Essig Brunch Seminar Series

The Entomology Students Organization and the Essig Museum of Entomology co-host a weekly seminar series, known as Essig brunch. Essig Brunch attracts attendance from graduate students, faculty, post-docs, undergraduates, and staff from multiple departments on campus including our home department (ESPM), Integrative Biology, and Plant and Microbial Biology. The talks are diverse in nature, but all focus on the connecting theme of insect and arachnid science. Essig Brunch routinely hosts guest speakers from neighboring institutions such as Stanford, UC Davis, and UC San Francisco. ESO students often give their finishing talks at Essig Brunch, while faculty use the seminar to update the campus community on the new and exciting insect research happening at Berkeley.

Join us for Essig Brunch on Fridays at 10:00 am in VLSB 1101. Breakfast is on us!

Fall 2017

September 1, 2017

Speaker: Sean Perez, PhD student, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
Title: The Life of a Field Technician

September 8, 2017

Coffee Social

September 15, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Rodrigo Almeida, Professor, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
Title: Xylella fastidiosa outbreaks in Europe: a tale of fake news, alternative facts, and plant disease

September 22, 2017

Speaker: Brian Whyte, PhD student, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
Title: Comparative social evolution of Ants, trematodes, and a surprising amount of other things

September 29, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Marianna Karageorgi, Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley IB Dept.
Olfactory specialization contributes in the making of the fruit pest Drosophila suzukii

October 6, 2017

Speaker: Ignacio Escalante, PhD student, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
Title: Life after leg loss: locomotion, ecology and sexual behavior of daddy long-legs

October 13, 2017

Speaker: Lewis Bartlett, PhD student, University of Exeter
Title: Honeybees and disease – lessons for both apiculture and epidemiology

October 20, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Noriyuki Suzuki, Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
Title: Identifying invasive species from native Hawaiian arthropod community using metabarcoding data

October 27, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Tyler Schartel, Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Riverside
Title: Understanding the niches of invasive consumers

November 3, 2016

Speaker: Lisa Treidel, PhD student, UC Berkeley IB Dept.
Title: Phenotypic plasticity in insects: integrating tradeoffs and the environment

November 10, 2017

Academic and Administrative Holiday

November 17, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Marie-Claire Chelini, Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Merced
Title: Disentangling proximate and evolutionary drivers of sexual size dimorphism

November 24, 2016


December 1, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Henrik Krehenwinkel, Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
Title: TBA

December 8, 2017

Speaker: TBA
Title: TBA

December 15, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Darko Cortoras, Postdoctoral Researcher, California Academy of Sciences/UC Santa Cruz
Title: Improvement and application of ancient DNA methods to study spider radiations on Pacific islands


Spring 2017

January 13, 2017

Coffee social

January 20, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Carolina Reisenman, Associate Researcher, UC Berkeley MCB Dept.
Kissing bugs and risk of Chagas Disease transmission in southwestern USA, and tools for monitoring and control

January 27, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Daniel Thompson, Associate Professor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Endemic butterflies of the Spring Mountains, Nevada: habitat selection, phylogeography, and responses to the 2013 Carpenter 1 fire

February 3, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Javier Ceja Navarro, Project Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Lab
Arthropod-microbiome interactions and their role in the host’s environmental adaptation

February 10, 2017

Speaker: Prof. Fang Ouyang, Visiting Professor, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
Population dynamics of an insect (Cotton Bollworm: Helicoverpa armigera), their driving factors and management strategy in a biologically-diversified landscape ecosystem

February 17, 2017

Speaker: Aaron Pomerantz, PhD student, UC Berkeley Integrative Biology Dept.
Accidental amalgamation – science communication, field entomology, and ecotourism

February 24, 2017

Speaker: Philipp Brand, PhD student, UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology
Evolution of chemical communication systems in orchid bees

March 3, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Josh Gibson, Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
Aggression and metabolism in hybrid honey bees

March 10, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Tue Jorgensen, Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley Integrative Biology Dept.
Understanding the calanoid copepod Acartia tonsa: genome, transcriptome and embryological observations

March 17, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Elizabeth Cash, Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
The evolution of nestmate recognition and the ontogeny of territoriality in ants

