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Posts Tagged: UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program

A Brush With Bees

If you plant a bottlebrush in your yard, you'll experience a brush with kindness.

This time of year there's not much food for honey bees to eat. Bottlebrush, in the genus Callistemon and family Myrtaceae, fits the bill. 

We captured this image Oct. 16 at the Häagen-Dazs Bee Haven, a bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, west of the central campus. The half-acre garden, planted in the fall of 2009, serves as a year-around food source for the bees at the nearby Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Faciity, as well as other  pollinators, raises public awareness of bees, and provides visitors with ideas of what to plant in their own gardens. Admission to the garden, open from dawn to dusk, is free. If you want a guided tour (a nominal fee is charged), contact Christine Casey at cacasey@ucdavis.edu.

The bee-utiful Miss Bee Haven, a six-foot long ceramic mosaic sculpture by Donna Billick of Davis, anchors the garden. The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, directed by Donna Billick and entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, has kindly provided a plethora of art, the work of their students in Entomology 1. Think decorated bee boxes at the entrance, a native bee mural on the tool shed, ceramic mosaic planters filled with flowers, and native bee condos for leafcutter bees and blue orchard bees.

The bottlebrush fits in well. Native to Australia, this plant resembles--you guessed it--a bottlebrush, the kind of tool you'd use to clean a baby bottle or an insulated bottle. Most flower heads are red, but they can also be yellow, orange, white or green, depending on the 34 species.

The bottlebrush is a long and late bloomer, to be sure. But a welcome one at that.

Honey bee on a bottlebrush at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by  Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee on a bottlebrush at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee on a bottlebrush at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This is Miss Bee Haven, art work by Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This is Miss Bee Haven, art work by Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This is Miss Bee Haven, art work by Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, November 18, 2013 at 10:39 PM

The Scholar and the Walnut Twig Beetle

Close-up of the walnut twig beetle, a ceramic mosaic work by Kristina Tatiossian. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Most people have never seen the walnut twig beetle, a tiny insect that spreads a fungal pathogen that kills walnut trees. 

No wonder. The insect, measuring about 1.5 millimeters long, is much smaller than a grain of rice. 

Now, however, they can see a teddy-bear-sized version, thanks to a University of California, Davis entomology major Kristina Tatiossian, a member of the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology.  

Through the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, Tatiossian, a junior, crafted a ceramic mosaic sculpture of the tiny walnut twig beetle for her research poster, “Flight Response of the Walnut Twig Beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis, to Aggregation Pheromones Produced by Low Densities of Males.”

The beetle jutting from the poster is so true to form that scientists studying the insect not only readily recognize it, but point out that it’s a female. That includes her mentor, chemical ecologist and forest entomologist Steve Seybold of the Davis-based Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, and an affiliate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

Seybold and Andrew Graves, a former UC Davis researcher with the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology, who now works for the USDA Forest Service, first detected the newly recognized beetle-fungus disease, known as Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD), in California in 2008. TCD had been detected earlier in Colorado and its impact had been noted even earlier in New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah.  TCD and its history are chronicled in a newly revised “Pest Alert” issued by the USDA Forest Service.

Steve Seybold, mentor
The beetle, emerging from a gallery of a black walnut tree, is accurate right down to the concentric ridges that occur on the skin (cuticle) that protects its head. Some observers claim the beetle is smiling and could be a cartoon character.

Tatiossian accomplished the research project as part of the  Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology, which aims to provide undergraduates with a closely mentored research experience in biology. Headed by professor Jay Rosenheim, and assistant professor Louie Yang of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, the program currently has 12 students; students apply when they are freshmen, sophomores or transfer students. Tatiossian joined the program in 2011 and is mentored by Steve Seybold. 

Tatiossian completed the ceramic mosaic project over a four-week period. She earlier worked on two UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program projects, including the “Tree of Life,” with the program’s founders, entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick. A former Los Angeles resident, Tatiossian will receive her bachelor’s degree in entomology this June and then plans to attend graduate school to study either biochemistry or virology.

