Dyer was selected the recipient of the honorable mention award, or second place, in the highly competitive service award category of the Citation for Excellence program, for his service to the Bohart Museum, Department of Entomology and Nematology, and the public. He was nominated by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology; Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator of the Bohart, and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. (See Bug Squad blog)
Berks received a Staff Assembly scholarship to work toward her master's degree in cybersecurity at National University. A member of the Phoenix Cluster Information Technology (IT) team since December 2018, she recently accepted a promotion to join the Campus Information and Educational Technology (IET) Security Operations Center. Her last day with the Phoenix Cluster IT team was Sept. 2.
The annual Staff Assembly Award presentation took place Monday, Sept. 12 in the Alpha Gamma Rho Hall of the Walter J. Buehler Alumni Center. Awards presented included citations of excellence, a faculty and staff partnership award, and staff and staff dependent scholarships. (See list of award winners)
UC Davis Chancellor Gary May congratulated the recipients.
In his remarks, Chancellor May told the crowd: "This is truly an exciting time for UC Davis. I hope you heard that we were ranked #2 nationally among public universities in Washington Monthly's 2022 Guide and Rankings. On top of that, UC Davis retained its No. 4 public university ranking in America's Top College List 2022 by Forbes. In some places UC Davis is the top, such as No. 1 for sustainabilty. UC Davis is also ranked No. 1 in the nation for diversity, inclusiveness and internationalization. And, we recently set a university record by attracting more than $1 billion in annual research awards. Fewer than 20 universities in the country can claim this."
"I could go on," the chancellor continued, "but the fact of the matter is that we are doing great work at UC Davis, and each of you are a part of this effort. I know how important your expertise, experience and institutional memory are to advancing the university's success. It's sometimes difficult to appreciate how our individual contributions make a difference in the 'big picture.' But every day, the work of staff are critical to our university projects, our operations and our campus environment."
The chancellor pointed out: "These behind-the-scene efforts are what keep UC Davis humming and in tune with our mission of excellence in teaching, research and public service. They are a big part of what your university and Staff Assembly recognizes and thanks you for today. The individuals and teams we honor this afternoon have gone 'above and beyond' all expectations to make UC Davis a more enjoyable, creative, inclusive and invigorating place to work.
He added: "I am proud of all UC Davis staff, but the individuals and teams we honor this afternoon have gone above and beyond in contributing to the university's success. Thank you so much for your outstanding contributions to UC Davis. Our university is a better place today because of your accomplishments, because of your hard work and because of your inspiring dedication to excellence."
In all, the UC Davis Staff Assembly awarded individual honors in five categories for its Citation of Excellence program: innovation, mentorship, service, supervision, and teaching, as well as a team award and a faculty and staff partnership award. The Staff Assembly also awarded scholarships to campus and UC Davis Health staff and staff dependents.
Jennifer Jackson, chair of the UC Davis Staff Assembly, and Jana Avila, chair of the UC Davis Health Staff Assembly, welcomed the crowd. Jackson serves as the Academic Program analyst in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Dean's Office, and works with undergraduate student data for the college. Avila is the Affiliate Network manager.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's bee garden is the first on the list of the UC Davis Staff Assembly's "2022-23 Aggie Explorations" tours.
UC Davis staff are invited to register and participate on the Tuesday, Sept. 20 tour of the half-acre bee garden, known as the UC Davis Bee Haven. It is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the UC Davis campus. The event takes place from noon to 1 p.m. and is open only to staff.
UC Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the Department of Entomology and Nematology serves the faculty director of the garden, and Christine Casey is the academic program management officer.
The garden was planted in the fall of 2019 under the direction of interim department chair Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Häagen-Dazs was the primary donor. (See timeline and history of the garden.)
"The Honey Bee Haven will be a pollinator paradise," Kimsey related in December 2008. "It will provide a much needed, year-round food source for our bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. We anticipate it also will be a gathering place to inform and educate the public about bees. We are grateful to Haagen-Dazs for its continued efforts to ensure bee health."
The garden, Kimsey said, would include a seasonal variety of blooming plants that will provide a year-round food source for honey bees. It would be a living laboratory supporting research into the nutritional needs and natural feeding behaviors of honey bees and other insect pollinators. She added that visitors would be able to glean ideas on how to establish their own bee-friendly gardens and help to improve the nutrition of bees in their own backyards.
UC Davis Staff Assembly has scheduled five campus tours as part of its "A Taste of UC Davis," commemorating the UC Davis ranking as the nation's leading school in agriculture. The tours are open to staff only.
In addition to the UC Davis Bee Haven, venues include (see updates here):
- UC Davis Brewing Lab
Thursday, Oct. 27, Noon to 1 p.m.
- The Pantry
Thursday, Nov. 17, Noon to 1 p.m.
