Posts Tagged: UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
It's a 14-letter word but many people consider it a four-letter word.
Wikipedia defines it as a "a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine...In the late 2000s some neonicotinoids came under increasing scrutiny over their environmental impacts. The use of neonicotinoids was linked in a range of studies to adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) and loss of birds due to a reduction in insect populations. Several countries restricted or banned the use of certain neonicotinoids."
"In the U.S., neonicotinoids are currently used on about 95 percent of corn and canola crops, the majority of cotton, sorghum, and sugar beets, and about half of all soybeans," according to Wikipedia. "They are also used on the vast majority of fruit and vegetable crops, including apples, cherries, peaches, oranges, berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, and potatoes. Neonicotinoids are also applied to cereal grains, rice, nuts, and wine grapes. Imidacloprid is effective against sucking insects, some chewing insects, soil insects and is also used to control fleas on domestic animals. It is possibly the most widely used insecticide, both within the neonicotinoids and in the worldwide market."
Neonics, as they're called, will be front center stage in Portland, Ore. at the Entomological Society of America's student debates on Tuesday, Nov. 18. It's the 62nd annual ESA meeting. Distinguished professor Frank Zalom, an integrated pest management specialist in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, serves as president of the 7000-member organization.
Several different topics will be debated. For the debate on neonics, it will be UC Davis graduate students vs. graduate students from Auburn University, Alabama.
For months now, the graduate students have been reading the literature, talking to experts, and setting strategies.
We listened in on a practice debate Thursday night in the third-floor conference room of Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The team is captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee of the Larry Godfrey lab, and coached by Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the department. Other team members are Jenny Carlson, Anthony Cornel lab; Margaret "Rei" Scampavia, Neal Williams/Edwin Lewis lab; Ralph Washington Jr., Steve Nadler lab; and Daniel Klittich, Michael Parrella lab.
They scrutinized a PowerPoint, making sure every word was clear and exactly the one they wanted. They searched for more resources, pointing out which scientist published what significant paper and when and where. Extension apicuturist (retired) Eric Mussen of UC Davis was there to assist with his expertise on honey bees and pesticides.
We won't tell you what the strategies are--that would be a "spoiler." Suffice it to say that this controversial topic promises to be lively. The Auburn team, comprised of Olufemi Ajayi, Adekunle Adesanya, Julian Golec, Matt Burrows, Scott Clem and, Z. Ye and advised by David Held, will argue that neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops, and will advocate that the use of neonicotinoids should end. UC Davis will take the opposing view.
The 2013 UC Davis team, also captained by Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, won the ESA championship. They hope for a repeat. They're good; they've won every match since 2011 except one.
Aghaee is deeply involved in ESA activities. A participant in the student debates and Linnean Games teams for four years, he also participates in the student 10-minute paper competitions, covering such topics as Lygus bug movements in bush beans, efficacy of Bacillus thuringiensis spp. galleriae against rice water weevil, and preliminary research on winter flooding effectiveness against rice water weevil. Last year he won first place for his winter flood presentation.
Aghaee, whose major professor is Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey, is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate working on rice water weevil (Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus) management in California rice. The majority of Aghaee's dissertation research is dedicated toward developing alternative management options for growers. “I have examined the use of Bacillus thuringiensis spp. galleriae as a biopesticide for rice water weevil and explored the mechanisms of winter flooding rice fields as a cultural control against weevil larvae," Aghaee related. "I am currently examining the possible role of silicon augmentation as a means of increasing rice tolerance to weevil damage and the potential threat of Brown marmorated stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) to California rice."
A Renaissance kind of guy, Aghaee has secondary interests in post-Renaissance European history and contemporary Middle Eastern politics. He explores some of these themes in his freshman seminar titled "Bugs, Germs, and Steel: A History of Entomology in Warfare" where he and his colleagues teach students how basic scientific research and ecology has influenced human conflicts and technological progress. Outside of entomology, his leisure activities include oil painting, language acquisition, and culinary specialization in Persian and Indo-Pakistani cuisines.
Stay tuned for who won the debate and what they said. Their work will be published in the journal, American Entomologist.
This honey may or may not have been poisoned by neonics, but it's definitely "under the weather." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, captain of the UC Davis debate team, leads a discussion at a practice Nov. 13 in Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
But "citizen scientist" is a catchy term, all the same. Basically, it's the public engagement in scientific research activities.
