Posts Tagged: Walter Leal
When chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, was elected to the prestigious Brazilian Academy of Sciences, his lab members donned matching t-shirts--t-shirts with a touch of humor and a dose of humility.
On the front: "I did the work."
On the back: "And Walter Leal got in the Academy."
It was his idea and he purchased the t-shirts.
Leal, a native of Brazil, will be honored at a ceremony on May 7 in Rio de Janeiro.
“Let me say that your election to the Brazilian Academy of Sciences is a well-deserved recognition for your accomplishments as a distinguished scientist in your field of studies, entomology, and also for the very important role you have been playing in promoting cooperation among Brazilian and U.S .universities and, through those arrangements, fostering scientific development in our country,” said Ambassador Eduardo Prisco of the Brazilian Consulate in San Francisco.
Leal, a native of Brazil, is a liaison with UC Davis and the Brazil government’s Scientific Mobility Program, launched to exchange graduate and undergraduate students.
The U.S. currently hosts the largest number of students participating in the Brazil government’s Scientific Mobility Program, according to the Institute of International Education, and UC Davis leads the nation, hosting more than 30 Brazilian undergraduate scholarship students. Leal is also involved in the Brazilian/UC Davis student exchange with the Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) grants for research related to Brazil.
A pioneer in the field of insect communication and on the cutting edge of research, Leal employs innovative approaches to insect olfaction problems. His work examines how insects detect smells, communicate with their species, detect host and non-host plants, and detect prey. Leal has designed and synthesized complex pheromones from many insects, including scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles and the citrus leafminer. He and his lab discovered the secret mode of the insect repellent DEET.
Leal, educated in Brazil and Japan, joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2000. He holds a doctorate in applied biochemistry from Tsukuba University, Japan, and also earned degrees in chemical engineering and agricultural chemistry.
You'll be hearing much more of Walter Leal. Active in national and international entomological circles, the UC Davis professor is serving as co-chair of the International Congress of Entomology (ICE) conference, to be hosted by the Entomological Society of America (ESA) Sept. 25-30, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.
His honors and awards are many. He is a Fellow of the ESA, the Royal Entomological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served as president of the International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE). Among his awards: the ISCE Silver Medal, and awards from ESA and scientific societies in Japan and Brazil.
Caption (Top Photo):
The Walter Leal lab wore humorous t-shirts to announce his selection to the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. Four countries are represented in this lab photo. The four in front are (from left) Junior Specialist Hang Gao, United States; Professor Fen Zhu, Huazhong Agricultural University, China; Professor Leal, a native of Brazil; and Graduate Student Alyssa De La Rosa (Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry Graduate Group). Circling them in back are (from left) Postdoctoral Fellow Cherre Sade, Brazil; Postdoctoral Fellow Young-Moo Choo, Korea; Project Scientist Pingxi Xu, China; Graduate Student Kevin Cloonan (entomology major), Professor Carlos Ueira Vieira, Federal University of Uberlandia, Brazil; Graduate Student Yinliang Wang, Northeast Normal University, China; and Graduate Student Washington Carvalho, Federal University of Uberlandia.
The Walter Leal lab wearing matching t-shirts. See caption at end of the blog. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Walter Leal (back to camera) talking to his lab members. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis entomology graduate student Kevin Rayne Cloonan not only won a coveted award for his research presentation at the 60th meeting of the Entomological Society of America in Knoxville, Tenn., but it may prove to be a boon to California almond growers.
Cloonan, who is studying for his master’s degree with chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor of entomology, won a second-place award for his insect repellent research on the navel orangeworm (NOW), a major pest of California’s almond industry.
His talk was part of the 10-minute graduate student presentations.
Cloonan presented his paper on “Potential Oviposition Repellent for the Navel Orangeworm (Amyelois transitella) in Almond Orchards of Central California.” For his research, he tested 20 broad spectrum insect repellents as potential oviposition repellents. Bedoukian Research Inc. developed the repellents.
Cloonan's work involved electrophysiological recordings, laboratory behavioral assays, and a field behavioral assay. He first used electroantennogram (EAG) assays to identify which of those 20 repellents the female antennae could detect. Of the 20 repellents, three showed significant EAG responses, he said.
