UC Davis Linnaean Team Wins Pacific Branch Championship
|The 2012 UC Davis Linnaean Team, which just won the regional championship, is comprised of (from left) Kelly Hamby, Matan Shelomi, Kelly Liebman and Jenny Carlson. With them is their mascot, Max, belonging to Carlson. Shelomi is holding a walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)|
DAVIS--They know their insects.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology's Linnaean Team, comprised of four graduate students, won the championship at the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America competition, held Monday night, March 26, in Portland, Ore. The team now heads to the Linnaean finals at ESA's 60th annual meeting, set for Nov. 11-14 in Knoxville, Tenn. The prize: $500 to help defray the costs.
The UC Davis team is comprised of Matan Shelomi, Kelly Hamby, Kelly Liebman, and Jenny Carlson, and is advised Extension entomology specialist Larry Godfrey of the Department of Entomology faculty.
Six teams—UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, University of Idaho, and two teams for Washington State—competed in the lively six-round event, held from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. The Linnaean Games are college bowl-style games based on entomological facts and insect trivia. Team members respond to the moderator's questions by buzzing in with the answers.
In the first round, UC Davis was pitted against one of the WSU teams. “The questions were very difficult compared to the two rounds that preceded us,” Shelomi said. “We tied 30/30, but we won the tiebreaker question. It was a picture question showing a map of Ball's Pyramid, Lord Howe Island, New Zealand, taken from a recent National Public Radio (NPR) article on an insect recently rediscovered there after having been thought to be extinct.”
The answer: Lord Howe Island Phasmid, Dryococelus australis, also known as a land lobster.
Shelomi, the team’s phasmid expert, said he "was very happy to see that picture and knew the answer before they asked the question. After that, we played the University of Idaho and won, then we had a showdown with UC Berkeley for the top two positions.” Both will represent the Pacific Branch in Knoxville.
It was a long night, the UC Davis team agreed. The UC Davis team played three out of the total of six games.
Hamby served as the agricultural entomology and integrated pest management (IPM) expert on the team; Liebman and Carlson, medical entomology; and Shelomi, insect physiology.
All four are studying for their doctorates. Hamby’s major professor is IPM specialist Frank Zalom; Liebman’s major professor, medical entomologist Tom Scott (she receives funds from a grant awarded to medical entomologist Greg Lanzaro, School of Veterinary Medicine); Shelomi’s major professor, Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology; and Jenny Carlson’s major professors are medical entomologists Anthony “Anton” Cornel and Gregory Lanzaro.
Some other questions asked:
Name four of the six orders of arthropods represented in the circus troupe from the movie "A Bug's Life." (Answers: Lepidoptera, Mantodea, Coleoptera, Phasmatodea, Isopoda, Aranaea.)
What are the two diseases caused by trypanosomes and vectored by insects, and where do they occur? (Answers: Chagas in South America, African Sleeping Sickness in sub-Saharan Africa.)
This is the second consecutive year that a UC Davis team has won the Pacific Branch competition. The 2011 team competing at the regionals was comprised of Shelomi; Meredith Cenzer, a graduate student in the Louie Yang lab; Emily Symes, graduate student in the Frank Zalom lab; and James Harwood, graduate student in the James Carey lab. At the national finals, Shelomi and Cenzer were joined by team members Andrew Merwin of the Michael Parrella lab, and Mohammad-Amir Aghaee of the Godfrey lab. UC Davis made it to the semifinals by defeating Iowa State. In the championship game, the University of Nebraska defeated North Carolina State University.
Each individual branch of the ESA may send its winning team and runner-up to compete in the nationals. Gold medals are awarded to the winning team, and silver medals to the runner-up team. In addition, each team receives a plaque for its department.
The Pacific Branch of the ESA includes the following states and provinces:
United States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.
U.S. Territories: American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Midway Islands, Wake Island.
Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Yukon.
Mexico: Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Sonora.
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology