bristol-Myers Squibb and Professor Vikas Sukhatme (Dean of Emory School of Medicine), both senior co-authors, are leading world-experts on personalized medicine approaches to support the treatment of cancer patients. Kieran is a leading oncologist with expertise in translating novel therapeutic modalities (beyond chemotherapy/irradiation) into the clinic. Plans for clinical trials involving PTUPB are underway.
Professor Sui Huang, with the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), is known as the world's leading expert on systems biology and debris-induced tumor growth.
Both are seeking a doctorate at the University of California, Davis. They differ in that Winokur focuses her research primarily on the yellow-fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, while Portilla's research involves Culex mosquitoes, which transmit West Nile virus and other diseases.
They are alike in that they share the passion of the late William Emery Hazeltine (1926-1994), who worked tirelessly in mosquito research and public health.
Hazeltine, a native of San Jose, was a U.S. Navy veteran who studied entomology at UC Berkeley and received his doctorate in entomology from Purdue University in 1962. He managed the Butte County Mosquito Abatement District, Oroville, from 1966 to 1992, and the Lake County Mosquito Abatement District from 1961-1964.
He was an ardent supporter of the judicious use of public health pesticides to protect public health, remembers Bruce Eldridge, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and former director of the (now folded) statewide UC Mosquito Research Program. Eldridge eulogized him at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) as "a man who made a difference." The AMCA journal published his eulogy in its 2006 edition. (See http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/files/154217.pdf)
"Bill was a medical entomologist who had a varied career in the field of mosquito biology and control, but he will forever be remembered as a man who fought in the trenches of the pesticide controversy from 1960 until the end of his life, and who made the safe and efficient use of pesticides in public health a personal crusade," Eldridge said.
In his memory, his three sons--Craig Hazeltine of Scottsdale, Ariz., Lee Hazeltine of Lincoln, formerly of Woodland, and the late Jeff Hazeltine (1958-2013)—established the UC Davis Bill Hazeltine Graduate Student Research Awards, awarding the first one in 1997. Each year they travel to Davis to honor the recipients at a luncheon, timed with their attendance at a scholarship and fellowship celebration, hosted by Dean Helene Dillard, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Science.
Winokur's funded project: “Identifying Aedes Mosquito Eggs Using Hyperspectral Imaging: a Rapid, Low-Cost, Non-Destructive Method to Improve Mosquito Surveillance and Control.”
Portilla's project: “The Management of Invasive Weeds and their Effects on Larval Culex mosquitoes.”
“Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are mosquitoes capable of transmitting dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and Zika viruses,” Winokur explained in her application. “These species are invasive and present in California and continue to spread, increasing the likelihood of local transmission of these devastating viruses. Additionally, Aedes notoscriptus, an Australian mosquito whose vector competence for many viruses is unknown, has been detected in Los Angeles and is likely to spread in the state. Aedesmosquitoes are readily detected using ovitraps, a cheap and effective sampling method to detect the presence of gravid females. Ovitraps are especially useful when mosquito populations are low as traps for adult Aedes are unreliable. Once collected, the eggs cannot be differentiated using a stereomicroscope. Traditionally, identifying Aedes eggs collected in ovitraps requires hatching and rearing to adult for visual identification, which is time consuming and leads to a time lag for control, potentially allowing invasive species to spread without intervention.”
Winokur is testing “the use of hyperspectral imaging to differentiate between eggs collected from lab colonies of native and invasive Aedes mosquitoes in California. Preliminary data indicate this method shows promise for identifying species and warrants further testing. Once I have created species-specific reflectance profiles and validated my identification method using colony eggs, I will collect field eggs and validate the identification method using these field eggs.” She is working with hyperspectral imaging expert Christian Nansen, agricultural entomologist and assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, on the project.
Winokur describes hyperspectral imaging as “a powerful tool that recognizes slight changes; therefore, we need to ensure that all samples are collected and conditioned the same way before testing. Samples must be imaged directly on the oviposition paper because exochorion cells are damaged by the ‘glue' the female uses to attach her eggs to the substrate; imaging removed eggs leads to inconsistent reflectance profiles. This method for rapidly identifying Aedes eggs will allow for quick response to the detection of invasive Aedes mosquitoes.”
Winokur is using the 2017 Hazeltine funds to improve identification of invasive Aedes mosquito eggs in California and to attend the 2017 American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference. She is also the newly announced recipient of a 2018 Hazeltine Student Research Award for $3,094, this time to investigate Aedes aegypti immune response to Zika virus.
