Kathy N. Schick

k_schickResearch Associate

1170 Valley Life Sciences Building
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-3112
(510) 643-0804


I have a bachelors degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and I received both masters and PhD degrees in Entomology from the University of California at Davis. My specialties are insect systematics and Cynipoidea (Hymenoptera).

I was very lucky to be hired part-time at the Essig Museum of Entomology within a few months of completing my doctorate. I love working in a world-class research collection and having all the campus resources (especially the library). I have also been fortunate in being able to work as an adjunct instructor of biology at San Joaquin Delta Community College and some semesters as a visiting professor of biology at the University of the Pacific, both in Stockton, where I reside. Each semester I am assigned a different biology course, new text and new prep, so I never have time to be bored and I am constantly learning.

In my spare time I volunteer at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Research Interests

Cynipoidea are all parasitic Hymenoptera so these tiny wasps cannot sting. Half the species are gall-inducers (family Cynipidae) and the other half are parasitoids on maggots and other larvae (Families Ibaliidae, Liopteridae and Figitidae).

Cynipidae gall-inducers are fascinating in that they are very specialized to their organ of the host plant. Yet, anyone familiar with plant galls in California will recognize galls of many undescribed cynipid species. Moreover, most of the oak galling cynipids (Cynipini) have alternating generations which form two very different kinds of galls, yet in California we have matched up only a few of our Cynipini generations. I am currently working on describing a group of Cynipini and I hope to learn more about their biology (and alternating generations) as well as their phylogenetic relationships. I spend weekends hiking through oak woodlands collecting galls and my kitchen is filled with gall rearing containers.

I recently had the pleasure of working with Ron Russo editing his 2007 Field Guide to Plant Galls of California and Other Western States. A few years before that I was a scientific advisor for jumping galls (Neuroterus saltatorius) in Sir David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth film series.

The Figitidae are all koinobiont endoparasitoids, keeping their hosts alive through many instars. My initial work has been on charipine Figitidae (hyperparasitoiods of aphids), eucoiline Figitidae (fly parasitoids) and Liopteridae (beetle parasitoids). However my current research projects have involved emarginine figitids, which we suspect are tropical and myrmecophilous, although no one has ever seen one alive. This photo shows me sweeping tropical grasses, searching for emarginines.


Online media

KQED Deep Look series – What Gall! The crazy cribs of parasitic wasps

Selected Publications

Erwin DM & KN Schick. 2007. Miocene Oak Galls from Western North America, Jourbal of Paleontology, 81(3): 568-580.
Schick KN. 2003. Fauna Iberica, Vol 16: Hymenoptera, Cynipidae by Jose Luis Nieves- Aldrey (book review) Proceedings, Entomological Society of Washington, 105(4): 1087.
Schick KN, Z Liu and P Goldstein. 2003. Phylogeny, Historical biogeography, and macroevolution of host use among Diastrophus gallwasps (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae) Proceedings, Entomological Society of Washington, 105(3): 715-732.
Schick KN, & DL Dahlsten. 2003. Gallmaking and Insects in Vincent H. Resh & Ring Cardé, eds., Encyclopedia of Insects, Academic Press, 1266 pp.
Schick KN. 2002. Cynipid-induced Galls and California Oaks. Fremontia, 30(3 & 4): 15-18.
Schick KN. 2002. Obituary: Robert Judson Lyon, 1918-2000 Proceedings, Entomological Society of Washington 104(1):245-246.
Gould F, G Kennedy, R Kopanic et al. 1996. Environmental Issues Associated with Enhancing the Impact of Biological Control Agents: A Student Debate. American Entomologist. Pp.160-173.
Schick KN. 1994. Dilyta subclavata Forster (Hymenoptera: Charipidae) Found in North America and New Records for D. rathmanae Menke and Evenhuis, with a Key to the Two Species in North America Proceedings, Entomological Society of Washington 96(3):580-581.