LAURELS: What’s All the Chirping About?

Ann Hedrick and cricket art
Cricket art: Ann Hedrick has been studying the species Gryllus integer for more than 30 years. (David Slipher/UC Davis)

Quick Summary

  • Ann Hedrick, adjunct professor, elected a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society
  • ‘Insight Into Diversity’ magazine recognizes STEM Program for Girls program as ‘Inspirational’
  • The Women’s Resources and Research Center and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering present STEM for Girls annually for ages 10-12
  • ‘ACE’ communicators in agriculture, environmental sciences, biological sciences and integrated pest management

“You do the work because you love it and you do it regardless, but it’s very nice to be recognized,” says Ann Hedrick, adjunct professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior, about her recent election as a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society.

Fellows are recognized for their research, which, in Hedrick’s case, has to do with the evolution of behavior, including mating behavior.

The society’s newsletter, quoting from testimonials in support of Hedrick’s election, notes how she started to have an impact on the discipline of animal behavior as a graduate student. She had come to UC Davis, where she would earn a Master of Science degree in 1984 and Ph.D. in 1987, both in zoology, and had a general hypothesis about animal behavior: that females select mates based on heritable traits.

“It’s hard to remember that at one point conventional wisdom was that behavior doesn’t have a heritable component,” the newsletter reads. Ann’s 1988 paper was one of the first and most important to put a nail in that coffin.”

To test the hypothesis, she needed a test species with a discernible trait that also had a short generation time. Crickets fit the bill – the field cricket Gryllus integer. More than 30 years later, her research continues her initial line of inquiry as a graduate student, but now she’s delving into the world of animal personalities as well.

Read College of Biological Sciences' feature story on Hedrick, her research and her test subjects: field crickets that she finds on campus.

Girls gather around professor at a table.
Stephen Noctor, an associate professor in the School of Medicine, teaches STEM for Girls participants about brains. (Courtesy photo)

STEM for Girls, a UC Davis program for girls in Yolo and Sacramento counties, has recently been named a winner of a 2018 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine.

The national honor recognizes colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

STEM for Girls immerses about 60 girls, age 10 to 12, in the fields through a one-day program of workshops and more. Guided by UC Davis student volunteers, the participants have built working electrical circuits, tasted fermented food, explored the science of flavors and untangled mathematical knots. They also tour campus labs, maker spaces and farms to meet scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians in their places of work.

STEM for Girls, which plans to hold its eighth annual event on May 11, 2019, is a joint program of the Women’s Resources and Research Center in Student Affairs and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering in the College of Engineering.

“Our goals are to expose students to STEM fields, build confidence in their abilities to participate in STEM and introduce them to role models in the fields,” said Sara Blair-Medeiros, assistant director of outreach at the Women’s Resources and Research Center.

The magazine will feature STEM for Girls and 77 other recipients of the award, announced last week, in its September issue.

Presenting our “ACE” communicators for 2018, winners in the Critique and Awards Program of the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences, which goes by ACE for short.

Diane Nelson, communication specialist, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, earned two perfect scores — and two gold awards — for “Weighing Pig Personality,” promotional writing; and “The Last Stop: When There’s Nowhere Colder to Go,” writing for the web (this story is posted on the UC Davis Science & Climate site).

Kathy Keatley Garvey, communication specialist, Department of Entomology and Nematology, earned a perfect score and a gold award for “Why These Youngsters Want to Become Entomologists,” newswriting; and a silver award for “Once Upon a Monarch,” writing for the web (this is an entry on her “Bug Squad” blog).

The College of Biological Sciences communications team earned two ACE awards: gold for David Slipher, director of marketing and communications, for “Calisi Lab: Pigeons,” picture story; and bronze for Greg Watry, science writer, for “Creating Research Opportunities in the Calisi Lab, One Undergraduate at a Time,” writing for diverse audiences.

UC Agricultural and Natural Resources’ Davis-based peer-reviewed journal, California Agriculture, earned a gold award in the magazine category. Jim Downing is the executive editor.

Steve Elliott, communication coordinator, Western Integrated Pest Management Center, housed with Agriculture and Natural Resources in Davis, scored three ACE awards: silver for “America’s Arctic Agriculture: Growing Crops, Managing Pests and Monitoring Invasives in Alaska,” photo essay; silver for “Gold Spotted Oak Borer: A Threat to California’s Oaks,” diversity video; and bronze for The Western Front e-newsletter.

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