A native of Long Beach, Calif., Olivia grew up in Laguna Niguel, Calif., where she focused on science at the Dana Hills High School Health and Medical Occupations Academy. She received her bachelor's degree in 2015 from Cornell University, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies and focusing on the environmental effects on human health. She enrolled in the UC Davis graduate program in 2016 as a Ph.D entomology student with a designated emphasis in the biology of vector-borne diseases. Earlier this year, Winokur received a three-year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
Maribel Portilla, currently writing her dissertation, said the three chapters will encompass: the management practices of the invasive exotic weeds, Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and how those practices impact mosquitoes and their habitat; herbicide use in managing those weeds and how herbicides affects the larval habitat; and the direct effects of herbicides on larval mosquito development.
Her goal: “to inform and create better techniques to reduce both mosquito and weed problems."
Like Winokur, Portilla is grateful for the Hazeltine research funds. “I am currently exploring some molecular/genetic techniques (PCR and sequencing) to identify the species of mosquitoes I collected in the different weed/habitat mesocosms, This will be funded by the Hazeltine award I received.”
Portilla, who calls the South Bay home (San Martin, Santa Clara County), holds a master's degree in public health from UC Berkeley, where “I was able to study health and disease within a larger context, and learned to consider the biological and the social determinants of disease.” Her area of expertise incorporates her love for biology and her strong interest in social issues.
“At UC Berkeley School of Public Health, I was able to study health and disease within a larger context, and learned to consider the biological and the social determinants of disease. As I completed my degree, I realized I really missed the research experiences I had as an undergraduate. So, I looked for a way to bridge my new-found passion for public health and basic science research. This led me to UC Davis, where I learned about One Health and am now pursuing a Ph.D in medical entomology. Medical entomology is a perfect example of a One Health field, where I can seek out how interactions between humans and animals impact health. I am particularly interested in researching how disease risk may change as people manipulate the environment."
Her academic life revolves around writing her dissertation; teaching UC Davis classes (she's taught entomology, general biology and One Health classes); research; and public outreach. Since 2012, she has mentored some 30 undergraduate students on developing and executing their research experiments. She praised the “the diversity of my interns; they each brought such important and unique perspectives to the project.”
What are her career plans?
“Due to my diverse interests and skill set, I am very open about my career choices. I have extensive teaching experience, and would love to be a professor with both teaching and research opportunities. However, there are many opportunities beyond academia. My research is introducing me to many other ways in which my work and research can help keep people safe and healthy. I hope to develop a strong research skill set while at UC Davis, and find a career path which takes advantage of my diverse abilities and love for One Health and Public Health."
Portilla mentioned pursuing a career as a teacher in a small liberal arts school to teach public health, general biology and global diseases classes, as well as do outreach and research. “I'm more of a scientist than an entomologist,” she said.
Portilla may also pursue a career working in vector-control health education at the county, district or state level. “I'm open at this point,” she said. Overall, she is geared toward improving public health outcomes through healthier environments. “I care about how outcomes affect the larger population,” she said.
“Bill Hazeltine was an advocate for the use of mosquito control to protect people from mosquitoes and the disease agents they transmit, and he believed chemical control to be a necessary part of the means to accomplish this,” wrote Eldridge, who valued his friendship. “He also considered himself an environmentalist, and billed himself as such on his business cards and on his signature block. He had a vast knowledge of pesticides and pesticide legislation, and a strong belief in the scientific basis for public policy issues related to the safe and effective use of pesticides. Because the federal Endangered Species Act influenced mosquito control, he became an authority on this as well."
“After Bill's death, I was contacted by his sons about the possibility of establishing a William Hazeltine Memorial Scholarship Fund at UC Davis,” Eldridge noted. “They believed this would represent an important contribution because of Bill's strong interest and support of medical entomology research, and because of Bill's admiration of UC programs in mosquito control. The fund has grown to the point where graduate student awards can now be funded just from the interest, and a number of students at UCD have benefited from the thoughtfulness of the Hazeltine family.”
