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Posts Tagged: Lynn Kimsey

About Those Walking Sticks...

Matan Shelomi (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Why would anyone want to study walking sticks (stick insects)?

Well, why wouldn't anyone NOT want to? That's the question we ought to ask.

Enter doctoral candidate Matan Shelomi of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He will present his exit seminar on "Digestive Physiology of the Phasmatodea" on Wednesday, March 5 from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus. His seminar is scheduled to be video-taped for later posting on UCTV.

For a preview of his work, watch Shelomi's phdcomics.com video; he cleverly explains his complicated research in two minutes. It's a classic Matan Shelomi.

Shelomi, who studies with  major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and UC Davis professor of entomology, will receive his doctorate this spring and will then seek a postdoctoral position.

What will he be covering in his seminar?

 "All life stages of all species of Phasmatodea (stick and leaf insects) eat nothing but leaves, yet they not only survive, but also reach record body sizes and plague-like population densities," Shelomi says. "Leaves are not an easy diet, as the nutrients are locked behind recalcitrant plant cell walls made of polysaccharides like cellulose, lignin, and pectin, and often defended with toxic secondary chemicals. Phasmid dependence on leaves suggests they have evolved a way to metabolize these compounds, yet what little data available on phasmid digestion is contradictory."
 
:This presentation covers five years of research at institutions spanning three countries, and confirms that phasmids do more than just lyse plant cells: they have the enzymes to break cellulose polymers down to sugar, as well as pectinases, all of which they produce themselves without microbial aid. The phasmid alimentary canal itself is compartmentalized into different sections that correlate with chemical digestion and xenobiotic metabolism. These adaptations allow an animal with a limited body space to digest and specialize on an otherwise limiting diet, with implications for herbivore nutrient economy as well as the search for enzymes for biofuel production."

Shelomi received his bachelor's degree in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University in 2009, and immediately after, enrolled in graduate school at UC Davis.

His work in Davis is funded by the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship program. Twice he has won the National Science Foundation's East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes' Fellowship: once to work in the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan, and once to work in Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan.

Shelomi served as a teaching assistant for Bob Kimsey's forensic entomology class. In addition, he co-taught a freshman seminar with Lynn Kimsey on "Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design." He has guest-lectured for Entomology  10 "Natural History of Insects"; Entomology 100 "Introduction to Entomology"; and Entomology 102 "Insect Physiology."

He has presented at numerous meetings of the Entomological Society of America  (ESA) and the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (PBESA) and organized or co-organized four symposia at those meetings.  He participates in the ESA's Linnaean Games and Student Debate teams. For his work with ESA and outside it, he won PBESA's John Henry Comstock Award in 2013.

There's more, much more. Shelomi presented a workshop at the 2012 International Conference on Science in Society, and received first place for his talk this past summer at the International Congress of Orthopterology in Kunming, China.  He has published his research in number of peer-reviewed journals.

The doctoral candidate's work has been spotlighted in the Sacramento Bee, California Aggie, DavisPatch,  plus blogs and vlogs like LiveScience, PHD TV, and Breaking Bio.  In addition, Shelomi answers entomology and biology questions on Quora.com, where he has been a top writer for two consecutive years. Huffington Post and Slate printed some of his Quora answers. You might remember that he won a "Shorty" (social media) award for his post "If you injure a bug, should you kill it or let it live?"

Lynn Kimsey says she doesn't know when he finds time to sleep.

Frankly, we don't, either.

Some Related Links:

This is the insect that Matan Shelomi studies. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This is the insect that Matan Shelomi studies. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This is the insect that Matan Shelomi studies. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Posted on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 8:24 PM

Bring on the Bed Bugs at the Bohart

Danielle Wishon
They're the bugs you love to hate.

Bed bugs, lice, ticks, mites, fleas and mosquitoes. 

If you want to see and/or learn more about them, attend the Bohart Museum of Entomology's "Snuggle Bugs" open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 12 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.

It's free and open to the public, and families especially are encouraged to attend, says Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.

A highlight will be a display of bed bugs reared by Danielle Wishon, a 2013 UC Davis entomology graduate and an affiliate of the Bohart Museum. Wishon. She plans to feed them (her blood) around 2 p.m.

Wishon began rearing her first research colony of bed bugs in October 2012. She's since added a second colony.  She's deliberately keeping the colonies small. Total count: around 100.

Wishon, a lab assistant at the California Department of Food and Agriculture since late last summer,  said she became interested in bed bugs while studying with UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey. Also spurring her interest: the questions asked at the Bohart. "Visitors were bringing in various insects and asking if they were bed bugs," she said. Among the insects: carpet beetles, dog ticks, swallow bugs and bat bugs.

Wishon aims to dispel the myths about bed bugs. There's a lot of misinformation on the Internet, she says. Unlike many insects, "they don't spread diseases."

Wishon maintains her colonies in Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Any escapees? No. She's especially observant with the first instars, which are about one millimeter long. 

Wishon is a past president of the UC Davis Entomology Club and recipient of the department’s 2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award.

