An Incredible Salute to Entomologist Lynn Kimsey

When a noted entomologist retires, what do you do?

Give them a 21-insect net salute.

That's what occurred at a recent retirement celebration honoring the legacy of UC Davis distinguished professor emerita Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology for 34 years. 

Kimsey, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology) in 1989, became the director of the Bohart Museum in 1990.

Noted entomologist Richard "Doc" Bohart (1913-2007) founded the insect museum in 1946. UC Davis Chancellor James Meyer (1922-2002) dedicated the facility in 1986 as "the Bohart Museum of Entomology" at a ceremony in Briggs Hall.  A highlight: Faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and others saluted him with a 21-insect net salute. They lined up, formed an archway with their nets, and Professor Bohart walked under the archway.

Kimsey, who was Bohart's last graduate student, recalled that event "as one of the funniest memories" of her career when she delivered a speech last November at the Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES) event honoring recipients of its excellence awards. Kimsey received the Exceptional Faculty Award.

Kimsey retired on Feb. 1, 2024 (but she's still doing research and continues to be the executive director of the Bohart Museum Society and the writer-editor-publisher of the quarterly Bohart newsletter.)

Then came the retirement celebration on April 6. Her colleagues, collaborators, faculty, staff and students gathered in a Mathematics Building classroom on Crocker Lane for speeches, and then headed over to the nearby Bohart Museum for the 21-insect net salute, a buffet and more tributes.

As Kimsey walked beneath the archway of the 21-insect net salute leading into the Bohart Museum, a chorus of cheers and applause greeted her.

She always remember that.

Just as she remembers the first insect net she received at age 5. 

“I've always been interested in insects," Kimsey said.  "I got my first insect net at age 5.” A portrait of her holding that net graces the Bohart Museum.

Under Kimsey's direction, the Bohart Museum that "Doc" Bohart founded 78 years ago expanded from 400 specimens to some eight million insect specimens today. It is the seventh largest insect collection in North America.

A recognized authority on biodiversity, systematics and biogeography of parasitic wasps, urban entomology, civil forensic entomology, and arthropod-related industrial hygiene, Kimsey holds two entomology degrees from UC Davis:  a bachelor's degree (1976) and a doctorate (1979). "I got to pursue my bug interests," she said. "I know it was kind of weird, but even as a little kid it was fun." 

It still is, Kimsey told the crowd at her retirement celebration.

The new Bohart Museum director is arachnologist and Professor Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in the Department of Entomology and Nematology and associate dean, College of Environmental Sciences (CA&ES).