Bee scientist Brian Johnson of UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, with a frame of bees.
Bee scientist Brian Johnson, coordinator of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminars for the academic year, 2023-24, examines a frame of bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Department's Spring Quarter Seminars

This is the list of UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's spring quarter seminars, coordinated by Brian Johnson, associate professor.

The in-person seminars all took place from  4:10 to 5 p.m., Mondays in 122 Briggs Hall. All also were on Zoom: 5882849672

No seminar was held May 27 (Memorial Day).

Monday, April 1
Jamie Ellis, Gahan Endowed Professor of Entomology, University of Florida
Title: “Understanding the Risk that Pesticides Pose to Honey Bees"
Description: Jamie Ellis is the Gahan Endowed Professor of Entomology in the Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida. He holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Georgia and a PhD in entomology from Rhodes University, South Africa. At the University of Florida, his responsibilities include Extension, instruction, and research. Regarding his Extension activities, Ellis works with assorted clientele through diverse programming, such as the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Bee College and the UF/IFAS Master Beekeeper Program. As an instructor, he supervises doctoral and and masters' degree students. Currently he and his team engage in more than 30 active research projects in the fields of honey bee husbandry, conservation and ecology, and integrated crop pollination.

Monday, April 8
Eduardo Almeida, associate professor, University of São Paulo, Brazil
Title: “The Evolutionary History of Bees in Time and Space” 
Abstract: "Bees likely originated in the Early Cretaceous (120 million years ago), shortly before the breakup of Western Gondwana (Africa and South America), and the early evolution of any major bee lineage is associated with either the South American or African land masses. I will present the results of an investigation on bee biogeograpy using extensive new genomic and fossil data to demonstrate that bees originated in Western Gondwana. Bees later colonized northern continents via a complex history of vicariance and dispersal. The notable early absences of these insects from large landmasses, particularly in Australia and India, have important implications for understanding the assembly of local floras and diverse modes of pollination. The partnership between flowering plants and bees began in the Cretaceous, and the history of how bees spread around the world from their hypothesized southern hemisphere origin parallels the histories of numerous plant clades."
View his recorded seminar at

Monday, April 15
Zachary Lamas, research entomologist, honey bees, USDA-ARS
Title: “How Doing a PhD Is Like Building a House”
Description: Zac Lamas is a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) IFA postdoctoral fellow under Jay Evans at the Bee Research laboratory in Beltsville, MD. He largely studies how behavior drives pathogen transmission in honey bee colonies.
Abstract: "This presentation describes how the intersection of life experiences and my PhD led to creative and generative research that led to large discovery in disease transmission dynamics in collapsing honey bee colonies."

Monday, April 22
Adam Wong, assistant professor, University of Florida
Title: “Microbial Modulation of Host Behavior: Insights from Drosophila
Description: Adam Wong is an assistant professor in the Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida. Originally from Hong Kong, he received his PhD in entomology from Cornell University and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Sydney, Australia (2013-15) and Harvard Medical School Boston Children’s Hospital (2015-17) before joining UF. His research program focuses on understanding how microbe-host interactions shape diverse behavioral and physiological traits in various insect systems.
Abstract: "A central question in behavioral biology is how environmental and genetic factors shape behavioral traits, allowing for substantial individuality. Homeostatic behaviors like foraging and food preferences are prime examples of genetic predispositions integrating with the food environment to produce diverse feeding habits. However, these programs are further modified by host-associated microbes, suggesting the overall systems controlling behavioral phenotype is far more complex than first anticipated. My lab studies foraging behaviors in Drosophila (D. melanogaster and D. suzukii), using a gnotobiotic approach that permits precise configuration of the fly microbiome. In this presentation, I will share our recent findings that suggest host nutritional behaviors are shaped by the microbiome; and our ongoing work combining multi-omics and video tracking behavioral assays to elucidate the mechanisms underlying behavioral modulation by the microbiome."

Monday, April 29
Melissa Guzman, assistant professor, University of Southern California
Title: “Using Occupancy Models to Infer Trends of Bee Biodiversity in North America”
Description: Laura Melissa Guzman is a Gabilan assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California (USC). She received her Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia and her M.Res. at Imperial College, London. Before joining USC, she was a Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellow at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia.
Abstract: "Historical museum records provide potentially useful data for identifying drivers of temporal trends in species occupancy, however, because these records were not explicitly collected for this purpose, methodological developments are needed in order to enable robust inferences. Occupancy-detection models, a relatively new and powerful suite of methods, are potentially useful here, because these models allow us to account for changes in collection effort through space and time. Applying such occupancy-detection models to historical museum records is not a straightforward process, as these models have strict data requirements that museum data usually do not meet. Here I will present a methodological road-map for using occupancy models to analyze historical museum records. I use simulated data-sets to identify how and when modeling decisions and patterns in data can bias inferences. I will focus primarily on the consequences of contrasting methodological approaches for dealing with species ranges and non-detections in both space and time. Finally, I will present an application of these methods to bees in North America and will present drivers of change for these species in the past 30 years."
Watch Recording