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis and housing nearly eight million specimens, is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.

Special attractions at the Bohart include a live "petting zoo," with critters such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, millipedes, tarantulas and praying mantids. Visitors can also shop at the year-around gift shop (or online) for t-shirts, jewelry, insect nets, posters and books, including the newly published children’s book, “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. The 35-page book also includes photos by naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart.

Sunday' open house is just one of the many scheduled weekend open houses held throughout the academic year. 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. More information, including information on group tours, is available from Tabatha Yang at tabyang@ucdavis.edu.

Bed bug. (Photo by Piotr Naskrecki,  courtesty of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Bed bug. (Photo by Piotr Naskrecki, courtesty of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Bed bug. (Photo by Piotr Naskrecki, courtesty of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 9:22 PM

Supporting the Bohart Museum

If you're looking for a cause to support, consider the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis.

The museum crew, led by director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and dedicated.

They have gained a state, national and international reputation as a key source of information. The museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens, collected from all over the world.  In addition to the insect specimens, they maintain a "live" petting zoo that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. A year-around gift shop is stocked with t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, books, posters, insect nets, butterfly habitats, and insect-themed candy.

"Every year we have new insect adventures and those head-slapping moments when you think 'insects do that, really?'" Kimsey wrote in a recent letter, adding that  "2013 has been a very active year, with our staff and students strengthening our efforts to provide services and educational programs to the public. We are very proud of our dedicated group of volunteers and staff who bring insect-based programs to schools and public functions throughout northern California."

As in the past, long-time supporters Marius and Joanne Wasbauer have given the Bohart Museum another challenge grant of $5000. "They hope that their gift will inspire others to give and they will match your gift, one-for-one, up to $5000," Kimsey wrote. "Funds from the campaign will be deposited in the museum endowment, which provides invaluable operating support to the museum, its collections, programs and staff."

Folks can donate online at http://www.bohartmuseum.com.

Folks can also sign up for a sponsorship of $2500 to be eligible to participate in the Bohart's BioLegay program and will be able to name one of the new species listed on the BioLegacy website, http://biolegacy.ucdavis.edu. This contribution could also be counted toward the Wasbauer challenge grant. 

The insect museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, near the LaRue Road intersection. It's open to the public Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. Special weekend hours are also offered, as are group tours. Contact Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, at  tabyang@ucdavis.edu for more information.

Noted entomologist Jerry Powell, director emeritus of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley, volunteers at the Bohart Museum.  (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Noted entomologist Jerry Powell, director emeritus of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley, volunteers at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Noted entomologist Jerry Powell, director emeritus of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley, volunteers at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist Jerry Powell selects a specimen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Jerry Powell selects a specimen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomologist Jerry Powell selects a specimen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Ethan Wells, 7, of the Woodland Montessori School, delights in an Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ethan Wells, 7, of the Woodland Montessori School, delights in an Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Ethan Wells, 7, of the Woodland Montessori School, delights in an Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Hands reach out to touch the Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hands reach out to touch the Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Hands reach out to touch the Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 10:38 PM

'The December Event' at the Bohart Museum of Entomology

Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
They're calling it "The December Event."

Because that's what it is.

It's an event held in December, specifically Saturday, Dec. 7 from noon to 3 p.m. when the Bohart Museum of Entomology extends its weekday hours so folks can see the global insect collection, hold live critters from the "petting zoo," ask questions, and browse the gift shop.

Wouldn't it be interesting if "The December Event" drew a long line of bug lovers comparable to the swell of Black Friday shoppers? Can't you just see it? Families eagerly waiting in line for the the noon opening...the big dash when the doors swing open...smiles everywhere...

Science never looked so good...or so popular!

The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million specimens, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. The building is near the intersection of LaRue Road and Crocker Lane.

Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was the last graduate student of noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart, for whom the museum is named.

So, Dec. 7 is a good time to stop in, check out the insect specimens, and maybe hold a Madagascar hissing cockroach, a walking stick, a rose-haired tarantula or a praying mantis. Bring your camera. The photo could wind up on a unique holiday card.

Bug lovers can also visit the year-around gift shop, which includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, books, insect nets, butterfly habitats, and insect-themed candy. (Items can also be ordered online. Proceeds benefit the Bohart Museum.)

Wait, there's more! You can have your name or the name of a loved one "permanently attached" to an insect through the Bohart Museum's   BioLegacy program.

BioLegacy supports species discovery and naming, research and teaching activities of the museum through sponsorships, said Kimsey. "At a time when support for taxonomic and field research is shrinking, researchers find it increasingly difficult to discover, classify and name undescribed species. Yet there are thousands yet to be discovered. Taxonomy is the basis of all biology and without species discovery and naming much of the world’s biodiversity will remain unknown and therefore unprotectable."

As noted on the BioLegacy website, the program

  • Provides donors the opportunity to sponsor and give a scientific name to a newly discovered insect species;
  • Provides researchers responsible for identifying the new species with names provided by donors;
  • Ensures that names provide by donors are used in a scientifically sound and scientifically correct manner in accordance with International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature rules;
  • Provides donors with documentary proof of their name for the new species in question;
  • Ensures that donated funds go to the support of taxonomical research in the Bohart Museum of Entomology; and
  • Publishes donor-named species and information about the research on its website.