Jay Rosenheim, director
Meanwhile, the poster is making the rounds. Tatiossian entered the poster in the Entomological Society of America’s student poster competition last year at its meeting in Knoxville, Tenn., where it drew lots of attention, not only for the research project but for the art.

Tatiossian will giving an oral presentation on her research at the Pacific Branch, ESA meeting, set for April 7-10 at South Lake Tahoe. Then she will display the poster again in the Undergraduate Research Conference at UC Davis on April 24 in Wellman Hall.  

By itself, the beetle, native to Arizona, California, New Mexico and Mexico, does little or no damage. But when coupled with the newly described fungus, Geosmithia morbida, it is killing thousands of walnut trees. 

The disease is creating havoc throughout much of the western United States, Seybold said, and is now heading east. Its primary host is the black walnut tree but it also attacks other walnut trees.

Louie Yang, director
On her poster, Tatiossian explained that the walnut twig beetle (WTB), in association with the fungus, causes the newly recognized disease, Thousand Cankers Disease. WTB vectors the fungal pathogen, which infects phloem tissue around the beetle galleries, she wrote. “Numerous localized infections have led to the common name of the disease.”

“Male WTB initiate new galleries and produce an aggregation pheromone, which can be used to study patterns of initial host colonization behavior of WTB. It has been previously shown by Graves and colleagues (2010) that as the number of males in a branch is increased from 20 to 200, the flight response of males and females is similarly increased,” she wrote. “We investigated flight responses to lower numbers of males in cut branch sections of northern California black walnut, Juglans hindsii.”


Her objective: “To determine the minimum number of males in an artificially infested branch of Juglans hindsii necessary to elicit a flight response from WTB.”  She found that as little as one to five males is enough to elicit the aggregation response at her field study sites at two locations in Davis.

The poster will be displayed on the third floor of Briggs Hall, just outside the Department of Entomology’s administration office.

On her poster, Tatiossian credits Seybold; Extension entomologist Mary Louise Flint,  associate director for Urban and Community IPM, UC Statewide Integrated Pest Program; entomology graduate student Stacy Hishinuma, and postdoctoral researcher Yigen Chen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

And the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program where the tiny walnut twig beetle sprang to life.

Kristina Tatiossian and the ceramic mosaic of a walnut twig beetle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Kristina Tatiossian and the ceramic mosaic of a walnut twig beetle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Kristina Tatiossian and the ceramic mosaic of a walnut twig beetle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The poster that Kristina Tatiossian created. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The poster that Kristina Tatiossian created. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The poster that Kristina Tatiossian created. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Donna Billick: Crossing Disciplines and Borders

It's a wonderful, well-deserved honor that pays tribute to her amazing talents.

Donna Billick, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and an artist known for crossing disciplines and borders from Davis to Central America to deliver and coax creative expressions, has been selected the staff recipient of the Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Community for 2012-2013. 

The award recognizes Billick for her “contributions in enhancing inclusiveness and diversity within the campus community," according to Rahim Reed, associate executive vice chancellor, Office of Campus Community Relations.

Billick, a self-described "rock artist," will be honored at a reception in Chancellor Linda Katehi's residence on Feb. 6. The honor includes a $500 monetary award.

 “Donna is an exceptional leader who has devoted her life to creating access to the arts and sciences to the broadest communities possible,” said entomology professor Diane Ullman, associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Billick’s art projects not only span the campus and into area communities throughout California, but delve into Mexico and Central and South America.

“She has a remarkable ability to coach novices and help them find confidence in their artistic expression,” said Ullman, who nominated her for the award with three UC Davis Arboretum officials: director Kathleen Socolofsky, assistant director Carmia Feldman, assistant director and senior museum scientist Emily Griswold. 

Indeed. We've seen Billick engage children, college students, teachers and grandparents, taking self-professed non-artists and showing them that they, too, can express themselves with art.