In testing the oviposition repellency under laboratory conditions with laboratory populations, he found that two of the three repellents showed significantly reduced oviposition; they were then tested with field populations in almond orchards in Arbuckle.
“One especially looks very promising,” said Cloonan, adding “I couldn’t have done this research without the support and help of Dr. Leal and everyone in the Leal lab.”
Cloonan has been asked to present a poster at the Almond Board of California conference, to be held Dec. 11-13 at the Sacramento Convention Center.
At the ESA meeting, Cloonan’s presentation was one of 14 vying for top honors in the Plant-Insect Ecosytems (P-IE) Section. The P-IE Section includes behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary relationships in natural landscapes, as well as integrated pest management (IPM) in agriculture, horticulture, forests, and lawn and garden. The section also deals with aspects of crop protection, host-plant response, plant pathology/vectors, pollination, biological control, microbial control, and others.
Cloonan, who plans to pursue his doctorate in entomology, is a graduate of the University of Idaho, with a bachelor's degree in entomology.
Almonds are big business in California and getting bigger.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service forecasts California’s 2012 almond crop at a record-breaking 2.10 billion meat pounds, valued at approximately $3 billion. Eighty-percent of the global supply of almonds is grown in California, and about 70 percent of California’s crop is marketed overseas.
Honey bees from all over the country are trucked to California to pollinate the state’s 780,000 acres of almonds, which begin blooming in mid-February, around Valentine's Day. Two bee colonies are required to pollinate each acre--and that's a lot of bees!
Navel orangeworms lay their eggs in almonds, pistachios and walnuts, with the resulting caterpillars (larvae) causing major damage. This is an adult on a pistachio. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Walter Leal isn’t participating in the Olympics, but he medaled just the same.
It was not for athletic prowess, but for scholarly achievements—the scientific equivalent of an international gold medal.
Leal, a chemical ecologist and a professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is the recipient of the coveted Silver Medal, the highest award given by the International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE).
A native of Brazil and educated in Brazil and Japan, Leal researches how insects detect smells and communicate within their species. He is “one of the foremost authorities on the integration of chemical ecology with the molecular, biochemical and physiological interactions among insects and between insects and plants,” said chemical ecologist Coby Schal, professor at North Carolina State University, who nominated him for the award.
Bruce Hammock, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, wrote a letter of support, praising Leal for “his outstanding career achievements and excellence in moving chemical ecology forward." Hammock described him as “a world-renowned chemical ecologist, a pioneer in the field of insect olfaction, and on the cutting edge of research.”
ICSE president Paulo H. G. Zarvin of the Federal University of Parana, Brazil announced the award July 26 at the 28th annual ISCE annual meeting, held in Lithuania. It will be presented at the ISCE’s 29th annual meeting, set Aug. 19-22, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.
Declaring Leal’s program, launched in 1990, as “one of the best in the world,” Schal lauded Leal as “one of the most energetic and collaborative scientists I know.”
“Chemical signaling is fundamental to all life forms, including microbes, plants and animals,” Schal said,” and chemical cues allow animals to appraise their environment; to detect food, toxins, prey, predators and pathogens; to identify kin; and to evaluate and base mate choice decisions of potential reproductive partners.”
“Walter’s research, in two decades, has addressed almost every aspect of chemical ecology,” Schal said. That includes “the semiochemistry of mites, thrips, scarabs, bugs, aphids, cockroaches, moths, wasps and plants.”
Leal, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 2000, has designed and synthesized complex pheromones from many insects, including scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles and the citrus leafminer. He identified the complex sex pheromone system of the naval orangeworm, a key agricultural pest responsible for multi-million crop damage annually in California. The sex pheromones he discovered are now being deployed in the agricultural field to disrupt chemical communication and control the navel orangeworm population through the environmentally friendly technique of mating disruption.
Leal and his lab discovered DEET’s mode of action, something that had puzzled and eluded scientists for half a century. Scientists long surmised that DEET, patented by the U.S. Army in 1946, works by masking the smell of the host, or jamming the insect’s senses, thus interfering with its ability to locate a host. Not so: in groundbreaking research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the Leal lab found that mosquitoes can indeed smell the chemical repellent but they dislike it so they avoid it.
