First Entomology Alumni Reunion

On October 21st, 2017, as part of Alumni / Homecoming Weekend, the Essig Museum of Entomology hosted a gathering for UC Berkeley entomology alumni. We reached out to former undergraduate and graduate students from Berkeley’s entomology program and saw some familiar faces and met others who were part of our university’s entomological past. Alumni reconnected with one another, enjoyed food, wine, talks and exhibits from our current faculty, graduate students, and the Essig Museum. Award for farthest traveled to attend the event goes to Kim Hoelmer, from Newark, Delaware! It was wonderful to meet and catch up with Berkeley entomologists from the past and present- we plan to make this an annual event.

In attendance: Shan Amin, Elizabeth Arias, Dick Arnold, Cheryl Barr, Dylan Beal, Art Berlowitz, Roberta and Bob Brett, Jan Buellesbach, Leo & Ana Caltagirone, Don Calvert, Elizabeth Cash, Les Casher, Kezia Coster, Sara Crews, Paul & Maria da Silva, Paul Daley, John De Benedictis, Kim Do, Jenny Florio, David Garnick, Josh Gibson, Rosemary Gillespie, Natalie Graham, Charles Griswold, Lisa Marie Harris, Shiran Hershcovich, Kim Hoelmer, Casey Hubber, Deanna Jackson, Alan Kaplan, Susan Kennedy, Max Klepikov, Anthena Lam, Bob Lane, Vernard & Lisa Lewis, Jessica Maccaro, Kevi Mace, Patina Mendez, Seongmin Nam, Ida Naughton, Peter Oboyski, Nina Pak, Sean Perez, Alan Poropat, Jerry Powell, Julian Rasco, Vince and Cheryl Resh, Kevin Roberts, George Roderick, Valle Rogers, Paul Rude, Bill Shepard, Andre Szeiner, Lisa Treidel, Neil Tsutsui, Matthew Van Dam, Brandt Weary, Noah Whiteman, Brian Whyte, Kip Will, Caroline Williams, David & Caroline Wood, and Bob Zuparko.

Essig Museum Research Associate Elizabeth Arias and Berkeley Alumnus John DeBenedictis picking up their name tags as they entered the event.

 

Alumni, students and faculty enjoyed a variety of food and beverages as they caught up with one another.

 

So many choices…

 

Berkeley graduate students were instrumental in helping to make the evening a success.

 

Essig Museum Director Kip Will and Berkeley professor George Roderick address the group.

 

Essig Museum Collection Manager Pete Oboyski talks about the function of the Essig Museum and its daily activities.

 

Professor Noah Whiteman describes his research on insect-plant interactions and genomics.

 

Kip Will tells the audience about his ongoing research projects with carabid beetles.

 

Berkeley professor Neil Tsutsui Talks to the group about his research on ants and other social Hymenoptera.

 

Browsing the various displays at the event.

Photos by Max Klepikov.

Lepidopterists honor Jerry Powell

Speakers from the Powell symposium (l-r): Dave Wagner, Frank Hsu, Felix Sperling, Eric Metzler, Dan Rubinoff, Jerry Powell, Jim Kruse, Kelly Richers, Peter Oboyski, John Brown.

Dr. Jerry Powell was honored on July 30, 2017, at the Lepidopterist Society annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona, with a symposium organized by John Brown, Dan Rubinoff, and Dave Wagner. Speakers included students and colleagues who roasted and toasted Jerry, who sat with his wife Liz in arm chairs at the front of the room. A general theme throughout the presentations (besides Jerry’s demanding and often gruff facade) was how he influenced the trajectory of each person’s career. Others who chimed in remotely, either by Skype or email, included: Dan Janzen, Jim Liebherr, Cheryl Barr, and John De Benedictis. 

Jerry and Liz with front row seats to the roastng.

Jerry is known largely for his work in Lepidoptera, particularly microlepidoptera (ie. small moths). His publications (>240) include Moths of Western North America, (Field Guide to) California Insects, the biology and systematics of spruce budworm, Lepidoptera of the California Channel Islands, yuccas and yucca moths, insects of California sand dune habitats, and a long list of collaborations on various moth groups, including the taxonomy, systematics, and biology of Tortricidae, Heliodinidae, Ethmiidae, Prodoxidae, Pyralidae, and many others. He described as new 227 species of Lepidoptera, and collected over 440 holotypes in various groups. Over 40 species of insects have been named for Powell in seven orders to-date (Hemiptera x1, Neuroptera x1, Diptera x9, Coleoptera x4, Hymenoptera x5, Trichoptera x1, Lepidoptera x22). A true “vacuum cleaner” collector, Powell has contributed many hundreds of thousands of specimens to the Essig Museum of Entomology, where he still curates the Lepidoptera collection a few hours every day.

Comic on Powell’s office door.

Speakers also reminded the audience of their favorite Powell quotes and phrases: “If it was easy someone would have done it already”, “Science moves forward by creeps and jerks”, “chowdered”, “corked”, “good grief”, “One larva; two larvae / NO EXCEPTIONS”, Powell’s Law: “No biologist studies anything found within 100 miles of where they live.”

Although Jerry’s main research focus has always been the insect fauna of western North America, especially California, what was evident from the comments of speakers and other contributors is Jerry’s depth and breadth of knowledge in both insects and plants (and their interactions), and his influence on the careers of entomologists throughout the country and on most continents. Perhaps just as telling is a comment made by a citizen scientist helping to digitize label data from the Essig Museum specimen collection through our Notes From Nature portal who quipped, “Who is this Jerry Powell? Is he some sort of vampire? He has been collecting for over 60 years!”

Jerry Powell collecting in Anza Borrego, March 2017.