Posts Tagged: Frank Zalom
The new UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's graduate student is an incredible success story who hurdled the obstacles heaved in her path and lets nothing—absolutely nothing--block her education, enthusiasm, research or goals.
The first thing you notice is her unbridled enthusiasm, whether she's monitoring Virginia Creeper leafhoppers or parasitized leafhopper eggs in a UC Davis research vineyard, or sharing insect photos of everything from assassin bugs to praying mantids.
Preto, a former foster care youth, turned a disadvantaged childhood into a college diploma, and a college diploma into graduate school.
“I'm the first in my family to graduate from college and to attend graduate school,” said Preto, who calls Los Angeles “home.”
In June, UC Davis awarded her a bachelor's degree in viticulture and enology with an entomology minor in agricultural pest management. Now she's studying for her master's degree in entomology with major professor and integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“I first met Cindy in my Entomology 110 class, Arthropod Pest Management,” Zalom recalled. “She was usually the last student to leave the diagnostic labs each week, and one time she apologized to me for staying so long. She said that she had been out of school and working for a while so she wanted to get the most out of her classes.”
“She was a viticulture and enology major,” Zalom said. “We discussed having her do an undergrad research project on grapes, so she applied for and received a MURALS (Mentorship for Undergraduate Research in Agriculture, Letters and Science) scholarship which allowed her to conduct a project in my lab.”
Her project? The development of the invasive European grapevine moth. Preto conducted her research in the Contained Research Facility on campus with co-advisors Spencer Walse and Dave Bellamy of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. Like Zalom, they praised her “excellent work ethic and enthusiasm.”
Preto has presented her research at the UC Davis Undergrad Research Conference and at the ESA's 2013 national meeting on “The Effects of Temperature on the Chronological Distribution of European Grapevine Moth's (Lobesia botrana) Life Stages from Egg Eclosion.” Next she'll present her undergraduate research at the ESA's 2014 meeting and is currently preparing a manuscript as a co-author for publication.
On Saturday, Sept. 27 Preto will represent the Zalom lab at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on “How To Be an Entomologist” from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.” She'll show visitors what leafhoppers and parasitized eggs look like.
“I am currently doing a biological survey of Virginia Creeper leafhopper in vineyards, looking at the population dynamics of all life stages, egg, nymphs, and adults,” Preto said.
The Virginia Creeper is one of three leafhoppers that she's studying in her population dynamics research. The others are the Western grape leafhopper and the Variegated leafhopper. They're all about the same size: 2 millimeters. In rearing eggs from nymphs to adults, she knows the distinguishing characteristics of each.
Zalom admires her enthusiasm, commitment and professionalism. “I was not seeking another grad student, but I couldn't help but accept Cindy into my lab when she decided that she would like to pursue a master's degree,” Zalom recalled. “Her project on leafhoppers associated with grapes fits her goals of working again in the grape industry when she completes her degree. Her enthusiasm for learning hasn't changed, and her research has been proceeding very well.”
Indeed it has. She's also drawing widespread attention as a scholar. She received a Peter J. Shields Scholarship in September 2011; a Wine Spectator scholarship in September 2012; the MURALS research scholarship in November 2012; a Syngenta Scholarship, June 2013; a Wine Spectator Scholarship in October 2013; and an Orange County Wine Society Scholarship in October 2013.
Preto also participates in the new UC Davis program, Guardian Professions Program or GPP, which is open to Masters/Ph.D students who are former foster care youth. And, she continues to participate in the Guardian Scholars Program or GSP, open to all UC Davis students who were cared for in foster homes. GSP students offer support for one another and also to current and former foster care youth in local high schools and community colleges by offering UC Davis campus tours, outreach, interactive activities, and speaking on panels to share their story in hopes of encouraging former foster care youth to seek higher education.
A world traveler, she has journeyed to all seven continents, all 50 states, and to 59 countries. "It can be inexpensive," she said. Along the way, she's taken scores of images of insects.
