Bugs do rule, and they'll rule at the 59th annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), to take place Nov. 13-16 in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno.
At the event, the UC Davis Department of Entomology will be one of the most honored departments in its history.
Professor Frank Zalom, in line for the presidency of the 6000-member association, will be installed as vice president-elect and will begin his term Nov. 16. Professor James R. Carey and Diane Ullman, professor and associate dean for undergraduate academic programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will be inducted as ESA fellows, an honor limited to 10 persons per year.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology, will receive the Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology, and professor Walter Leal, the Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology.
Harry Kaya, emeritus professor of entomology and nematology, will be honored at a special seminar titled “Entomopathogenic Nematodes: Their Biology, Ecology, and Application. A Tribute to the Dynamic Career of Harry K. Kaya.” Ed Lewis, acting chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is among the coordinators.
Three other faculty members are moderating/organizing or co-conducting symposiums. They are James R. Carey, “Insect Demography: Emerging concepts and Applications”; Neal Williams, “Biodiversity, Global Change and Insect-Mediated Ecosystem Services,” and Walter Leal, “Insect Olfaction and Taste: Identifying, Clarifying and Speaking about the Key Issues.” Each will also deliver a lecture.
Leal and Parrella are among the most active UC Davis members of ESA. Leal is serving on the Presidential Committee on the International Congress of Entomology (ICE), to be held Aug. 19-25 in Daegu, South Korea. Parrella holds a seat on the ESA Governing Board, representing the Pacific Branch of the ESA.
Graduate students will also be quite involved at the ESA meeting. The UC Davis Linnaean Team will participate in the annual competition. The team includes Matan Shelomi, who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology; Meredith Cenzer, who studies with Louie Yang; Andrew Merwin, who studies with Michael Parrella; Mohammad-Amir Aghaee, who studies with Larry Godfrey; and Hanayo Arimoto, with studies with Ed Lewis. The team earlier won first place in the Pacific Branch competition.
Another highlight is a student debate: “Identify...Clarify...Speak Out! Land Grant Mission, Organic Agriculture & Host Plant Resistance Programs.” UC Davis entomology graduate students will team to argue the pro side: Matan Shelomi, Mohammad-Amir Aghaee; Andrew Merwin; Meredith Cenzer, and Kelly Hamby (she studies with major professor Frank Zalom).
There's also the fun side. A video created by UC Davis undergraduate student Heather Wilson, who works in the Frank Zalom lab, is entered in the open division category of the ESA YouTube Contest. Her entry, “I Wanna Be an Entomologist,” is a a parody of the hit song, “I Wanna Be a Billionaire.” Wilson filmed the video in the Zalom lab and the Bohart Museum of Entomology. On the serious side, she'll present her research on the Spotted Wing Drosophila: “Seasonal Movements of Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in a Multi-Crop Setting.” Watch Heather Wilson's video
In addition, scores of other UC Davis representatives--faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars--will present their work.
Yes, bugs do rule!
The Entomological Society of America (ESA) just announced that among the 2011 award recipients are two UC Davis faculty: Michael Parrella and Walter Leal.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology is the recipient of the ESA's Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology.
Chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the Department of Entomology, is the recipient of the ESA's Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology.
They'll receive the awards at the 59th Annual ESA Meeting, set Nov. 13-16 in Reno. Each award comes with a cash prize and a plaque.
Both Parrella and Leal have done so much for the wide world of entomology that their accomplishments could easily fill several books.
The fact that they were singled out from a 6000-member international organization for these coveted awards says a lot about them, their work, their commitments, their passions, and the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
The Nan-Yao Su Award goes to an ESA member who has demonstrated, through projects or accomplishments, "an ability to identify problems and develop creative, alternative solutions that significantly impact entomology."
The Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology, sponsored by Gowan Company, singles out an entomologist who has contributed greatly to the American horticulture industry.
Parrella, who also has a joint appointment in the Department of Plant Sciences and is a former associate dean with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has developed an internationally recognized program focused on advancing integrated pest management and biological control for the floriculture and nursery industry.
Parrella is a past president of the Pacific Branch of the ESA and represents the Branch on the ESA Governing Board. He has held numerous offices and has authored more than than 375 publications.
Leal is a pioneer in the field of insect communication and on the cutting edge of research. He examines how insects detect smells, communicate with their species, detect host and non-host plants, and detect prey.
Leal has designed and synthesized complex pheromones from many insects, including scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles and the citrus leafminer. He and his lab discovered the secret mode of the insect repellent DEET.
A past president of International Society of Chemical Ecology, Leal has published his work in more than 161 peer-reviewed journals in the general field of insect pheromones, insect chemical communication, and insect olfaction, many widely cited by his peers.
Hail to the chairs--the current chair and a past chair.
A touch of Brazil and a desire to exchange science and technology...
That's what will happen on the UC Davis campus Monday, May 23 when a distinguished Brazilian scientist meets with UC Davis officials and the Brazilian consulate of San Francisco.
Jorge Almeida Guimarães, president of the Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES), Ministry of Education, will be meeting all day with various groups to explain the details of a graduate student exchange program between Brazil and UC Davis.
Brazilian-born Walter Leal, professor of entomology and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology will host Guimarães. Leal, active in promoting student exchange programs, is currently involved with an undergraduate student program involving UC Davis, Pennsylvania State and two Brazilian universities.