The list of recipients:
- 2018: Olivia Winokur (newly announced)
- 2017: Maribel "Mimi" Portilla and Olivia Winokur
- 2016: Sandy Olkowski, Maribel “Mimi” Portilla and Stephanie Kurniawan
- 2015: Sandy Olkowski, Maribel “Mimi” Portilla and Stephanie Kurniawan
- 2014: Martha Armijos, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Glennon and Rosanna Kwok
- 2013: Jenny Carlson, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Glennon and Sandy Olkowski
- 2012: Jenny Carlson, Kelly Liebman and Sandy Olkowski
- 2011: Brittany Nelms Mills, Kelly Liebman and Jenny Carlson
- 2010: Tara Thiemann and Jenny Carlson
- 2009: Kelly Liebman and Wei Xu
- 2008: Ashley Horton and Tara Thiemann
- 2007: Lisa Reimer and Jacklyn Wong
- 2006: Christopher Barker and Tania Morgan
- 2005: Nicole Mans
- 2004: Sharon Minnick
- 2003: Hannah Burrack
- 2002: Holly Ganz and Andradi Villalobos
- 2001: Laura Goddard and Linda Styer
- 2000: Laura Goddard
- 1999: Linda Boose Styer
- 1998: Larisa Vredevoe
- 1997: John Gimnig
Agrawal, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell with a joint appointment in the Department of Entomology, will deliver the Founders’ Memorial Award lecture at the ESA’s 61st annual meeting set Nov. 10-13 in Austin, Texas.
The recipient of this annual award addresses the conferees to honor the memory and career of an outstanding entomologist. Agrawal has selected Dame Miriam Rothschild (1908-2005), best known for her work with mimicry, and a pioneer in the area of insect chemical ecology.
Agrawal researches plant-insect interactions, including aspects of herbivory, community ecology, phenotypic plasticity, chemical ecology and coevolution. Research projects include work on local biodiversity, ecology of invasive plants, the biology of Monarch butterflies, and the evolution of plant defense strategies.
From the ESA site:
"Dr. Agrawal’s research accomplishments cover the key areas of arthropod community genetics, real-time evolution of plant defense against insects, phylogenetic ecology, plant neighborhood-insect interactions, and insect colonization and induced defense. Over the course of his career to date, he has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers in high-profile journals such as PNAS, Science, and Nature, and he has edited two key books on insect ecology."
"In the relatively new area of arthropod community genetics, he has addressed natural selection on milkweed defensive traits and how plant genetic variation in these traits influences insect community structure and coexistence. In the area of real time evolution of plant defenses against insects, he has shown that the suppression of insect damage causes the evolution of decreased plant resistance and increased competitive ability. His work in the area of phylogenetic ecology uses a comparative biology approach to address problems ranging from the controls on the success of invasive species to phylogenetic signatures of coevolution. And in the area of plant neighborhood-insect interactions, his ongoing research seeks to partition the relative importance of direct, associational, and trait-mediated effects of competing plants on milkweed and its insect fauna."
Rothschild, a British natural scientist and a leading authority on fleas. authored a book on parasitism, Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos. Her father was entomologist Charles Rothschild, whose collection of fleas is in the Rothschild Collection at the British Museum.
"She is best known for her work with mimicry, and she conducted classic studies on the role of carotenoids in insect mimicry," according to information posted on the ESA website. "In addition to her work cataloging the famous Rothschild flea collection, Dame Rothschild was also a pioneer in the area of insect chemical ecology. Her work in particular on mimicry and sequestration of toxic compounds by insects was outstanding. Nature conservation was extremely important to her, and she lobbied strongly in favor of nature reserves."
Agrawal was at UC Davis in January of 2012 to deliver a seminar on "Evolutionary Ecology of Plant Defenses." His abstract: "In order to address coevolutionary interactions between milkweeds and their root feeding four-eyed beetles, I will present data on reciprocity, fitness tradeoffs, specialization and the genetics of adaptation. In addition to wonderful natural history, this work sheds light on long-standing theory about how antagonistic interactions proceed in ecological and evolutionary time."
Nearly 3,000 entomologists are expected to attend Entomology 2013. ESA, which has some 6500 members, is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. It was founded in 1889.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology has been renamed the Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Carolyn de la Pena, UC Davis interim vice provost for undergraduate education, relayed the message May 28 to interim dean Mary Delany of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
The faculty of the Department of Entomology and Department of Nematology had earlier proposed the consolidation of the two departments in response to a recommendation by the College for the elimination of the Department of Nematology. In the interim following consolidation, the name, “UC Davis Department of Entomology,” was used until university administrators approved the new name.
Of the 27 faculty members in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, five are nematologists.
Michael Parrella, professor of entomology, serves as the department chair, and nematologist Edwin Lewis, professor of both entomology and nematology and former interim chair of the UC Davis Department of Nematology, is the department’s vice chair. Professor Steve Nadler served as the last chair of the Department of Nematology.
Said Nadler: “Since approval of the consolidation of our departments nearly two years ago, our nematologists and entomologists have been working together and finding common ground to build upon prior successes. As the state economy improves and the university grows, I believe our newly named department will be successful in adding faculty positions that rebuild core research areas that were lost through faculty retirements.”