Preto takes a multi-disciplinary approach to not only her research but life in general, eager to know, learn and share. She figuratively skips to work, excitedly looking forward to new entomological finds. She's recorded and photographed not only leafhoppers, but assassin bugs, minute pirate bugs, stink bugs, lace bugs, mites, thrips, damselflies, dragonflies, moths, bees, wasps, spiders (jumping spiders and black widows), whiteflies and praying mantids.
When Preto is not out in the field monitoring insects, you'll usually find her reading about them or studying them in the lab—weekends included. “It's extremely fascinating,” she said.
Her career goal? To work for a vineyard in a pest and disease management position, preferably in an organic grape or sustainable vineyard. Another goal: to receive her Pest Control Adviser license.
“I love it,” she said.
UC Davis graduate student Cindy Preto is studying vineyard leafhoppers. (Photo by Liam Swords)
Cindy Preto, shown here in a UC Davis vineyard, is the first in her family to graduate from college. She's now a master's student, studying with Frank Zalom. (Photo by Liam Swords)
Sticky traps in the vineyard. (Photo by Cindy Preto)
Rachel Graham, a master's student in entomology at the University of California, Davis who loves photographing insects, recently submitted an image of a blue dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis, for the Entomological Society of America's 2014 World of Insects calendar.
Dashing news! It won a well-deserved spot in the calendar. It's the June "bug." The worldwide competition drew more than 400 photos from 84 photographers. Each attendee at ESA's 61st annual meeting, held Nov. 10-13 in Austin, Texas, received a calendar. (More calendars are available.)
Graham studies with integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Frank Zalom, newly inducted president of the nearly 7000-member ESA. (Zalom is only the second-ever ESA president from UC Davis.)
Graham captured the image at the Archbold Biological Station in Venus, Fla., in August 2010 when she was participating in a BugShot photography workshop organized by noted insect photographer/entomologist Alex Wild of Illinois. Wild, who received his doctorate in entomology from ant specialist Phil Ward, UC Davis professor of entomology, writes the popular Myrmecos blog and the Compound Eye blog for Scientific American.
Graham recalled that she photographed the blue dasher "on the very first day of the workshop" with her Canon 60D and a 100mm macro lens, shooting at an ISO of 200, f-stop of 6.3 and a shutter speed of 1/40. No flash. No tripod.
The dragonfly species is widespread throughout North America. It's common, but Rachel Graham's photo isn't!
This isn't Rachel Graham's first major photography honor, either. One of her images made the Cornell Ornithology Celebrate Urban Birds 2011 calendar. And earlier this year, she won the People’s Choice Award at the 6th annual UC Davis Graduate Student Symposium in Ecology. Her winning photo depicted a jumping spider eating a hover fly.
Graham, an IPM specialist who plans a career in science education and outreach, recalled that she "began photographing insects for a class assignment at UC San Diego in 2010, and have not been able to stop."
Let's hope she never does!
The image of a blue dasher, captured by Rachel Graham of UC Davis, appears in the Entomological Society of America's 2014 World of Insects Calendar.
Some 3000 researchers, professors, graduate and undergraduate students, extension service personnel, administrators, research technicians, consultants, and others from around the globe will gather at the 61st annual lmeeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) "for four days of science, networking and fun," according to ESA spokesman Richard Levine. "This is the most important annual conference anywhere in the world for the science of entomology."
The theme: “Science Impacting a Connected World."
At the conclusion of the conference, integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will assume the duties of president of the 6500-member organization. He'll preside over the 62nd annual meeting, to be held in 2014 in Portland, Ore.
Zalom will become the second UC Davis entomologist to head the international organization, which is comprised of members in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry and government. The first president from UC Davis was Donald McLean, former professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who was elected ESA president in 1984.
Zalom has been heavily involved in research and leadership in integrated pest management (IPM) activities at the state, national and international levels. He directed the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years (1988-2001) and is currently experiment station co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) National IPM Committee.
