Posts Tagged: Fran Keller
In her professional life, she's an entomologist, researcher, teacher, mentor, artist, photographer, and author.
In her private life, she's a wife and mother.
Her specialty: darkling beetles. You'll often find her at her "home away from home," the Bohart Museum of Entomology where she studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, Bohart Museum director and UC Davis professor of entomology.
Fran Keller is the designer and impetus behind the many Bohart Museum of Entomology posters and t-shirts. Posters include Butterflies of Central California, Dragonflies of California, California State Insect (California Dogface Butterfly) and Pacific Invasive Ants. T-shirts spotlight dragonflies, butterflies and walking sticks. (Access them at the Bohart's online gift shop.)
Fran Keller also found time to author a children's book on the California dogface butterfly, with sales benefitting the Bohart Museum.
If you belong to the Entomological Society of America (ESA) or another entomological organization, you've probably seen her leading symposiums, presenting talks, and conferring with other scientists.
There's not much that she CAN'T do.
So, on Wednesday, Fran Keller will probably convince her audience that darkling beetles are more exciting than any other insect. After all, her enthusiasm is well known and led to her UC Davis honor as an outstanding teacher.
Keller's exit seminar, "Taxonomy of Stenomorpha Solier, 1836 (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae: Asidini," will be from 12:05 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, May 29 in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, located on the corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives. Plans call for the seminar to be videotaped for later public viewing on UCTV.
“My research focuses on a very large genus which historically had 88 species and no modern species level work for several taxa for nearly 175 years,” Keller said. “Part of my research focuses on a group of flightless species restricted to the Sierra Transvolcanica or southern Transverse range in Mexico. Using biogeography, morphological analyses and the examination of over 10,500 specimens, I recognize 51 valid species of Stenomorpha Solier, 1836, with seven newly recognized subgenera, while 37 formerly recognized species are synonymized or newly combined."
“Certain Stenomorpha species occur in California vernal pools but are not listed as vernal pool species,” Keller said. She also will discuss the importance of taxonomy in conservation.
If time allows, Keller will discuss her other projects, working in the Bahamas and mentoring students, as well as her recent research on morphology and developmental patterns of gene expression.
Keller received her associate science degree in biology and chemistry, with highest honors, from Sacramento City College in 2001 and then transferred to UC Davis where she received her bachelor’s degree in evolution and ecology (2004), and her master’s degree in entomology (2007).
She served as a teaching assistant for a number of courses at UC Davis and has also presented guest lectures, including “Insect Sex and Mating Systems” and “Insects and the Environment—Ecological Physiology.”
Among her many awards at UC Davis:
- Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award, May 2008
- Division of Biological Sciences (DBS) Commencement Speaker, June 2004
- DBS Departmental Citation for Outstanding Achievement in Academics and Research in Evolution and Ecology, Spring 2004
- Outstanding Senior, 2004
- Undergraduate Research Conference, Oral Presentation, April 2004
- President’s Undergraduate Fellowship, Spring 2003
Her students applaud her teaching skills, her enthusiasm, and her care and concern. Said one student: "It's reassuring to know that out of a maze of 30,000 students and faculty at Davis that there are people like Fran who really care."
Fran Keller photographing insects in the Mojave Desert. (Photo by Mark deVries)
Fran Keller is a big fan of all things insects. She designed the monarch t-shirt. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Now there's an opportunity for classrooms all across the nation--and butterfly fans--to learn about it in "The Story of the Dogface Butterfly," written by UC Davis doctoral candidate Fran Keller and illustrated (watercolor and ink) by Laine Bauer, a 2012 graduate of UC Davis.
Net proceeds from the sale of the 35-page book will benefit the education, outreach and research programs of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis.
The book tells the untold story of the California dogface butterfly, Keller said, and how schoolchildren became involved in convincing the State Legislature to select the colorful butterfly as the state insect.
Bauer’s illustrations depict the life cycle of this butterfly. Naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a Bohart volunteer, contributed photos. As part of their research, the trio visited a Placer County habitat of the butterfly last year.
As for the book, “There are also ecology, life cycle, taxonomy and conservation issues presented that are relevant to grades K-6 that can be used in classroom curriculum,” Keller said. In addition, the book includes information on the butterfly’s host plant, false indigo (Amorpha californica).
“A glossary in the back highlights key terms,” Keller said. “And there is a set of photographs of the California dogface and another yellow butterfly to help you determine if you have ever really seen the California state insect.”
Some people confuse it with it the alfalfa butterfly.
You can meet the writer and illustrator at the Bohart Museum's open house on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. The museum is located at 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
The book can also be ordered online from the Bohart website.
The museum's gift shop also has t-shirts and posters depicting the state insect.
Illustrator Laine Bauer (left) and author Fran Keller.
Cover of "The Story of the Dogface Butterfly"
If you or someone in a household near you can draw a bug, then you need to head over to the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 15.
The Bohart Museum is hosting an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane. It's free and open to the public.
The theme: "Insects in Art."
The person (all ages invited) who submits the most creative bug drawing between 1 and 3:30 p.m. will win a t-shirt at around 4 p.m.
Here's what you do: draw a bug that will fit into a button about 2-1/4 wide. The Bohart Museum folks will insert it into their button-maker machine. If your bug art is selected as the most creative, you take the button home--and your prize, an insect-related t-shirt.
The open house will feature the illustrations of Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart and professor of entomology at UC Davis; the late Mary Foley Benson of Davis; and Ivana Li, an undergraduate entomology student and president of the UC Davis Entomology Club.
Visitors also will be able to see the original plates for the children’s book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” written by Fran Keller, doctoral candidate in entomology, and Laine Bauer, who received her degree in art in June from UC Davis. Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a Bohart volunteer, contributed photos.