The UC Davis Department of Entomology began as an offshoot of the UC Berkeley Department of Entomology, while the UC Davis nematologists were closely linked with UC Riverside nematologists.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology traces its roots back to Oct. 30 1907 when UC Berkeley professor C. W. Woodworth spoke to the State Farmers' Institute in Davisville (now Davis) on the "Whitefly Situation in California." This was a forerunner to the Farmers' Short Courses (three-to-six-week courses) launched in the fall of 1908.
UC Davis established a two-year non-degree program in entomology in 1913 and its first degree in entomology in 1923-24 when Stanley Freeborn moved from Berkeley to Davis to head up this new and expanding program. The Davis campus began its administrative independence from Berkeley under Provost Freeborn (later chancellor) in 1952. R. M. Bohart became vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1957, and the following year, the College of Agriculture instituted the rotating-chair system. In the spring of 1960, entomology settled into its new quarters in Robbins Hall, and in 1971, moved into the newly built Briggs Hall, intended for biological sciences faculty and staff.
The history of the UC Davis Department of Nematology began in 1954 with the establishment of the Statewide Department of Plant Nematology, comprised of the UC Riverside and UC Davis nematologists. The University of California was the first academic institution to recognize nematology as a field of science separate from plant pathology, entomology or parasitology.
In 1962, research competency at the two sites broadened sufficiently for the university to approve of a name change from the Statewide Department of Plant Nematology to the Department of Nematology. In 1962, J. D. Radewald was appointed as a Cooperative Extension Specialist at UC Riverside. In 1965, statewide University administration embarked on a decentralization program, giving the individual campuses greater autonomy.
From 1965 onwards, the two nematology departments evolved independently. In 1969, D. E. Johnson was appointed as a Cooperative Extension Specialist at the San Joaquin Valley Research and Extension Center at Parlier.
UC Davis entomology and nematology faculty have received worldwide recognition for their research, teaching and public service.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, considered the top news and job-information source for college and university faculty members, administrators, and students, ranked the UC Davis Department of Entomology as the No. 1 in the country in 2007. Factors considered were remarkable performances in faculty scholarly productivity, scientific citations per faculty, percentage of faculty with a journal publication, number of journal publications per faculty, and grantsmanship, among other factors. (The rankings have not been updated since 2007.)
UC Davis is No. 1 in the world for teaching and research in the area of agriculture and forestry, according to rankings released this year by QS World University Rankings.
He will be honored at the consortium’s annual spring reception, set from 4:10 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 15in the Recreation Pool Lodge. Others honored will be Cecilia Colombi, Department of Spanish and Portuguese; Diana Davis, Department of History; Annaliese Franz, Department of Chemistry; and Archana Venkatesan, Department of Comparative literature and religious studies.
The outstanding mentor award provides “recognition and research money to faculty who have been outstanding in the mentoring of women graduate students and postdocs at UC Davis,” according to consortium director/sociology professor Laura Grindstaff.
Zalom was nominated by his graduate student Kelly Hamby, a doctoral candidate in entomology; colleague and research collaborator James Grieshop, Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus, Department of Human and Community Development; graduate student researcher Jennifer Sedell, Community Development and Geography Graduate Groups; and postdoctoral researcher Margareta Lelea, Department of Entomology, and Department of Human and Community Development.
Also supporting his nomination was Hillary Thomas of the California Strawberry Commission, who received her doctorate at UC Davis with Zalom as her major professor.
In her nomination letter, Hamby wrote that Zalom has served as a major professor for 11 doctoral students and six master’s degree students. “However, that does not even begin to enumerate the students whose lives he’s changed. His office is always open to students, whether they are undergraduates or graduates, his own students or someone else’s.”
Noting that women are showing an increased interest in entomology, Hamby pointed out that the number of women in the Entomological Society of America (ESA) has jumped from less than two percent membership in 1957 to 19 percent in 2011. Zalom is the elected vice president of 6000-member ESA and will serve as president in 2014.
“Frank strongly encourages women to be agricultural entomologists,” Hamby wrote. “Including myself, at least eight of his 11 Ph.D. students have been women. Not only does he encourage his students to excel in a field that is male dominated, but also to take academic positions, such as entomology faculty jobs, that continue to be male dominated today. Entomology programs average less than 15 percent female faculty and some of Frank’s best students have been the first female faculty in their departments.”
Under his mentorship, Hamby helped write five research grants, of which three were funded. He also helped her with networking and connections. She was invited to give three professional talks this year including a talk at the International Congress of Entomology in Daegu, South Korea.
Her research combines genomic and molecular biology techniques, fields that traditionally considered to be basic science with more traditional IPM. Zalom sought, and found, collaborators to help mentor her.
“Not only does Frank provide mentorship for me, but he encourages me to develop leadership and managerial skills by mentoring others,” Hamby wrote. “He encouraged me to interview and hire undergraduate students to help with my research and has allowed me to mentor them as young scientists.”
“Frank is an exceptional mentor because he genuinely cares about students,” Hamby said. “He considers his job to be like parenting, and accepting a new graduate student is accepting a new son or daughter. His mentorship does not end with the conferral of a degree. He stays in contact with all of his students, regardless of where their careers take them…he will make time to help them with whatever problem they are facing.”
“Frank has given me the courage and skills to attempt to become a faculty member in agricultural entomology, despite the challenges faced by my gender and the tough economic times,” Hamby said.
Grieshop, a retired Cooperative Extenson specialist in community education and a collaborator with Zalom for more than two decades, is currently working on a USDA-funded project with Zalom and Lelea and Sedell. The program targets two new moth species in California.
Zalom has “demonstrated excellent and consistent mentoring behaviors in a very challenging cross-disciplinary project,” Grieshop said, adding that Zalom’s interactions and relationships with graduate students and post-doctoral scholars have always been supportive, encouraging and extremely collaborative.”
His researchers “speak positively of his support, encouragement, openness to ideas and fairness,” Grieshop said. For example, Zalom encouraged Lelea and Sedell to present their preliminary findings to USDA personnel; to present their work at conferences; and to produce research papers beyond the project report.
“During our biweekly meetings, it is common to hear Dr. Zalom encourage them to go beyond the final report and even to offer support to do so,” Grieshop said. “All of these behaviors reflect Dr. Zalom’s commitment to these scholars and their futures in academia.”
Lelea praised Zalom’s “openness to new perspectives, respect for the skills and talents that each of us bring to the program, and eagerness to steadfastly support emerging scholars such as Jen Sedell and myself who are human geographers and many other graduate students and post-docs who are the new women leaders in the field of entomology.”
“As a mentor, he encourages us to believe in ourselves and set goals to publish, apply for grants and jobs, and to make connections,” Lelea wrote.
Lelea noted that one facet of her research involves the controversial spraying for light brown apple moth. “Many of the community activists that I interviewed expressed appreciation for the courage of Frank and others from UC Davis who testified at California State Senate hearings that the eradication goal of the spray program was scientifically untenable (further confirmed by a later National Academy of Sciences report).”
“One woman I interviewed said, ‘You have probably heard this from others, but UC Davis was absolutely astonishing for us. I mean the fact that Frank Zalom, and Jim Carey were able to stand up and question the program and say, wait a minute, look at this and look at that, was absolutely vital.’ ”
Sedell, seeking her master’s degree in community and regional development, lauded Zalom’s “outstanding mentorship and support to me as a graduate student, but he has also shown me how working across the biophysical and social sciences can produce meaningful and fruitful research.” He treats his graduate and post-doc researchers as “professionals who bring critical insight into the work at hand.”
“He is as excited to learn from students as we are from him,” Sedell wrote. “That sincerity, in respect, encouragement and engagement he offers students is his most marked trait.”
Zalom has “not only provided outstanding mentorship and support to me as a graduate student, but he has also shown me how working across the biophysical and social sciences can produce meaningful and fruitful research,” Sedell related.
Zalom, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1978, has served as a professor, entomologist in the Agricultural Experiment Station, and Extension entomologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology since 1980. He directed the UC Statewide IPM Program from 1986 to 2002.
His IPM leadership includes: co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) National IPM Committee since 1999, IPM representative to the APLU Science and Technology Committee since 2003, and USDA Western Region IPM Competitive Grants Program manager since 2004. He served on the USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) Board of Directors for the IPM CRSP (Collaborative Research Support Program) from 2001-05.
Zalom is a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences (1990), the ESA (2008), and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2010). He received a Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship (1992-93), the ESA Achievement Award in Extension (1992), the ESA Recognition Award (2002), the James H. Meyer Award from UC Davis for teaching, research and service (2004), the Entomological Foundation IPM Team Award (2008) and its Excellence in IPM Award (2010). He was the 2011 recipient of the C.W. Woodworth Award from the Pacific Branch. In addition, he served as Pacific Branch president (2001). Zalom has authored approximately 300 peer- reviewed journal articles, book chapters and books, including Food, Crop Pests, and the Environments published by the American Phytopathological Society Press.