Zalom focuses his research on California specialty crops, including tree crops (almonds, olives, prunes, peaches), small fruits (grapes, strawberries, caneberries), and fruiting vegetables (tomatoes), as well as international IPM programs. The IPM strategies and tactics Zalom has developed include monitoring procedures, thresholds, pest development and population models, biological controls and use of less toxic pesticides, which have become standard in practice and part of the UC IPM Guidelines for these crops. In his three decades with the UC Davis entomology department, Zalom has published almost 300 refereed papers and book chapters, and 340 technical and extension articles. The articles span a wide range of topics related to IPM, including introduction and management of newer, soft insecticides, development of economic thresholds and sampling methods, management of invasive species, biological control, insect population dynamics, pesticide runoff mitigation, and determination of host feeding and oviposition preferences of pests. The Zalom lab has responded to six important pest invasions in the last decade, with research projects on glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, and the spotted wing Drosophila. (See Frank Zalom's Video on Extending Orchard IPM Knowledge in California)
Zalom is a fellow of ESA, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the California Academy of Sciences and is the recipient of scores of other high honors.
Meanwhile, if you're an entomologist or a wanna-be entomologist, Austin is the place to be Nov. 10-13.
Truly, "Science Impacting a Connected World."/span>
This was a scene from ESA's 2008 annual meeting, held in Reno. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Signs of the times--at 2008 ESA meeting. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Mediterranean fruit fly, considered the world's worst agricultural pest, is one of at least five fruit flies established in California. It cannot be eradicated.
So says entomologist James Carey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who has been dogging medflies since his faculty appointment in 1980. (See what drove him.)
Carey and UC Davis-affiliated colleagues Nikos Papadopoulos and Richard Plant wrote the eye-opening research piece, "From Trickle to Flood: The Large Scale, Cryptic Invasion of California by Tropical Fruit Flies" in the current edition of the renowned Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Their work "clearly demonstrates that at least five and as many as nine species of tropical fruit flies, including the infamous Medfly, are permanently established in California and inexorably spreading, despite more than 30 years of intervention and nearly 300 state-sponsored eradication programs aimed at the flies," wrote Pat Bailey in a UC Davis News Service story released today.
The findings, Bailey pointed out, have "significant implications for how government agencies develop policies to successfully manage pests that pose a threat to California's $43.5 billion agricultural industry."
Carey, an international authority on fruit-fly invasion biology, told her that "Despite due diligence, quick responses, and massive expenditures to prevent entry and establishment of these insects, virtually all of the fruit-fly species targeted by eradication projects have been reappearing in the same locations — several of them annually — and gradually spreading in the state."
Carey, Papadopoulos and Plant detailed the problem in the opening paragraph of their meticulously researched paper: "Since 1954 when the first tropical tephritid fruitfly was detected in California, a total of 17 species in four genera and 11,386 individuals (adults/larvae) have been detected in the state at more than 3348 locations in 330 cities." That's three out of four California cities.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: "The study has dramatic implications for California agriculture and the state’s international trading partners, and speaks to the urgent need to alter current eradication policies aimed at invasive species."
Frank Zalom, UC Davis entomology professor and incoming president of the 6500-member Entomological Society of America: “This study deserves serious consideration, and I hope that it helps lead to new discussions on a long-term approach for dealing with fruit flies and similar exotic pests by the United States and international regulatory authorities."
Former UC Davis chancellor Ted Hullar (1987-1994), one of the first to believe in "the science" that Carey presented, said: “From our first conversation, Jim struck me as a serious-minded guy, with strong ideas and clear focus, pursuing his insights and beliefs no matter the struggle. Good science and progress comes from that, making new paths in tough terrain, believing in the power of journey, as well as goal.”
The Medfly prefers such thin-skinned hosts as peach, nectarine, apricot, avocado, grapefruit, orange, and cherry. The female may lay one to 10 eggs per fruit or as many as 22 eggs per day. She may lay up to 800 eggs during her lifetime, but usually about 300.
We remember when the Medfly wreaked economic havoc in the Solano County city of Dixon in September 2007. We were there.
At the time, Carey told us that "this may be just one of many isolated pockets of medfly infestations in California. This is really serious because the invasion process is so insidious."
The Medfly has been multiplying and spreading undetected--like cancer--for years, he said. "It may be a symptom of a much larger problem. But any way you look at it, this is the first really big outbreak in the Central Valley."