- UC Davis Student Farm
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, Noon to 1 p.m.
- Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science
Wednesday, Feb. 22, Noon to 1 p.m.
- UC Davis Meat Laboratory
- UC Davis Coffee Center
- UC Noel-Nordfelt Animal Science Goat Dairy and Creamery
"We are currently recruiting participants for our Breakfast with the Chancellor series!" noted Scott Loewen-Towner, UC Davis Staff Asssembly coordinator, conference and event services. The Breakfast with the Chancellor program is a unique opportunity for staff to meet with the Chancellor and fellow campus leaders to discuss topics that impact staff. Through this program, we invite staff to share ideas on how to improve processes, increase revenue, implement solutions to challenges experienced by staff, and more. Learn more and submit your interest form to attend Breakfast with the Chancellor."
In the highly competitive “service award” category of the UC Davis Staff Assembly's annual 2022 Citations of Excellence program, Dyer received the second-place honor or honorable mention. The university employs some 17,000 academic and administrative staff.
Dyer, who holds a bachelor's degree in entomology (2018) from UC Davis, began volunteering at the Bohart Museum in 2015, advanced to a paid internship in 2016, and then in 2018, accepted his current position as the lab assistant.
Dyer overcame three obstacles: a challenging childhood, a marriage that didn't work, and the loss of his home and hometown in the 2018 raging inferno in Paradise known as “The Camp Fire.” He successfully struggled from #ParadiseStrong to #DyerStrong.
“Ninety-five percent of the town is gone,” Paradise council member Michael Zuccolillo told the San Francisco Chronicle in a news story published Nov. 10, 2018. “The remaining 5 percent of buildings are barely standing. I felt like I was living in a bad dream. It was unrecognizable. I had to keep asking, ‘Where are we?' All the landmarks are gone. Block by block, nothing. Anybody who had a house in Paradise probably doesn't anymore.”
Love of Science. Dyer today credits his “love of science” with helping him overcome life's hardships. “And now in return, he inspires others to love science,” wrote his three nominators Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology; Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator; and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Kimsey described him as “bright, gifted and personable. It doesn't matter what needs to be done in the museum, curation, insect identification, live colony care, computer or software issues, and working with student volunteers, he takes care of it. It is so rare to find someone who can do some of these tasks so well, much less all of them like he can.”
Another faculty member added this to the nomination packet: “(Brennen) is what I would generally characterize as a servant leader, defined by a philosophy and practice that aims to enrich the lives of the people. He works to build a better organization, and create a more caring environment for everyone. He is an exceptionally hard worker who is always available to assist students, staff, volunteers alike.”
An alumnus: “(Brennen) is incredible. He is intelligent, meticulous and proactive, and goes above and beyond to assist peers and colleagues. For example, when I was finishing my PhD thesis, I needed photos of insect specimens to add to my last chapter, but I had neither the time nor the skills to utilize our modern microscope to photograph specimens. He generously offered to help, and did so perfectly and quickly. If he hadn't been so reliable and proactive, I wouldn't have been able to finish my PhD in time.”
Accolades. Other comments from faculty and colleagues:
- “Frankly, we do not know what we would do without him. He is that exemplary. He is always kind, courteous, respectful, reliable, flexible, and eager to help with any project. When you ask for a favor or task from him, you can count on it being done promptly and correctly.”
- “(Brennen) steps up to difficult tasks, such as taking the lead in a landmark, three-year, federally funded project of surveying and databasing insects from three counties in the Sacramento River Delta (to date, 700 species, including 30 new species). He does it all, from organizing collections, coordinating field trips, and training interns, to helping graduate students, faculty and peers with equipment, including the GIGAmacro system and freeze freeze dryer; and assisting them with their projects and publications, such as imaging holotypes and photographing specimens for their publications. With BioQuip closed and supplies scarce, he even designs collecting equipment!”
- “He also serves as the unofficial IT specialist. (Brennen), who learned to dismantle and resassemble computers as a child, troubleshoots the office computers and printers, and assists with the website.
- “He volunteers to drive hundreds of miles to bring back collections, donations or other materials. He eagerly supports UC Davis Picnic Day, (Bohart) open houses, and UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. He engages with visitors, showing them displays, answering their questions, and encouraging them to ask more!”
- “(Brennen) strongly supports diversity, equity and inclusion. When a colleague's developmentally disabled aunt arrived for a tour, he noticed her limitless enthusiasm and curiosity for insects, so he headed to the Arboretum to bring back a male Valley carpenter bee (a blond, green-eyed bee known as a ‘teddy bear bee') and let the aunt hold it (note that ‘boy bees don't sting') before releasing it. Her joy, glee and excitement were as unforgettable as (Brennen's) kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity.”