A highlight on May 23 will be a public seminar from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m., in the Institute of Governmental Affairs (IGA) Reading Room (Room 360), Shields Library. Speaking on “CAPES and Higher Education in Brazil,” Guimarães will outline an agreement inked between Brazil and the United States when President Obama visited Brazil in March. The agreement, signed by Guimarães on behalf of Brazil and by U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon on behalf of the National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C., involves an exchange of students and scholars between the two countries.
The series of meetings will include Chancellor Linda Katehi, Vice Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter, Vice Provost Bill Lacy, and Jeffery Gibeling, dean of Graduate Studies.
Joining in: Ambassador Bernardo Pericás Neto, Consul Consulate General of Brazil-San Francisco, Deputy Consul General Evaldo Freire, and coordinator Clelia Piragibe of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Brazil.
“CAPES is responsible for promoting and evaluating the entire graduate system of education in Brazil,” said Leal, a chemical ecologist who works with insect pheromones. “It supports many programs to improve quality in higher education and to promote research in science and technology in the country.”
“CAPES has no equivalent in the United States, as it is in charge of funding graduate education through scholarship and evaluating the program,” Leal said.
It's good to see that the exchange program's objectives include deepening the cooperation between scholarly and scientific communities of the two countries. This means an exchange of students, exchange of scientists and scholars, joint research projects, university partnerships, and seminars, workshops and conferences.
Plus, a digitization of biological collections.
Researchers in the Walter Leal lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology, are engaging in some exciting research.
They just discovered a "generic insect repellent detector" in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster)--research published today (March 16) in PloS One (Public Library of Science).
What's exciting is that this research may lead to more effective and lower-cost products than DEET, the gold standard of insect repellents.
The five-member team found the sensory organs involved when fruit flies detect and avoid three key insect repellents: DEET, IR3535 and picaridin. They identified the olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) and characterized its receptor, DmOr42a.
The research team of Leal; primary author and chemical ecologist Zain Syed; chemical ecologist Julien Pelletier; and undergraduate students Eric Flounders and Rodrigo Chitolina, first found that the fruit fly avoids all three well-known repellents, DEET, IR3535 (a compound known as Avon Corporation’s “Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard”) and picaridin (derived from pepper) and then set out to find olfactory receptor neurons sensitive to those insect repellents. They scanned all olfactory sensilla in the antennae and the mouthpart structure, maxillary palps, using single unit electrophysiological recordings.
The receptor they found “fulfills the requirements for a simplified bioassay for early screening of test insect repellents,” they wrote in the scientific paper.
When you think that it takes about 10 years and $30 million to develop a new repellent--and only one test compound in 20,000 reaches the market--this could really speed up the process.
Zain Syed told us: "In this study, by using established behavioral assays to dissect the mechanism of repulsion in fruit flies, we demonstrated for the first time that Drosophila equally avoid other repellents--picaridin and IR3535. By challenging every type of olfactory sensilla on the antenna and maxillary palps, we identified neurons and then the odorant receptor that detect these repellents."
The UC Davis research, as Syed said, "adds a new dimension in research towards understanding the molecular, cellular and organismal response to repellents."
Chemical ecologist Coby Schal, the Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professor of Entomology at North Carolina State University, praised the research as “an excellent example of translational research that can lead to a streamlined and less expensive path of discovery of new repellents.”
In earlier research, Syed and Leal identified a DEET-sensitive olfactory receptor neuron in the Southern House mosquito. “Going from the neuron to the receptor, however, is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack as the mosquito genome has some 181 olfactory receptor genes,” Schal said.
The Leal lab knows DEET. Back in August 2008, Leal and Syed drew international attention when they announced they'd discovered DEET’s mode of action or how it works. Scientists long surmised that DEET masks the smell of the host, or jams or corrupts the insect’s senses, interfering with its ability to locate a host. The Leal-Syed research showed that mosquitoes actually smell DEET and avoid it because they dislike the smell.
DEET, developed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and patented by the U.S. Army in 1946, is the go-to insect repellent. Worldwide, more than 200 million use DEET to ward off vectorborne diseases.
Leal, a chemical ecologist and professor of entomology, recently organized and moderated a symposium with professor John Hildebrand of the University of Arizona on "The Diversity in Olfaction and Taste" at the 58th annual Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting.
Among the nine speakers at the San Diego conference: Bert Hoelldobler of Arizona State University who discussed "Communication and Social Organization Among Insects Via Chemical Cues"; Kristin Scott of UC Berkeley, "Taste Recognition in Drosophila (Flies)"; Julien Pelletier of UC Davis, "Conserved and Diverse Mosquito Odorant Receptors"; Hildebrand, "Olfactory Mechanisms Underlying Moth-Host Plant Interactions"; and Leal, who covered "Odorant Receptors from Moths, Flies and Mosquitoes." (Note the communication between a male and female silkworm moth in the accompanying photo by Samuel Woo of UC Davis.)
It's an exciting field--the field of olfaction and taste. And now the Leal lab has an opening for a postdoc trained in biochemistry/molecular biology to join a group of scholars (http://chemecol.ucdavis.edu/) investigating at the molecular level how insect perceive the world true small chemical molecules like pheromones, oviposition attractants, repellents, etc.
Leal, a fellow of the ESA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former president of the International Society for Chemical Ecology, is focusing his current research on the molecular basis of insect olfaction, with particular emphasis on odorant binding, release, and inactivation in the peripheral nervous system and chemical ecology.
Leal has published more than 150 papers in peer reviewed journals, 16 invited chapters and review articles, 28 Japanese patents and 2 US patents. Some of the recent publications:
Postdoc scholars who want to apply can email their CV and a letter of application to firstname.lastname@example.org.