March 24, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Durrell Kapan, Senior Research Fellow, Entomolgy/CCG, California Academy of Sciences
Islands of invasion: ecological history of mosquitoes in Hawaiʻi

March 31, 2017

Spring Break

April 7, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Elina Niño, Cooperative Extension Apiculture Specialist, UC Davis
Understanding individual and colony-level stressors and developing solutions for honey bee health and beekeepers

April 14, 2017

Speaker: Tim O’Connor, PhD Student, UC Berkeley Integrative Biology Dept.
Polyploid speciation in plants: consequences for biogeography and diversification of herbivorous insects

April 21, 2017

Speaker: Rachel Thayer, PhD Student, UC Berkeley Integrative Biology Dept.
Genetic and evolutionary bases for thin film structural coloration in the Buckeye butterfly

April 28, 2017

Speaker: Natalie Stauffer-Olsen, PhD Student, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
Finishing Talk: Spatial and temporal variability in benthic invertebrate assemblages and genetics in a lake and stream system

May 5, 2017

Speaker: Maddie Girard, PhD Student, UC Berkeley ESPM Dept.
Finishing Talk: Sexual selection and signal evolution in peacock spiders (genus: Maratus)

Fall 2016

August 26, 2016

Coffee social

September 2, 2016

Speaker: Dr. Katharina Ullmann, Crop Pollination Specialist, Xerces Society
Title: Working with researchers and stakeholders to support invertebrate conservation

September 9, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Noah Whiteman, UC Berkeley IB Dept.
Title: Adaptive evolution of an ancient detoxification pathway in an herbivorous insect

September 16, 2016

Speaker: Dr. Jan Buellesbach, UC Berkeley
Title: Sex pheromone variation and speciation – from phenotypic to genetic architecture

September 23, 2016

Speaker: Dr. Adam Zeilinger, UC Berkeley
Title: Using museum specimen occupancy data to understand and predict insect pest outbreaks in California

September 30, 2016

Cancelled for International Congress of Entomology

October 7, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Krushnamegh Kunte, National Centre for Biological Sciences, India
Title: Evolutionary assembly and ecological dynamics of butterfly mimicry rings

Abstract: The hallmark of life on earth is morphological diversity, which is represented in the spectacular sexually dimorphic and polymorphic wing patterns of butterflies. I will address the evolutionary patterns and ecological processes that govern diversification in well-defined mimetic communities called mimicry rings. I will show how phylogenetic conservatism and convergence shape the evolutionary dynamics of mimicry rings. I will elucidate the role that island biogeographic processes play in the diversity and composition of mimicry rings. Finally, I will present a simple model that explains how sexual selection and frequency-dependent predation influence diversification of mimicry types, especially in sex-limited and polymorphic forms.
I will spend the last 10 minutes talking about the biodiversity museum and research collections that we are developing at NCBS, which will facilitate biodiversity-related research in India.

October 14, 2016

Speaker: Dr. Aman Gill, UC Berkeley
Title: The evolution of chemical defense in ground beetles: genetic basis, biosynthetic pathways and molecular evolution of carabid quinone production

October 21, 2016

Speaker: Dr. Sarah Crews, California Academy of Sciences
Title: Flattie spiders (Selenopidae): from biogeography to biomechanics

October 28, 2016

Speaker: Dr. Malcolm Rosenthal, UC Berkeley
Title: Mating in a variable world: the implications of environmental variation for male and female mating behavior in a wolf spider

November 4, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Zachary Stahlschmidt, University of the Pacific
Title: Phenotypic plasticity in insects: integrating tradeoffs and the environment

November 11, 2016

Veteran’s Day

November 18, 2016

Speaker: Dr. Nick Keiser, Rice Academy, Houston, TX
Title: Group composition begets conflicting dynamics of collective behavior and bacterial transmission in social spiders

November 25, 2016


December 2, 2016

Speaker: Allan Cabrero, UC Berkeley
Title: Lush forests and dark caves: Systematics of a harvestman subfamily and landscape genomics of a cave obligate species

December 9, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Francis Ratnieks, University of Sussex
Title: How can we help bees via research? The Sussex plan for honey bee health and well being

Spring 2016

January 15, 2016

Speaker: Dr. Samia Elfekih, CSIRO
Title: Genome-wide SNPs decipher global invasion pathways in the sweetpotato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) species complex