- “(Brennen) has been an anchor to the museum, especially these last COVID years. We are a small team who tries to do big things. (Brennen) is the glue that holds everything together and gets the job done. He supports all aspects of the (workplace) from research to outreach and education. He is tireless and very deserving of recognition. He is not someone who likes to step into the limelight, but is definitely behind the scenes making everything happen smoothly. He is also just a caring and kind co-worker and sensitive to inclusivity and equity.”
In summary, the nominators wrote that (Brennen) “epitomizes the excellence of our UC Davis workforce.”
Dyer said he is humbled and honored to be singled out for the award.
The judging criteria in the service award category included
- Provides exemplary services to students, staff, faculty and/or general campus
- Makes notable contributions to the department and/or campus
- Creates and maintains high morale
- Embodies the Principles of Community
In all, the UC Davis Staff Assembly awarded individual honors in five categories: innovation, mentorship, service, supervision, and teaching, as well as a team award and a faculty and staff partnership award. The judges also awarded scholarships to staff and staff dependents. (See award winners)
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946 and located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses a global collection of eight million insects. It also maintains a live “petting zoo” (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas) and an insect-themed gift shop.
Hack won an award in the highly competitive Individual Service Award category, announced Lauren Thomas and Darolyn Striley, co-chairs of the Staff Assembly's Citations of Excellence Committee.
Lisa Papagni, assistant director of Student Housing and Dining Services, won the Individual Service Award in the campuswide competition. Hack, a student academic advisor II, received an honorable mention along with Jaqueline Dyson, administrative assistant III in the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.
The annual Citation for Excellence Program singles out outstanding staff for their exemplary work in one of four areas: innovation, research, supervision and service. They all receive monetary prizes and certificates.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter will present the awards to seven individuals and four teams. All are nominated confidentially. Also celebrated at the invitation-only event will be winners of staff scholarships and staff dependent scholarships.
Three affiliates of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology nominated Hack for the award: forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, master advisor for the animal biology major; chief administrative officer Nora Orozco, her supervisor; and communications specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey.
They wrote that Hack, a 17-year academic advisor at UC Davis, goes above and beyond to advocate for and mentor students. Hack empathizes with the needs of others, an empathy honed by her own life experiences and the desire to “pay it forward.” As a youth--the daughter of farmworkers--she toiled in agricultural fields in Dixon, picking bell peppers and sorting tomatoes. And as a single parent/high school dropout, she cleaned houses for a living. Her life took a sharp career turn when two of her clients, a UC Davis professor and his wife, encouraged her to finish high school and attend business college. They loaned her money for an electric typewriter. Ever since then, Hack, the beneficiary of a good deed never forgotten, has vowed to “pay it forward”--to help others as others have helped her.
Kimsey, the master faculty advisor of the animal biology program, says “Elvira is likely the best academic advisor ever. Not only is she completely conversant with all the rules and regulations of the major, but understands the latitude of flexibility built into their application in a very human way. She is connected with all the administrative functionaries necessary to efficiently accomplish any task in a timely manner. For the confused or troubled student, she is the first and last resort for the solution of problems not only of an academic or administrative kind but those of a deeply personal nature as well. She keeps them on track, outlining their options, helping them decide on their future professions, and the direction their life should take. She has been invaluable to me as the master advisor. She really does care about a student's fate. Moreover we have had great fun doing these tasks together.”
Orozco related that Hack creates a welcoming environment, meeting individually with students to help them through the many hurdles at UC Davis. She is warm, caring and compassionate, she wrote. When a student comes in with serious issues, Hack calms them, encouraging them to be the best you can. She tells them: “If you are doing the best you can, you're doing great.”
Hack “provides resources to help them,” her nominators wrote. If they're feeling depressed, she will encourage them with “Look at everything you've accomplished!”
Her students describe her as kind, generous, trustworthy and helpful. They seek assistance on issues ranging from homesickness, roommate discord, financial strife and food insecurities, to sexual assault, domestic abuse and suicidal thoughts.
“During my first quarter as a transfer student, I went through some extreme life changes and emotional rollercoasters,” wrote one student. “I would end up in her office crying my eyes out and in distraught, but she always calmed me down and helped me reach out for other help to get me through my rough patch.”
Another student described Hack “as by far the most helpful, kind and encouraging adviser I have met at UC Davis. Being a first generation college student, I require extra help in understanding and executing graduation requirements and other criteria for my future career goals.”
Elvira Galvan Hack was hired in October 2007 as the new undergraduate staff advisor for the animal biology major, then located in the Department of Nematology. "In 2007 we were the Department of Plant Pathology and Nematology," Hack recalled, "and Professor Ed Lewis (now with the University of Idaho) was the master advisor. Plant Pathology and Nematology had never had an undergraduate major--only graduate programs."