“Citizen Science is a powerful tool that scientists can use to harness the power of the public,” says entomologist Andrea Lucky. "Public participation in science offers both scientific and educational benefits, including the possibility of massive and openly accessible data. This approach holds the promise of a new way of doing science and a new way of learning science, but also poses challenges of organization, quality control and funding. Two projects, the School of Ants and Backyard Bark Beetles were developed to address the main concerns with Citizen Science projects, and demonstrate how modern public participation in science can be an effective tool for teaching science and investigating topics including, but not limited to biodiversity, invasive species, population genetics, and systematics.” (Read what Entomology Today says about citizen science and Andrea Lucky's role. Also check out her citizen science projects on her website.)
Lucky, an assistant research scientist with the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida--she received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, working with major professor/ant specialist Phil Ward--will speak on "From Pavement Ants to Population Genetics: Citizen Science Today and Tomorrow" on Wednesday, May 28 at a seminar hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Her talk, from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, is scheduled to be recorded for later viewing on UCTV.
A native of Chicago, Andrea Lucky grew up in Cincinnati, graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and then spent two years as a Fulbright scholar studying insects in Ecuador. Her insect talks are numerous. She was an invited speaker at the 2012 International Congress of Entomology, Daegu, South Korea, Aug 2012. She has also presented her work at the Entomological Society of America (ESA), and Pacific Branch of ESA and has taught numerous classes, seminars and workshops. At UC Davis, she designed a course on “Insects and the Media,” which she taught in the spring of 2006 and the fall of 2008. In 2009, she won a UC Davis outstanding graduate student teaching award, presented to her by the chancellor.
One of her goals is to "make science accessible and available to the general public, particularly to make the process of 'doing' science accessible to non-scientists."
A noble and worthwhile goal, indeed.
Formica moki, a native ant, frequents Yolo County gardens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee and a velvety tree ant. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
All in a two-day period...
Internationally recognized entomologist May Berenbaum, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will present two Storer Lectures next week at UC Davis. Both are free and open to the public.
The first is billed as a "public" lecture (as opposed to "scientific" lecture) on Tuesday, May 20 on "Bees in Crisis: Colony Collapse, Honey Laundering and Other Problems Bee-Setting American Apiculture" at 4:10 p.m. in Ballrooms A and B of the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane.
The second is a scientific lecture on Wednesday, May 21 on "Sex and the Single Parsnip: Coping with Florivores and Pollinators in Two Hemispheres." This will take place at 4:10 p.m. in Ballrooms A and B of the UC Davis Conference Center.
Both are sponsored by the Storer Endowment in Life Sciences, College of Biological Sciences.
May Berenbaum--appropriately she's speaking in May!--is a talented scientist, dedicated researcher, dynamic speaker, creative author, and an insect ambassador and all-around general bug lover. In fact, we can't think of anything she doesn't do well. Ever heard of Ninety-Nine Gnats, Nits and Nibblers? Or Ninety-Nine More Maggots, Mites and Munchers? Those are her books. Ever heard of "Buzzwords: A Scientist Muses on Sex, Bugs, and Rock 'n' Roll? Hers. Bugs in The System: Insects And Their Impact On Human Affairs? Hers, too.
We first heard May Berenbaum speak several years ago at a meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Come 2016, she will head the 7000-member organization and become the fifth female president. (Integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is the current president.)
Berenbaum, however, is the first ESA president to have a fictional TV character named after her: Bambi Berenbaum from The X-Files.
Her deep interest in insects led to her founding the University of Illinois' Insect Fear Film Festival, a celebration of Hollywood's "misperceptions" of insect biology, an outreach activity now entering its 32nd year.
Berenbaum focuses her research on the chemical interactions between herbivorous insects and their host plants, and the implications of these interactions on the organization of natural communities and the evolution of species. In addition to her pioneering research, she is devoted to teaching and to fostering scientific literacy to the general public, authoring numerous magazine articles, as well as three books on insect fact and folklore.
As as a spokesperson for the scientific community on the honey bee colony collapse disorder, Berenbaum has conducted research, written op-ed essays and testified before Congress on the issue.
Among her many honors, she is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Ecological Society of America, Entomological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
In 2011 Berenbaum was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, an international award that recognizes "those individuals who have contributed in an outstanding manner to scientific knowledge and public leadership to preserve and enhance the environment of the world."
In recognition of her research and her efforts in promoting public understanding of science, she has received many awards, including the 2010 AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science. She also received the1996 Distinguished Teaching Award from the North Central Branch of ESA.
Some biographical information:
Born in Trenton, N.J., Berenbaum received her bachelor's degree in biology from Yale University in 1975 and her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980. She joined the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in August 1980 and has served as president since 1992 and as Swanlund Professor of Entomology since 1996.
Her work has been reported in more than 220 refereed scientific papers and 35 book chapters. Recent service to her profession includes membership on the editorial boards of four journals and terms on the National Academy of Sciences Council and Governing Board, the National Research Council Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science and Creationism, and the Advisory Board of the Koshland Museum of the National Academy of Sciences.