January 22, 2016

Coffee Social

January 29, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Miquel Arnedo, University of Barcelona
Title: Hidden doors, remote worlds: Spiders as model organisms in biodiversity research

February 5, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Darko Voncina, UC Berkeley
Title: Grapevine viruses in Croatia: past, present and future

February 19, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Gabriele Uhl, Universität Greifswald
Title: Securing paternity in spiders: plugging and mutilating

February 26, 2016

Coffee Social

March 4, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Paul Opler, Colorado State University
Title: Oaks as evolutionary islands for leaf-mining insects

March 11, 2016

Speaker: Dr. Rebecca Clark, UC Berkeley
Title: Nutrient regulation in solitary and social insects

March 18, 2016

Speaker: Lisa Hunt, UC Berkeley
Title: Finishing talk: Effects of insecticides on freshwater invertebrate communities of small streams in soy production regions of South America

April 1, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Nathan Rank, Sonoma State University
Title: Mito-nuclear interactions influence thermal tolerance along altitudinal gradients in a montane leaf beetle

April 8, 2016

Speaker: Lauren Ponisio, UC Berkeley
Title: The assembly of plant-pollinator communities

April 15, 2016

Speaker: Natalie Stauffer, UC Berkeley
Title: Temporal patterns in aquatic insect population structure: a case study of Baetis tricaudatus populations

April 22, 2016

Speaker: Kevin Roberts, UC Berkeley
Title: Metabolic variation and seasonal adaptation in a montane insect

April 29, 2016

Speaker:  Prof. Paul Fine, UC Berkeley
Title: Coevolutionary chemical arms races in a world of generalist insect herbivores

May 6, 2016

Coffee Social

May 13, 2016

Speaker: Prof. Julien Petillon, Universite de Rennes
Ecology, evolution, and the diversity of wolf spiders (Araneae, Lycosidae)


Fall 2015

September 4, 2015

Speaker: Dr. Tina Mendez, Lecturer, UC Berkeley
Title: Digitizing Trichoptera

September 11th, 2015

Speaker: Dr. Carolina Reisenman, MCB Associate Researcher, UC Berkeley
Title:  Neuroethology of insect olfaction: From chemical signals, to neurons, to behavior

September 18th, 2015

Speaker: Dr. Virginia Bolshakova, County Director/Elkus Ranch Director/Advisor, UCANR (UC Extension)
Title: Natural enemy diversity: from landscapes to gardens to youth

September 25th, 2015

Coffee Social

October 2, 2015

Speaker: Kevi Mace, ESPM Ph.D. student, UC Berkeley
Title: A bug eat bug world: Biological control from commercial orchards to private gardens

October 9, 2015

Speaker: Dr. Peter Oboyski, Collections Manager/Senior Museum Scientist, Essig Museum, UC Berkeley
Title: Expedition 2015 to French Polynesia – moths and mountain tops

October 16, 2015

Speaker: Dr. Henrik Krehenwinkel, ESPM Post-Doctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley
Title: An ecological and genomic analysis of the recent range expansion of the wasp spider Argiope bruennichi: Consequences of climate change

October 23, 2015

Speaker: Alexander Dedmon, Entomology Ph.D. student, UC Davis
Title: Seasonal effects on insect succession in pig carrion in Northern California

October 30, 2015

Speaker: Dr. Kerry Padgett, Supervising Public Health Biologist, California Department of Public Health
Title: Surveillance and control of zoonotic diseases in California: Applied medical entomology in public health

November 6, 2015

Speaker: Dr. Lauren Esposito, Curator of Arachnology, California Academy of Sciences
Title: Why doing only science just isn’t enough: lessons from arachnids

November 13, 2015

Speaker: Brice McPherson
Title: Sudden oak death and coast live oaks: Insects, fungi, and prospects for our forests

November 20, 2015

Coffee Social

December 4, 2015

Speaker: Ralph Washington, Jr., Entomology Ph.D. student, UC Davis
Title: Curious culicidology: The surprising diversity of mosquitoes

December 11, 2015

Speaker: Dr. Rollin Coville, Professional Insect and Spider Photographer
Title: Photographing arthropods in the field