Expanding on the open house theme, Heydon said that “Insects and Art” began as early as the caveman days. Cave drawings found in Spain depict honey gatherers from more than 10,000 years ago.
“Insects in art are found in scientific illustrations and are represented on fabric, paintings, toys, jewelry and other media,” Heydon said.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
In addition to the insect specimens, the Bohart houses a “live petting zoo” of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas; and a gift shop filled with t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, posters, insect nets, and insect-themed candy.
Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year so that families and others who cannot attend on the weekdays can do so on the weekends. The Bohart’s regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
The remaining weekend open houses:
Sunday, Jan. 13, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Extreme Insects"
Saturday, Feb. 2, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Biodiversity Museum Day"
Sunday, March 24, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Aquatic Insects"
Saturday, April 20: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Theme: UC Davis Picnic Day
Saturday, May 11, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "Moth-er's Day"
Sunday, June 9, 1 to 4 p.m.
Theme: "How to Find Insects"
UC Davis undergraduate student Ivana Li with a walking stick. She's an entomologist, an artist, and president of the UC Davis Entomology Club. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Fran Keller, doctoral candidate in entomology, helps out in the Bohart Museum's gift shop. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's a joy to watch these firecracker-red dragonflies (Libellula saturata) make their presence known. They dart over our fish pond, snatch an insect, and then perch on a tomato-plant stake to eat it.
Last year another generation did the same thing. They darted over our fish pond, snatched an insect, and then staked their claim in the vegetable garden. Over a tomato plant.
Most of the time the flame skimmers seem unaware of my presence. Guess they consider me neither prey nor predator.
If you love dragonflies, several years ago the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, created an educational poster, "Dragonflies of California," the work of doctoral candidate Fran Keller and naturalist/photographer Greg Kareofelas of Davis. It focuses on 18 dragonflies commonly found in the Golden State. The largest insect depicted in the poster is the Giant Darner (Anax walshinghami), but the most colorful just has to be...drum roll...the flame skimmer. But I'm biased.
Keller came up with these facts about dragonflies:
Ten fast facts about dragonflies, as provided by the Bohart Museum:
- Dragonflies date back before the dinosaur age.
- The largest known prehistoric species of dragonfly, living 300 million years ago, was the Meganeura monyi. Its wingspan measured more than two feet long.
- The largest species today is a South American dragonfly with a wingspan of 7.5 inches. The smallest modern species is an east Asian dragonfly, the libellulid dragonfly, Nannophya pygmaea, with a wingspan of about 3/4 of an inch.
- California is home to approximately 108 species. More than 5000 species are found worldwide.
- Dragonflies help control pests such as mosquitoes, midges and flies, but will also dine on honey bees and butterflies.
- The adults feed by hawking their prey. They dart off a perch to catch prey and often return to the perch to eat.
- Most dragonflies live around lakes, ponds, streams, and marshes; their larvae, known as “nymphs,” are aquatic. Some dragonfly larvae live in bromeliad flowers.
- Dragonflies usually do not bite or sting humans, but if grasped by the abdomen, they may bite to escape.
- The dragonfly is thought to have better eyesight than any other insect. Its compound eyes take up much of the insect’s head. Each compound eye has up to 30,000 facets or sensor modules, arranged to provide nearly a 360-degree field of vision. That's why it's difficult to sneak up on them.
- Dragonflies are a common motif in Native American art, displayed on Zuni pottery, Hopi rock art and on Pueblo necklaces. In Japan, they are considered symbols of courage, strength and happiness.
The Bohart Museum, home of more than seven million insects, is open year around, but is closed to the public on Friday. It's directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology att UC Davis.
But if you want to see dragonflies in The Great Outdoors, look for them near a body of water, whether it be a river, creek or...a fish pond in the back yard...
Flame skimmer perched on a tomato-plant stake. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of flame skimmer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
So, they’ve designed a humorous t-shirt inscribed with “Know Your Sticks,” featuring drawings of four sticks: a stick person, a real stick or twig, a Vietnamese walking stick and an Australian spiny stick (family Phasmatidae).
“One of the most popular insects in the Bohart Museum’s live ‘petting zoo’ is the walking stick,” said Fran Keller, who originated the idea of a stick t-shirt, in between studying for her doctoral degree in entomology. “So we thought we’d clarify the sticks.”
Keller designed the shirt, and undergraduate student Ivana Li, president of the UC Davis Entomology Club, drew the illustrations.
The stick person, named Talea persona (Latin for "stick person"), is the kind you might see on a rear windshield, Keller said. The real stick (Twigus stickus) is one you might see in the woods. And the Vietnamese (Medauroidea extradentata) and Australian sticks (Extatosoma tiaratum)? You can see them—and hold them--in the Bohart Museum.
The t-shirts, available in all sizes and many colors, range from $15 (for kids) to $18 (adults) to $20 (adults’ v-neck). They are available online or in the gift shop at the museum, Room 1124 of Academic Surge, located near the corner of La Rue Road and Crocker Lane (formerly California Avenue). Proceeds benefit the museum's educational programs.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses a global collection of more than seven million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
The Bohart’s regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
The Bohart Museum's “petting zoo” includes such permanent residents as Madagascar hissing cockroaches and a rose-haired tarantula, in addition to the walking sticks.
Keller suggests that for a novelty photo, stick a walking stick on your "Know Your Sticks" t-shirt, and have a friend photograph the “sticktoitiveness.”
And that’s not something to shake a stick at.
Ivana Li (left) and Fran Keller wearing their "Know Your Sticks" t-shirts. Note the real walking stick insects. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Check out the stick on the stick, second from left. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)