Monday, May 6
Clement Chow, associate professor, University of Utah
Title: “Flying to the Clinic: Drug Repurposing Screen for Rare Diseases”
Description: Clement Chow received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 2003. He completed his Ph.D. in 2008 in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Michigan, where he worked with Miriam Meisler. Clement completed his postdoctoral training as a co-mentored postdoc with Andy Clark and Mariana Wolfner at Cornell University.
Abstract: "Our lab is focused on understanding the role of genetic variation on disease outcomes. We employ quantitative and functional tools, in a variety of model organisms, to study how genetic variation impacts basic cellular traits important to human health. Our work in model organisms will help to model and inform studies of genetic variation in the human population. We hope to identify variation that can lead to more precise, personalized therapies, especially for rare disease."
Watch Recording

Monday, May 13
Alejandro Del-Pozo, assistant professor, Virginia Tech
Title: "Expanding the Toolbox: Applied Research for Improving IPM in Specialty Crops"
Description: Alejandro Del-Pozo is an applied insect ecologist at Virginia Tech. He is located at the Hampton Roads Research Station in Virginia Beach. Del-Pozo is also an extension specialist, serving the ornamental and turfgrass industries. His research focused on providing applied and science-based solutions to implement an IPM program. He holds a master in Entomology from Washington State University and a PhD in Entomology from North Carolina State University.
Abstract: "This seminar will present an overview of the research efforts conducted by the applied insect ecology lab at Virginia Tech. Nursery crops and turfgrass are used as study cases to better understand pest biology and ecology. During this seminar, the audience will learn more about pest phenology in-field monitoring, landscape ecology, alternative control tactics such as mating disruption, remote sensing and releasing beneficials with drones. The ultimate goal of conducting this research is to provide science-based solutions and improve pest management programs among affected stakeholders.”
Watch Recording

Monday, May 20 (exit seminar)
Danielle Rutkowski, UC Davis doctoral candidate in Rick Karban and Rachel  Vannette labs
Title: "Identity and Functions of Symbiotic Fungi Associated with Social Bees"
Abstract: "Social bees interact with diverse microbial communities that reside in flowers, in their nests, and within their guts. Fungi are common inhabitants of these environments, but despite their prevalence, little is known about their interactions with bees and their impacts on bee health. In my thesis, I identified common fungal associates of social bees and investigated their effects on bumble bee health, specifically focusing on their roles in bee response to fungicide, bee nutrition, and protection from pathogens. I identified several yeast groups frequently associated with social bees, including the genera Starmerella and Zygosaccharomyces. Addition of these yeasts to bee diets improved survival and reproduction, and for one species, helped bees recover from negative effects of fungicide exposure. However, a follow-up study determined that these benefits to bee health are inconsistent and unrelated to bee nutrition. Rather, benefits of these yeasts instead may be mediated through pathogen suppression, as Starmerella yeasts are able to inhibit the growth of multiple fungal pathogens of bees. These results highlight the important impacts of these currently understudied microbes on bumble bee health, with implications for conservation of these pollinators."
Watch Recording

Monday, June 3
James R. Carey, UC Davis distinguished professor and senior scholar in the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at UC Berkeley
Title: "California's Fruit Fly Invasion Crisis"
Description: James R. Carey is a Distinguished Professor of Entomology at UC Davis and senior scholar in the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at UC Berkeley with research interests in insect biodemography, mortality dynamics, and insect invasion biology. Professor Carey received his BS and MS degrees from Iowa State University (1973; 1975) and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley (1980). He is a fellow of four professional societies including the Entomological Society of America, the AAAS, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Gerontological Society of America. He is former director (2003-13) of a 11-university consortium funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIH/P01) on the evolutionary ecology of lifespan. He is a co-author of the book Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods (Carey, J. R. and D. Roach. 2020; Princeton University Press) and author of three previous books including “Demography for Biologists (Oxford University Press 1993), Longevity (Princeton University Press, 2003), and Longevity Records: Life Spans of Mammals, Birds, Amphibians and Reptiles (Odense, 2000) and over 250 journal articles and book chapters. He teaches an upper division undergraduate course titled "Longevity" fall quarter and summer session that is based on biodemographic concepts in both non-human species and humans. He also offers seminars and workshops on best practices in visualization concepts and presentation strategies including a week course every year to PhD fellows in Kampala, Uganda enrolled in the 9-university Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA).
Abstract: "After seven decades of near-continuous outbreaks in scores of California cities, tephritid fruit fly invasions (e.g., Mediterranean, oriental, peach, and Mexican fruit flies) are reaching critical mass, with many of the annual eradication programs morphing into below-the-radar, never-ending fruit fly control programs," Carey says in his abstract. "Permanent establishment of any one of these tropical species has the potential to shut down the multi-billion dollar domestic and foreign markets for hundreds of California fruit and vegetable crops. I will present an overview of the long-developing crisis, discuss lessons learned from analysis of fruit fly detection databases, and argue that, in order to have any chance at stemming this ever-rising tide, CDFA  and the USDA  urgently need to switch from their historic, ad hoc eradication strategy to a new one that is evidence-based and far more scientific."
See YouTube at

UC Davis ENT Department Ranked Third in the Country 
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is ranked third among  “The Best Entomology Colleges in the United States for 2024" by  The department includes 24 active and 19 retired faculty;  28 graduate students (five in the master's degree program and 23 in the doctoral degree program); 47 undergraduate entomology majors (based on the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS)  Student Reports); and a staff comprised of 27 academics (non-faculty), 24 career, and 56 student assistants. Professor and chair of the department is molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu. Community ecologist Rachel Vannette, associate professor, serves as the vice chair. 

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