Zain Syed Accepts Faculty Position at the University of Notre Dame
July 13, 2011
Zain Syed, shown here at the Entomological Society of America meeting in San Diego, where he co-organized a symposium, has accepted a faculty position at the University of Notre Dame. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
DAVIS--Zainulabeuddin “Zain” Syed, postdoctoral researcher in the Walter Leal chemical ecology lab for the past six years, has just accepted a faculty position at the University of Notre Dame.
Beginning Aug. 22, Syed will join the Department of Biological Sciences as an assistant professor. He will teach and continue his work in sensory physiology and behavior of insects.
"Notre Dame is very fortunate to have a scholar of Zain's caliber on its faculty," Leal said.
Syed and his wife, Zeeshan, a former employee at the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, and their son, Faisal, 5 1/2, and daughter, Hajira, 2, will leave Davis for Notre Dame, Ind., in August.
Syed joined the Leal lab in February of 2005 after serving as a postdoctoral scholar at the Free University, Germany for nearly two years.
In the Leal lab, he did research on the identification of attractants and repellents for mosquitoes from natural sources; and on the function of proteins involved in insect smell.
He and Leal, professor of entomology and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, discovered the mode of action of the insect repellent DEET, groundbreaking research that drew national and international media coverage. In other groundbreaking research, they identified nonanal as an attractant for Culex mosquitoes, which transmits West Nile virus and other life-threatening diseases. The research explains the chemosensory adaptations in mosquitoes that enable them to shift hosts from birds to humans. The work paves the way for key developments in mosquito and disease control.
They also serendipitously discovered that the fruit fly, Drosophila, has a native odorant receptor that detects the silkworm moth’s sex pheromone, and that it’s “amazingly more sensitive” than the moth’s odorant receptor. A detailed investigation of these two divergent receptors responding to the same ligand, bombykol, led to some outstanding discoveries on how odors and receptor proteins interact.
In 2009 Syed was named one of two "UC Davis Outstanding Postdoctoral Research Scholars" from a pool of 800 postdocs and 12 finalists. The campuswide award, given to one or two persons a year, is sponsored by the UC Davis Postdoctoral Scholars’ Association and the Office of Graduate Studies. Syed also received a UC Davis Citation for Excellence from the UC Davis Staff Assembly in 2008.
Published widely and in demand as a peer reviewer for numerous scientific journals, Syed was recommended by "The Faculty of 1000” for three research articles published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (2006, 2008 and 2009).
Active in the Entomological Society of America (ESA), Syed has served as a speaker or moderator at the annual meetings for the past several years. He and colleague Woodbridge Foster of the Department of Entomology, Ohio State University, co-organized a symposium on “Sweet Tooth in Mosquitoes: How Flowers and Nectars Can Guide Us Toward Unisex Mosquito Attractants” for the 2010 ESA meeting in San Diego.
Syed earned his doctorate in sensory physiology and behavior in 2002 from the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He earlier graduated from universities in India, received his master’s in agricultural entomology and his bachelor’s in combined sciences.
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology