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Posts Tagged: Louie Yang

Seeking Undergraduate Research Scholars

Don Hoang
Eager to experience a one-on-one training and mentorship that you'd normally find only in a small liberal arts college?

Want to develop skills that will make your application to graduate school, medical school or veterinary school really stand out from the crowd?

The UC Davis Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology is recruiting undergraduate students who are eager to experience one-on-one research training and mentorship.

This will be the third cohort of students.

The program, now officially approved by the Academic Senate, is coordinated by professor Jay Rosenheim and assistant professors Louie Yang and Joanna Chiu, all of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

The Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology provides the opportunity to learn research skills in all areas of biology, including:

  • behavior and ecology
  • biodiversity
  • agroecology
  • population biology
  • mathematical bology
  • human health
  • cell biology
  • biochemistry
  • molecular biology

Sarah Staley
Bascially, the program, which includes more than 40 mentoring faculty, aims to provide UC Davis undergraduates with a closely-mentored research experience in biology. The goal: "to provide academically strong and highly motivated undergraduates with a multi-year research experience geared toward preparing them for a career in biological research," says Rosenheim.

Applications are now being accepted from first and second-year students and first-year transfer students. The application deadline is April 10, 2013.  More information on the program and how to apply is on the program’s website.

Successful venture? Yes, indeed.  Two members of the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology recently received President's Undergraduate Fellowship Program (PUF) grants. 

They are Sarah Staley, mentored by medical entomologist Anthony “Anton” Cornel, associate entomologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and based at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Parlier; and Don Hoang, mentored by evolutionary geneticist Artyom Kopp, professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology.

Staley and Hoang were among 25 undergraduate students receiving grants from a pool of 62 applicants. Staley submitted her proposal titled “Prevalence of Leucocytozoa Infections in Potential Vector Populations of Black Flies in Alaska.” Hoang's proposal: "The Yeast/Drosophila Relationship: Is it Meant to Last?”

Read their story on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website.

No small feat. Great things are happening in the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology. Jay Rosenheim, Louie Yang and Joanna Chiu are making it happen.

Jay Rosenheim, professor of entomology at UC Davis, doing research in a meadow. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Jay Rosenheim, professor of entomology at UC Davis, doing research in a meadow. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Jay Rosenheim, professor of entomology at UC Davis, doing research in a meadow. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Everything Is Connected; Even the Bees

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."--John  Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

Ecologist Louie Yang of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, tags that quote at the end of each email.

So true.

On that note, did you catch the Feb. 14th National Public Radio piece on "Why California Almonds Need North Dakota Flowers (And a Few Million Bees)?"

"Here's the web of connections: a threat to California's booming almond business; hard times for honey bees in North Dakota; and high corn prices," Dan Charles said.

The gist of it:
Every year, bees from 1.6 million of the nation's hives are trucked into California to pollinate the 750,000 acres of almonds.  Since the almond pollination season is brief--a few weeks in mid-February--the bees need someplace to thrive after the bloom ends. Many  beekeepers head to North Dakota's federally funded government program, the Conservation Reserve Program, where flowers bloom all summer long. Basically, Uncle Sam leases land from the farmers to help the bees thrive.

Now, however, North Dakota farmers are finding it more profitable to grow corn than put their land in the Conservation Reserve Program.

"The amount of North Dakota land in the Conservation Reserve, meanwhile, has declined by a third over the past five years," said Charles. "This year, it's expected to take another plunge, perhaps down to half what it was its peak."

So, bottom line, California almonds--and the nation's bees--are tied to the North Dakota's Conservation Reserve Program.

As Charles correctly pointed out: "This is not just a beekeeper's problem anymore. ...the prosperity of almond growers...depends on what happens to bees on the lonely northern Plains."

To get a really good grasp of the situation, read Hannah Nordhaus' excellent book, "The Beekeeper's Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America." 

NPR interviewed some of the very migratory beekeepers that Nordhaus interviewed. 

Honey bee heading for an almond blossom on Bee Biology Road at UC Davis.  (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee heading for an almond blossom on Bee Biology Road at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee heading for an almond blossom on Bee Biology Road at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee foraging in almond blossoms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee foraging in almond blossoms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee foraging in almond blossoms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Winter Wonderland of Seminars

Assistant professors Louie Yang and Joanna Chiu have just announced the UC Davis Department of Entomology's list of seminar speakers for the winter quarter.

And what a list it is!

It's a winter wonderland of speakers. And the good news is, most will be webcast and then posted on UCTV, compliments of a project led by professor James R. Carey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

The seminars begin Wednesday, Jan. 11 and will continue every Wednesday through March 21. All will be held from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, Klieber Hall Lane.

One subject that's sure to attract a lot of attention: pollen and pollinators. We're looking forward to hearing  T’ai Roulston, research associate professor and curator, State Arboretum of Virginia, speak Feb. 1 on "Pollen as a Resource for Pollinators: What Governs Quality?"