"In 2007 when I was hired, I was given the opportunity to start our undergraduate advising office from scratch," she said. "I worked on putting procedures together for our new advising practices. I contacted students and we put a new list serve together. I contacted each of our students and introduced myself, letting them know where their new advising office was located." She engaged in "one-on-one advising with each of our students in order to get to know them and to get information on how we as a department, and I as their advisor, could serve them better."
Hack held an open house in the winter and spring quarters. She designed an information seminar about the major requirements; explained academic planning changes; and redesigned the order in which they should take classes to enable them to complete their degree in the standard time.
The awards ceremony also will honor four other individual winners of Citation for Excellence awards:
Innovation: Laura Young, student affairs officer, Graduate Studies
Honorable Mention: Shawn DeArmond, web architect, Information and Educational Technology (IET) Enterprise Applications and Infrastructure Services
Research: Jennie Konsella-Norene, assistant director of Global Professional Programs, Global Affairs
Supervision: Bradley Harding, interim director of Enterprise Student Applications, IET Enterprise Student Applications
Winners of the four team awards—all equal winners—are Veteran Self-Identification Campaign Working Group; Dairy Teaching and Research Staff Team; Financial Aid and Scholarships Information Technology (IT) Team; and UC Davis Library Human Library Committee Services (See list of team members)
DAVIS--Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, is the recipient of the top award in the service category of the UC Davis Staff Assembly's Citation for Excellence Program. She will be honored by the chancellor at a ceremony on June 26.
Yang, who joined the Bohart Museum nine years ago, coordinates museum tours, classroom visits, special weekend hours, summer camp programs, and other outreach activities that connect science and scientists with the public. She collaborates with interns, undergraduates, staff, graduate students and faculty to accomplish the outreach program.
Stacey Brezing, chair of the UC Davis Staff Assembly Citations of Excellence Committee, wrote to Yang: “It gives me great pleasure to notify you that you have been selected as the top selection for this category, the committee was greatly impressed with your work."
Yang will receive a cash prize of $1000 as a “gesture of appreciation for your contribution to the campus community,” Brezing said.
Nominations for the service award are based on achievements such as fostering engagement and inclusion in campus community, leadership, and volunteerism.
Yang was nominated, confidentially, by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis; senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum, and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
They wrote: “Our nominee is a treasure, a one-of-a-kind gem and an all-around ambassador who exemplifies all that is good and great about UC Davis. A friendly and caring person who joined the campus museum workforce in 2009, she makes all of us feel needed, wanted, and appreciated as if we were ‘Person of the Year.' Throughout the year, she engages more than 20,000 children, families, students, faculty and staff who visit the museum or attend her science outreach programs. She enthusiastically and freely gives of her time to plan and participate in weekend open houses. She co-founded the annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day six years ago, which this year drew 12 participating museums and an attendance of 3000. This year she chaired the committee.
“Five years ago, she launched an annual summer camp for children that is so popular it draws youths from around the nation, resulting in multiple camps and waiting lists. She helps coordinate the UC Davis Picnic Day activities in the museum, engaging more than 3500 excited and enthusiastic visitors. At the Solano County Ag Day, she shared scientific information with 3000 youngsters over a four-hour period, always smiling and genuinely interested in each person.
“Our nominee is kind, caring, thoughtful and never without a smile or a word of encouragement. She strongly believes in inclusion. For example, she wears a safety pin, a way of showing that she is a safe space for those who are afraid. She shows she is in solidarity with victims of racism, homophobia and religious discrimination and will protect everyone who feels in danger, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, disability or religion. 'You are safe with me!'
“We watched her lead a tour of children of migratory workers, educating them about what could be a lifelong interest or their occupation. ‘You can be anything you want to be. You can do this! We know you can!' She can reach the shyest of the shy.
“One volunteer at the museum says ‘Wherever I go, her name is legendary. People just rave about her and her work.' Said another: ‘She is one of the most patient, outgoing individuals I know who loves to teach and share information.'
“Said her supervisor: ‘She has greatly expanded our outreach programs, participating in Solano County Youth Ag Day, and many other STEM programs offered at libraries, schools and county facilities. She gives science outreach programs to about 15,000 adults and children every year. She is particularly good at working with groups of children and maintaining discipline at the same time as engaging them in the topic, so that everyone can see, hear and learn. We always request an evaluation from groups she talks to and they always rave about her presentations.'
“In summary, our nominee's exemplary service, high morale, encouragement, passion and inclusion are a treasure-trove of qualities that single her out as the gem she is.
The Staff Assembly's annual Citations for Excellence Awards Program provides recognition for individual staff and staff teams who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in one of the following areas: teaching, research, service, supervision and innovation. There is also a team award for campus community contributions and service. Teams include project or program staff, office staff, or other similar groups.
The Bohart Museum is a world-renowned insect museum that houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and tarantulas. A gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.