Leal is one of only 23 scientists to receive the ISCE Silver Medal since its inception in 1986. Two other University of California scientists also won the award: Dave Wood of UC Berkeley in 2001 and Ring Cardé of UC Riverside in 2009.
Chemical ecologist Walter Leal. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Call it a case of royalty plus.
UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, has just received a double honor. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and he received a coveted award from his native Brazil.
First the royalty...It's an honor just to be nominated for the Fellow award. Among the imminent scientists who've received the award: Charles Darwin.
The Royal Entomological Society, based in London, disseminates information about insects and strives to improve communication among entomologists at the national and international level. Its history is long and rich. Founded in London in 1833, it is a successor to a number of short-lived societies dating back to 1745.
The origin of the "royalty?" name? In 1885 Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to the society. In the centennial year of 1933, King George V added the word "Royal" to the title.
The other honor? The coveted award, the 2nd National Award of Chemical Ecology, that Leal received in Brazil is linked closely to two people who have influenced him in his academic career and everyday life.
The award memorializes his former mentor, Professor Jose Tercio Barbosa, a pioneer in the field of chemical ecology. As part of the award, Leal received a book on the Museum of Contemporary Art Niteroi signed by internationally known Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.
Niemeyer, now a "young" 104 years old, designed the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City, and many public buildings in Brazil, including the Cathedral of Brasilia, the Museum of Modern Art of Caracas and the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro.
“I grew up hearing about the wonderful work of Oscar Niemeyer, but never even imagined that one day I would get his autograph," Leal said. "It is sad, however, that it happened in part because Professor Tercio, a pioneer in the field of chemical ecology, passed away prematurely. Earlier on, Tercio introduced me to the scientific community in Brazil."
"Niemeyer is one of the two most famous contemporary Brazilians," Leal said. "The other is Pelé whom I've known since my years of working as a radio sportscaster to help fund my college education."
The path from sportscaster to chemical ecologist was a long one. Today Leal focuses his research on how insects detect smells, communicate with their species, detect host and non-host plants, and detect prey. For his innovative approaches to insect olfaction problems, the Entomological Society of America named him the 2011 recipient of Entomological Society of America's Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology.
The circle widens, then narrows, then widens again.
Chemical ecologist Walter Leal in front of a silkworm moth depiction. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's important to have a sense of humor, especially in the academic world when seriousness almost always shades levity.
Take chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who received the Entomological Society of America's Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology this week.
It's an award given to an ESA member who is able to demonstrate, through his/her projects or accomplishments, an ability to identify problems and develop creative, alternative solutions that significantly impact entomology.
Leal, a pioneer in the field of insect communication and on the cutting edge of research, uses innovative approaches to solve insect olfaction problems. Basically, his work examines how insects detect smells, communicate with their species, detect host and non-host plants, and detect prey.
The UC Davis professor has designed and synthesized complex pheromones from many insects, including scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles and the citrus leafminer. He and his lab discovered the secret mode of the insect repellent DEET.
At the ESA awards session, Leal first stepped on stage to receive the Fellow awards of Anthony James of UC Irvine and James R. Carey of UC Davis, who were unable to attend. (Leal also is a Fellow, a prestigious award given annually to only 10 members--or up to 10 members--of the 6000-member society).
Then it was time for the Nan-Yao Su Award presentation.
Leal's third trip to the stage did not go unnoticed. ESA vice president Grayson Brown of the University of Kentucky, quipped: "That's how Walter gets his exercise--by picking up awards."
Yale University professor John Carlson suggested that Leal might be too tired to get the Nan-Yao Su Award Award. "I will go get his," said Carlson, as the audience burst into an uproarious applause.
A dose of humor also touched Leal's name badge. Beneath the lettering, "Dr. Walter S. Leal" and his blue Fellow ribbon, trailed two other ribbons: "Official Something," "Somebody" and "Workaholic."
UC Davis professor Walter Leal (right) receives the Nan-Yao Su Award from ESA President Ernest Delfosse. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Walter Leal's academic humor. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)