CDFA set up a command center at the Dixon May Fair and imposed a 114-mile radius quarantine of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Dixon was deep in the throes of tomato and walnut harvesting. The owner of a 65-acre organic produce farm that ships to 800 clients worried that he might lose $10,000 a week in potential sales.
Among the actions that the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) took at the onset:
- Stripped all fruit from trees within a 100-meter radius of all Medfly finds
- Ground-sprayed the organic compound Naturalyte (the active ingredient is Spinosad, a naturally occurring product of a soil bacteria) within a 200-meter radius of all Medfly finds
- Set 1,700 fruit fly traps within an 81-square mile grid in all of Dixon and the surrounding area from near the Yolo County border to Midway Road
- Began aerially releasing 1.5 million sterile male medflies (dyed pink for easy detection) over a 12-square mile area on Sept. 14, with weekly releases of 3 million medflies scheduled for at least nine months
- Set up a yearlong command center, with four portable buildings and a task force of 25, on the Dixon May Fair grounds
Fast forward to today. Now that the Medfly has been declared a "permanent resident," what's next?
Carey agrees that “CDFA needs to continue to respond to outbreaks as they occur, but he advocates long-term planning based on “the science” that the insects are established. This includes heightened monitoring levels for the agriculturally rich Central Valley, an economic impact study, risk management/crop insurance, cropping strategies, fly fee zones/post harvest treatments, emergency/crisis planning, genetic analysis and a National Fruit Fly Program.
“Inasmuch as the Mediterranean, Mexican, Oriental, melon, guava and peach fruit flies have all been detected in the Central Valley, monitoring this incredibly important agricultural region should be increased by 5 to 10-fold in order to intervene and suppress populations and thus slow the spread,” Carey says.
“These pests cannot be wished away or legislated out of existence. Policymakers need to come to grips with this sobering reality of multiple species permanently established in our state in order to come up with a long-term, science-based policy for protecting agriculture in our state.”
(See James Carey's website for links to his work on fruit fly invasion.)
Mediterranean Fruit Fly. (Photo by Jack Kelly Clark)
The UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) has decided to provide travel funds to entomology undergraduates who want to present their research at entomological associations.
So EGSA has established the Jude Plummer Travel Grant, so named because Plummer, a pest control manager in Florida, donated $50 “to be used for such a cause,” said EGSA president Jenny Carlson, a Ph.D. candidate in the Vector Genetics Lab.
This week EGSA announced the first recipient of the Jude Plummer Travel Grant: Daren Harris, who received his bachelor of science degree in entomology from UC Davis in December.
Harris will receive a travel grant of $300 to present his poster on the spotted wing drosophila at the 2013 meeting of the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America, set April 6-11 at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nev.
Harris' poster is titled “Seasonal Trapping of Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in a Multi-Crop Setting.” He works as a lab assistant in the Frank Zalom lab, studying with professor Zalom and Ph.D candidate Kelly Hamby.
“We will be providing an opportunity for UC Davis undergraduates to apply twice a year for a total of $300, depending on funds,” Carlson said. “We will have one in the winter and one in the fall.” Those who want to support the project can donate to the EGSA fund or buy entomology t-shirts.
Harris, who minored in fungal biology and ecology, plans to pursue a master’s degree in forest entomology. “I would like to study insect-fungus interactions with a focus on inoculation of forest pests with entomophagous fungi,” he said. “Many of these pests are gregarious so capture, inoculation and release of a few individuals may disseminate the pathogen to a large population.”
“My ultimate goal is to work with the USDA forest service. I would love nothing more than to make my living tromping around in beautiful north American forests."
Harris said he initially wanted to be a taxidermist. “As a child I had bookshelves filled with biological oddities and ‘specimens,’ including dead animals in jars of formaldehyde. My collection included everything from pet rodents to road kill. A high school biology teacher turned me on to entomology and I was hooked. The capture and curation of insects satisfied that childhood collection impulse, with the added bonus of frolicking through fields with a net.”
This tiny spotted wing drosophila is what Daren Harris is studying. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)