The  UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, launched in 2006,  is a multi-course program with outreach activities involving design faculty, science faculty, museum educators, professional artists and UC Davis students. “Participants see and feel art and science, hold it in their hands, hearts and memories—in ceramics, painting, photographs, music, and textiles,” said Ullman, who previously received the Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity and Community in the faculty category.

Billick's work--and the work of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program--can be seen on the UC Davis campus in the  Arboretum, Shields Oak Grove and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, among other sites. 

One of the program's most spectacular projects is Nature’s Gallery, a ceramic mosaic mural showcasing plants and insects found in the Arboretum’s Ruth Storer Garden. The U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington, D.C., displayed the mural in 2007; it now has a permanent home in the Storer Garden.

Billick created the six-foot-long honey bee sculpture for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, and the ceramic mosaic sign that fronts the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road.

Billick founded and directs the Billick Rock Art of Davis, a studio that has brought large-scale public art and community-built art to communities across the nation since 1977. She also launched the Todos Artes, a program providing destination workshops and community-built art in Baja, Mexico, since 2006. 

An alumna of UC Davis, Billick toyed with a scientific career before opting for a career that fuses art with science. She received her bachelor of science degree in genetics in 1973 and her master’s degree in fine arts in 1977, studying art with such masters as Bob Arneson, Roy De Forest, Wayne Thiebaud and Manuel Neri. 

If you want to know more about how these artists, listen to their TEDx talks  posted on YouTube:

Listen to Donna Billick

Listen to Diane Ullman

 

Donna Billick with her ceramic mosaic sculpture of a honey bee in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Donna Billick with her ceramic mosaic sculpture of a honey bee in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Donna Billick with her ceramic mosaic sculpture of a honey bee in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Unwrapped!

Professional ceramic mosaic artist Mark Rivera with entomologist/artist Diane Ullman. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
For more than a week, tarps protected the art from the elements.

The artists would work on the installation daily, then stop and cover the art, resuming only when weather permitted.  

The site: the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, designed as a year-around food resource for bees, to raise public awareness about the plight of bees, and to show visitors what they can plant in their own gardens.  Part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, it's located just a few yards east of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. 

For awhile, rain pelted the tarp-covered art. Then the fog rolled in. Not to be outdone, wind tugged at the protective covers, hinting at the beauty beneath.

Finally, the artists finished the installation.

This afternoon, entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and professor of entomology at UC Davis, unwrapped the  two pillars at the front entrance. She also removed the tarps covering the ceramic mosaic-tiled cement planters inside the haven. 

Ullman, associate dean in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, co-founded the Art/Science Fusion Program with noted artist Donna Billick of Davis, a self-described "rock artist." Together they direct the program and teach an Entomology 1 class that does just that--fuses art with science. 

Last quarter the students studied bees and then developed the art. For many, it was their first attempt at a major art project. They are not art majors. Their majors include managerial economics, genetics, biological sciences, environmental toxicology and chemistry, and wildlife management.

At the end of the quarter, they stood in front of their classmates and discussed what they learned about bees and the obstacles and rewards. (See photos.) They did a fantastic job!

Andrea Wagner, a graduate student in entomology, served as the teaching assistant for the course and also created some of the art. Lending a welcoming hand in the installation was Mark Rivera of Davis, a professional ceramic mosaic artist, whose work includes the carrot sculpture by the Davis Co-Op.

"We couldn't have done the installation without Mark," Ullman said.

Several years ago,  Ent 1 students painted the two towers of bee boxes at the entrance. One tower of seven boxes depicted bees inside the hive, and the other tower, bees outside the hive. Unfortunately, the paint began peeling. Subsequently, Ullman and Billick opted for a more permanent art: mosaic ceramic tiles to cover the 14 boxes. As before, one tower depicts activity inside the hive, and the second tower, activity outside the hive.

UC Davis students also created mosaic ceramic panels for two of the three cement planters inside the garden. (The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program had only enough money for two.)

Meanwhile, the garden has never looked better. The state-of-the-art fence that surrounds the garden is the work of Derek Tully, 17, of Davis, who last summer completed the fence as his Eagle Scout project

The garden, planted in the fall of 2009, is open to the public from dawn to dusk, year around, for self-guided tours. 