In fact, we're looking forward to all of the speakers!

Here's the line-up:

Jan. 11: Denise Ferkey, assistant professor, State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, will speak on "Regulation of Chemosensory Signaling in C. elegans."
Hosts: Valerie Williamson, professor of nematology, and Ed Lewis, professor of nematology and entomology and acting chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

Jan. 18: Anurag Agrawal, professor of ecology at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., will speak on "Evolutionary Ecology of Plant Defenses."
Host: Andrew Merwin of the Michael Parrella lab.
To be webcast and posted on UCTV

Jan. 25: Mary Louise Flint, Cooperative Extension specialist and associate director for Urban and Community IPM, UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, will speak on "Educating the Urban Public about Insect Pests and their Management."
To be webcast and posted on UCTV

Feb. 1: T’ai Roulston, research associate professor and curator, State Arboretum of Virginia, will speak on "Pollen as a Resource for Pollinators: What Governs Quality?"
Host: Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology.
To be webcast and posted on UCTV

Feb. 8: Damian Elias, assistant professor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley, will speak on "Multimodal Communication in Jumping Spiders."
Host: Leslie Saul of the Neal Williams lab.
To be webcast and posted on UCTV

Feb. 15: Jamesina J. Scott, district manager and research director, Lake County Vector Control District, will speak on  "Aedes japonicus -- Tracking an Invasive Mosquito We Knew Very Little About."
Host: Brittany Mills of the William Reisen lab.
To be webcast and posted on UCTV

Feb. 22: Jennifer Thaler, associate professor, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., will speak on "Tri-Trophic Plant-Insect Interactions in Solanaceous Plants."
Host: Billy Krimmel of the Jay Rosenheim lab
To be webcast and posted on UCTV

Feb. 29: Jay Rosenheim, professor of entomology at UC Davis, will speak on "Insect Ecology in Natural and Agricultural Systems."
Host: Kelly Hamby of the Frank Zalom lab.
To be webcast and posted on UCTV

March 7: Candice Stafford, graduate student researcher in the Diane Ullman lab, will speak on "A Virus at the Helm: Infection with Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus Modifies Thrips Feeding Behavior."
Host: Diane Ullman, professor of entomology and associate dean for undergraduate academic programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
To be webcast and posted on UCTV

March 14: Ulrich Mueller, W. M. Wheeler Lost-Pines Professor of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin, will speak on "Ant-Microbe Interaction and Evolution."
Host: Marek Borowiec of the Phil Ward lab.
To be webcast and posted on UCTV

March 21: Stephen Welter, professor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley, and associate dean of instruction and student affairs, will speak on "Pheromone Mating Disruption Systems for Management of Insects in Perennial Crops:  New Successes with Old Problems."
Host: Steve Seybold, UC Davis Department of Entomology affiliate
To be webcast and posted on UCTV

Pollen packin' honey bee (red pollen from rock purslane) nectaring on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Pollen packin' honey bee (red pollen from rock purslane) nectaring on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Pollen packin' honey bee (red pollen from rockpurslane) nectaring on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee covered with blue pollen from bird's eyes (Gilia tricolor). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee covered with blue pollen from bird's eyes (Gilia tricolor). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Shattering 'Standard Knowledge'

The times, they change. Standard textbook knowledge, that can change, too.

It did today.

For several decades,  few people challenged "the hump-shaped model" developed in the early 1970s by British ecologist Philip Grime who proposed that the number of species rises, then declines with increasing productivity.

Today an international team of 58 ecologists announced that habitat productivity does not predict the diversity of plant species, as previously assumed for several decades.

The groundbreaking research, to be published Sept. 23 in the journal Science (the embargo lifted today at 2 p.m., Eastern Standard Time) shows  “no clear relationship between productivity and the number of plant species in small study plots,” said Utah State University plant ecologist Peter Adler, lead author of the paper.

The ecologists sampled 48 diverse grassland sites on five continents in an innovative, unprecedented project partially supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The abstract:

For more than 30 years, the relationship between net primary productivity and species richness has generated intense debate in ecology about the processes regulating local diversity. The original view, which is still widely accepted, holds that the relationship is hump-shaped, with richness first rising and then declining with increasing productivity. Although recent meta-analyses questioned the generality of hump-shaped patterns, these syntheses have been criticized for failing to account for methodological differences among studies. We addressed such concerns by conducting standardized sampling in 48 herbaceous-dominated plant communities on five continents. We found no clear relationship between productivity and fine-scale richness within sites, within regions, or across the globe. Ecologists should focus on fresh, mechanistic approaches to understanding the multivariate links between productivity and richness.

The paper in Science is one of the first to emerge from the research, launched five years ago when the ecologists formed the Nutrient Network or “NutNet,” a cooperative research initiative dedicated to investigating biodiversity and ecosystem processes in global grasslands.

University of Minnesota researchers Elizabeth Borer and Eric Seabloom received funding from NSF to coordinate the network research. NSF also funds an annual meeting workshop in Minneapolis, where the researchers gather to analyze data.

Among the 58 ecologists participating:  Louie Yang, assistant professor of entomology at UC Davis.

When asked about the research, Yang commented:  “It’s a really innovative approach to ecology. We conducted a coordinated study in diverse grasslands at the 48 sites and we pooled our data together to address some persistent issues in the field. In this paper, we show that plant diversity is not predicted by productivity in any general or simple way; instead, it looks like patterns of plant diversity result from more complex processes which are variable at local, regional and global scales.”

Yang’s research contributions to the network came from a field site at the Sagehen Creek Field Station, located near Truckee in Nevada County. He and Dan Gruner of the University of Maryland have managed a montane or highland meadows site (elevation 6500 feet) since 2007 for their research.

And how did the ecologists measure productivity? Yang talks about this on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website. You'll also want to read what Michael Willig of the University of Connecticut has to say about the paper:  Perspective on Biodiversity and Productivity.

Willig begins with: "Researchers predict that human activities—especially landscape modification and climate change—will have a considerable impact on the distribution and abundance of species at local, regional, and global scales in the 21st century."

Meanwhile, we're anxiously awaiting more published research from the Nutrient Network.

This is the research site at the Sagehen Creek Field Station managed by ecologists Louie Yang of UC Davis and Dan Gruner of the University of Maryland. (Photo Courtesy of Louie Yang)
This is the research site at the Sagehen Creek Field Station managed by ecologists Louie Yang of UC Davis and Dan Gruner of the University of Maryland. (Photo Courtesy of Louie Yang)

This is the research site at the Sagehen Creek Field Station managed by ecologists Louie Yang of UC Davis and Dan Gruner of the University of Maryland. (Photo Courtesy of Louie Yang)

Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 8:24 PM
Tags: ecology (1), Louie Yang (8), Science (1)

Because They Care

It's not just future entomologists who study insects. So do future physicians, veterinarians, chemists, ecologists and scores of others.

Indeed, insects are involved in many biological fields, including genetics and molecular biology; biochemistry and physiology; cell biology; population biology;  behavior and ecology; biodiversity and evolutionary ecology; and agroecology.

At UC Davis, a trio from the Department of Entomology faculty wants to make a difference in college students' education. They've formed a campuswide Undergraduate Honors Research Program in Insect Biology to help undergraduates obtain long-term mentoring and research experiences.

Veteran professor Jay Rosenheim and newer faculty members Louie Yang and Joanna Chiu said they want to "provide academically strong and highly motivated undergraduates with a multi-year research experience that cultivates skills that will prepare them for a career in biological research. This will be useful for students whose career goals will take them to medical school, veterinary school, or graduate programs in any biological sub-discipline.”

UC Davis freshmen and sophomores interested in applying for the program must do so by May 15 by sending an email to Elvira Hack (eghack@ucdavis.edu). In a one-page letter, they will explain their motivation to join the program, and their special interests.  Selected students will then be interviewed.

The gist of the program:

  • During an initial academic retreat (at the Sagehen Creek Field Station in the Sierra Nevada mountains), faculty will instruct students about the process of science, approaches to choosing research questions, and the core elements of experimental design.
  • Students will be placed in a faculty mentor’s laboratory.  The goal: to find a strong match between the student’s research interests and the research focus of the mentoring faculty member’s lab.
  • Students will be encouraged to take supporting coursework in insect biology (that is, general entomology, insect physiology, insect ecology) to provide the most relevant foundational information for conducting research in insect biology.
  • For many participating students, it’s expected that there will be a natural transition from paid positions (when the students are contributing to a larger research effort) to course credits (when the students are  pursuing their own independent research).
  • Students will receive ongoing training and career guidance in conducting research, scientific writing, presentation of research results at professional scientific meetings, and all aspects of preparing applications for graduate or professional schools.

We applaud the work that Rosenheim, Yang and Chiu are doing, and the 30-some members of the mentoring faculty.

Rosenheim, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty in 1990, has long supported the academic and research needs of students. In fact, on May 11, he will receive a UC Davis Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching.  Faculty and students consider him "an extraordinary educator, a remarkable scholar and a superb teacher and mentor."

The ultimate compliment, however, came from an unsolicited comment on the web:  “the best teacher at (UC) Davis. Hands down. Take him if you can.”

Lygus bug (Lygus herperus) could be one of the insects studied in the honors program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Lygus bug (Lygus herperus) could be one of the insects studied in the honors program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Lygus bug (Lygus herperus) could be one of the insects studied in the honors program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

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