Berenbaum has chaired two National Research Council study committees, including most recently the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America. Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy, she has written many magazine articles, as well as six books about insects for the general public. She is also in demand as a speaker, addressing more than 100 schools, service organizations, museums, science and nature centers, and special interest organizations. She is also a favorite of the news media for insect-related news stories.
Berenbaum's campus host will be Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He can be reached at mpparrella@ucdavis or (530) 752-0492.
As for the Tracy and Ruth Storer Lectureship in the Life Sciences, it is considered the most prestigious of the endowed seminars at UC Davis. Established in 1960, the lectureship is funded through a gift from Professor Tracy I. Storer and Dr. Ruth Risdon Storer. Tracy Storer was the founding chair of the UC Davis Department of Zoology. Ruth Risdon Storer was Yolo County's first female pediatrician. The Storer Garden in the UC Davis Arboretum bears her name.
If you miss Berenbaum's talks, plans call for recording them for later posting on UCTV.
May Berenbaum will deliver two seminars at UC Davis May 20-21.
Maggot Art. Yes, you read that right. Maggot Art.
It's a traditional and popular part of the Department of Entomology and Nematology's many activities at Picnic Day. This year the UC Davis Picnic Day is Saturday, April 12, and the Briggs Hall events take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Maggot Art is especially for children, but anyone can participate. You grab a special pair of forceps, pick up a maggot, dip it into non-toxic, water-based paint and let it crawl around on white paper. Voila! Maggot Art. Suitable for framing!
Rebecca O'Flaherty, former entomology doctoral candidate at UC Davis, coined and trademarked the term in 2001 while a student at the University of Hawaii. She was organizing a community outreach program and seeking ways to teach youngsters about insects. Not to hate them. Not to fear them. To respect them and learn about them.
Maggot Art was the way. Her way. It worked.
"I love my work and being able to share my love with so many people has truly been a joy," she told us in an interview back in 2007. "I tend to target young elementary students, second and third graders, because I find that at that age, most children are enthusiastic, uninhibited and extremely open to new ideas. They haven't developed aversions to insects, and we're able to instill in them an appreciation for and interest in all organisms, no matter how disgusting those organisms may be perceived to be."
Some adults find maggots revolting, she acknowledged. "A few parents have pulled their children away with a 'Eeew!' and 'Don't touch that!'"
Since 2001, O'Flaherty has taught thousands of students, ranging from kindergarteners to college students to law enforcement professionals. She even showcased her own Maggot Art at a 2007 art show in the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento. Some art critics compared her work to that of American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock.
While at UC Davis, O'Flaherty studied with major professor/forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey. Although she no longer participates in Picnic Day's Maggot Art, her art continues.
UC Davis entomology undergraduate and graduate students now guide little hands in creating art that is like no other.
Some youngsters are concerned about the welfare of the maggots (no maggots are harmed in the making of the paintings) and a few ask to take the maggots home.
Just the art work goes home, thank you. No maggots, please.
A maggot dipped in water-based, non-toxic paint crawls on paper. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Frankly, who would want to attend a picnic WITHOUT bugs?
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is gearing up for the 100th annual campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, set from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 12.
Come one, come all.
Bugs, too. Bugs at Briggs. Bugs at Bohart.
That would be Briggs Hall and the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Lots of fun and educational activities revolving around insects will be offered, according to forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, coordinator of the activities at Briggs Hall, and Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum.
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is home to nearly 8 million insect specimens. It also features a live “petting zoo” where visitors can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a rose-haired tarantula and walking sticks. The focus on Picnic Day will be "recently discovered and insects that are threatened and extinct," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum.
At Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive, the popular events will include maggot art (suitable for framing--at least for posting on your refrigerator), termite trails, cockroach races and honey tasting, as well as displays featuring forensic, medical, aquatic, apiculture and forest entomology. Exhibits also will include such topics as fly fishing/fly-tying, insect pests of ornamentals, and pollinators of California. In addition, you'll see bug sampling equipment.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, coordinator of the honey tasting, will share six varieties of honey: Almond, yellow starthistle, leatherwood, cultivated buckwheat, safflower and “wild oak.” Each person will be given six toothpicks to sample the varieties.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will provide a display in front of Briggs Hall. Visitors can learn about managing pests in their homes and garden. In addition, live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) will be distributed to children.
Plans also call for a “Bug Doctor” to answer insect-related questions from the public. That's called "bugging the Bug Doctor."
Briggs Hall beckons with bugs on UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey tasting will include almond, yellow starthistle, leatherwood, cultivated buckwheat, safflower and “wild oak." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Maggot art is a popular attraction at Briggs Hall. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Picnic goers can get up close and personal with walking sticks at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)