Beginning next March 1, Christine Casey (cacasey@ucdavis.edu) will begin offering guided tours for $4 per person.

Beneath these weather-protective tarps: bee-box pillars. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Beneath these weather-protective tarps: bee-box pillars. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Beneath these weather-protective tarps: bee-box pillars. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Entomologist/artist Diane Ullman uncovers a pillar. In the foreground, a bee sculpture created by colleague Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist/artist Diane Ullman uncovers a pillar. In the foreground, a bee sculpture created by colleague Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist/artist Diane Ullman uncovers a pillar. In the foreground, a bee sculpture created by colleague Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Today was a cold, blustery day but the pillars gleamed in the sunlight. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Today was a cold, blustery day but the pillars gleamed in the sunlight. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Today was a cold, blustery day but the pillars gleamed in the sunlight. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This work, showing the developmental stages of a worker honey bee, is by artist Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This work, showing the developmental stages of a worker honey bee, is by artist Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This work, showing the developmental stages of a worker honey bee, is by artist Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 10:04 PM

Prepare to Be Dazzled!

Cabinet of Curiosity: Musei Wormiani Historia (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Glow-in-the-dark organisms?

Art made of fungus?

Tales about insects?

That will all take place at “Organism,” an art show fusing art, science and technology, including insect art by young entomologists on the University of California, Davis campus

The date: Tuesday night, Dec. 11.
The time: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
The place: the Old Nelson Gallery in the UC Davis Art Building.

The event, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.

"Organism" also will include visual, sound, live performance, and a look at a Cabinet of Natural Curiosities (see example on Wikipedia).

“This is a two-part show,” said curator Anna Davidson, a doctoral candidate who teaches for the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, which was launched in 2006 by entomologist Diane Ullman and self-described “rock artist” Donna Billick.

Part One will spotlight artworks created by both artists and scientists on the UC Davis campus. Participating scientists will include Ciera Martinez, Anna Davidson, Brad Townsly, Dan Chitwood and Diane Ullman. Among the artists: Daniel Brickman, May Wilson, Evan Clayburg, Daniel Mendoza, Sarah Julig, Dylan Wright, Donna Billick and Emily Schleiner.

Part One also includes performance art by Allison Fall and a dance performance by Linda Bair Dance Company. 

Part Two of the show will feature 15 students from the Entomology 1 class, which is housed in the Art Science Fusion program. “These 15 students have been writing curious tales about insects and illustrating those stories through their art pieces,” Davidson said. “The concept behind their art pieces is based on Cabinets of Curiosities, a pre-Linnaeus collection of curiosities made popular among the affluent in 14th and 15th century Europe.”

“During this show you will experience glow in-the-dark organisms, art made of fungus, large-scale installation, live performance, and sound, art and tales about insects that are so curious they are almost unbelievable!” she said.

The 15 students include Christina Ball, Edna Chen, Alejandra Gonzalez, Whitney Krupp, Danielle Laub, Nina Liu, Huong Nhu Mai, Amy McElroy, Brenda Nguyen, Lawrence Nguyen, Meredith Scarborough, Alison Stewart, Kevin Tran and Hsin Hwei Tsou.

For more information, contact Anna Davidson at adavidson@ucdavis.edu. She is a Ph.D student in the Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Group, Department of Plant Sciences.

Entomology student Whitney Krupp at work on her display for the show,
Entomology student Whitney Krupp at work on her display for the show, "Organism." (Photo courtesy of Anna Davidson)

Entomology student Whitney Krupp at work on her display for the show, "Organism." (Photo courtesy of Anna Davidson)

Close-up shot of Whitney Krupp's art-to-be for the Organism show. (Photo courtesy of Anna Davidson)
Close-up shot of Whitney Krupp's art-to-be for the Organism show. (Photo courtesy of Anna Davidson)

Close-up shot of Whitney Krupp's art-to-be for the Organism show. (Photo courtesy of Anna Davidson)

Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 10:15 PM

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