Bottom line: the species naming is a "unique, lasting form of dedication." A minimum sponsorship of $2500 is requested.

A Bohart Museum volunteer at work. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Bohart Museum volunteer at work. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Bohart Museum volunteer at work. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Madgascar hissing cockroaches are a popular attraction at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Madgascar hissing cockroaches are a popular attraction at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Madgascar hissing cockroaches are a popular attraction at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 10:12 PM

The Beetles and the Sticks

Rhinoceros beetles. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
“Ooh, a walking stick! Look! It’s eating a leaf.”

“Ooh, look at the dung beetles.”

Those were some of the comments overheard at the Bohart Museum of Entomology’s recent open house, themed “Beauty and the Beetles.”

The museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Drive, UC Davis campus, is home to nearly eight million insect specimens. And many of them are beetles (specimens) and some are walking sticks (live).

Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum’s education and outreach coordinator, said that beetles are “incredible diverse from the dung beetles to the shiny wood-boring beetles to the mighty Rhinoceros beetles. They are also spectacularly beautiful.”

Activities including making jeweled beetles, crafting dung beetles and other figures from clay, checking out assorted insect specimens, and holding live Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, rose-haired tarantulas, and praying mantids.

Here's what visitors learned about dung beetles from the text accompanying the displays:

Dung beetles (family Scarabaeidae, subfamily Scarabaeinae) are found worldwide. They

  • Feed on dung, usually mammal dung, but some species can also feed on decomposing plant material or carrion
  • Are found in many habitats, including desert, forest and, farmland
  • Have a sensitive sense of smell and use it to find dung
  • Have an expanded clypeus (area on front of face, above labrum)
  • Aid in nutrient recycling and soil structure; beetles removing dung from livestock areas remove habitats for potential pests such as flies.

Fun fact: Ancient Egyptians associated dung beetles with the god of the rising sun, who would roll the sun away at night

The next event at the Bohart Museum is...drum roll..."The December Event." It's set from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. “Come look at our collection, hold live insects and browse our gift shop,” said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis.

Said Yang:  “We will have some Oh, My! drawers pulled (called “Oh, my” because that’s what visitors say when they first see them), and live animals to hold."   

Attendees can test out Lizard Island, a new ecological videogamebeing developed by Budding Biologist (http://www.buddingbiologist.com/about.html), an educational publishing company owned by Kristine Callis-Duehl, a post-doctoral associate housed in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. This game is loosely based on ecological research being conducted by Louie Yang, assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Walter Hsiao, the video game developer, will be on hand to answer questions about game design. 

Hsaio earlier designed a fly fishing simulation game that included input from Louie Yang and Sharon Lawler, professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: http://www.flysim.com/flysim/flysim_features.html

The Bohart Museum, housing nearly eight million specimens, is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.

The year-around gift shop (also online) offers t-shirts, jewelry, insect nets, posters and books, including the newly published children’s book, “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. Naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart, also provided some of the photos for the 35-page book. It's geared toward kindergarteners through sixth graders, but is for all ages.

Bohart officials host weekend open houses throughout the academic year. Upcoming open houses are:

Sunday, Jan. 12
Theme: "Snuggle Bugs"
Hours: 1 to 4 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 8
Theme: "Biodiversity Museum Day"
Hours: Noon to 4 p.m.
This event will be held in conjunction with the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Herbarium, Botanical Conservatory, Anthropology Collection and Geology and will take place at each of those locations.  (All are free and open to the public.)

Sunday, March 2
Theme: "Garden Heroes!"
Hours: 1 to 4 p.m.

Saturday, April 12:
Theme: “UC Davis Picnic Day: 100 Years”
Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday, May 4
Theme: "Moth-er's Day"
Hours: 1 to 4 p.m.

Saturday, July 26
Theme: "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?"
Hours: 1 to 4 p.m.

The Bohart Museum’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. More information is available from Tabatha Yang at tabyang@ucdavis.edu or check out the website. Those who would like to join the Bohart Museum Society, a campus and community support organization dedicated to supporting the mission of the museum, can do so by accessing http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/html/about_society.html.

 

A jeweled beetle, part of the arts and crafts activity. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A jeweled beetle, part of the arts and crafts activity. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A jeweled beetle, part of the arts and crafts activity. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A dung beetle and dung, crafted at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A dung beetle and dung, crafted at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A dung beetle and dung, crafted at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Ally Estrada, 10, of Vacaville, works with clay. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ally Estrada, 10, of Vacaville, works with clay. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Ally Estrada, 10, of Vacaville, works with clay. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Mollie Bressler, 10, of Vacaville feeds a leaf to a walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mollie Bressler, 10, of Vacaville feeds a leaf to a walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Mollie Bressler, 10, of Vacaville feeds a leaf to a walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, December 2, 2013 at 11:25 PM

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