Fall 2014

September 5th, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Caroline Williams, IB Faculty Member, UC Berkeley
Title: Evolution of intermediary metabolism in cold-adapted Drosophila melanogaster

September 12th, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Peter T Oboyski, Collections Manager & Senior Museum Scientist, Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley
Title:  Essig: Days of Future Past

September 19th, 2014

Speaker: Camila Vieira, Visiting Scholar from University of Campinas, Brazil
Title: Fluorescence evolution, crypsis, and behavior in crab spiders

September 26th, 2014

Speaker: Tory Hendry, Postdoc, Mills Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Effects of a plant pathogen on insects and varied insect responses

October 3rd, 2014   ***This event will be held in 5053 VLSB.***

Speaker: Hiromi Uno, PhD student, Power Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Mayfly migration in river networks that help sustain juvenile salmonids in warming rivers

October 10th, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Mike Sheehan, Postdoc, Nachman Lab, UC Berkeley
Title:  Ecology causes and the phenotypic and genomic consequences of social behavior: Insights from wasps, mice and humans

October 17th, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Victor Ortega, Postdoc, Dudley Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Electrostatic sight over the insect world

October 24th, 2014

Speaker: Andy Rominger, Ph.D. student, Gillespie Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Making and breaking ecological theory with Hawaiian arthropods

October 31st, 2014

Speaker: Ignacio Escalante, Ph.D. student, Elias Lab
Title: Plasticity in in predatory behavior of spiders: from wrapping to spitting

November 7th, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Amber Sciligo, Postdoc, Kremen Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Diversified farming effects on pollinators and pest control

November 21st, 2014

Speaker: Jeremy Andersen, PhD student, Mills Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Population genetics and biological control: host range, hybridization, and the geographic mosaic of coevolution

December 5th, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Lina Almeida, Schlinger Chair of Arachnology Postdoc, California Academy of Sciences
Title:  A new spider family or just my imagination? Evolution of Macrobunidae in the Southern Hemisphere

December 12th, 2014

Speaker: Lisa Fernandez, Ph.D. Candidate, Mills Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Finishing Talk

Spring 2014

January 24th, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Lincoln Smith, US Department of Agriculture
Title: Current research on biological control of weeds in California

January 31st, 2014

Speaker: Prof. John Harte, ESPM Dept., UC Berkeley
Title: How many arthropod species at the biome scale?

February 7th, 2014

Speaker: Prof. Damian Elias, ESPM Dept., UC Berkeley
Title: Evolution of signal complexity in jumping spiders

February 14th, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Michael Bogan, Postdoc, Carlson Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Rise up, Lazarus: ecology and life history of the Arizona Snowfly, an intermittent stream specialist

February 21st, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Daniel Karp, Postdoc, Kremen Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Harmonizing agricultural production and conservation across tropical countryside

March 7th, 2014

Speaker: Natalia Chousou-Polydouri, PhD student, Gillespie Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Finishing talk: From spiders to languages: a phylogenetic journey

March 14th, 2014

Speaker: Matthew Van Dam, PhD student, Will Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Finishing talk: What a difference a day makes: incorporating natural history into climate niche modeling

April 4th, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Kai Blaisdel, Postdoc, Almeida Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Relative influences of vector and host on virus transmission

April 11th, 2014

Speaker: Prof. Neil Tsutsui, ESPM Dept., UC Berkeley
Title: Using chemical ecology and genomics to illuminate the social behavior of an invasive ant

April 18th, 2014

Speaker: Tara Madsen-Steigmeyer, PhD student, Tsutsui Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Finishing talk: Insect ecology from the scale of plant-level interactions to continent wide phylogeography: Colorado potato beetle and a tale of reinvention

April 25th, 2014

Speaker: Joan Ball-Damerow, PhD student, Resh Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Finishing talk: Diversity and distribution of California dragonflies and other aquatic taxa over the past century


Fall 2013

September 6th, 2013

Speaker: Dr. Peter T Oboyski, Collections Manager & Senior Museum Scientist, Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley
Title:  California arthropod diversity online: The Essig DB & your data

The Essig Museum is one of the largest and most active university-based insect and spider collections in the country. The 120 years’ worth of specimen collections represent the cumulative effort of some of the most notable entomologist and standards-setting programs of the last century. While our species list has been online for many years, efforts are underway to database and georeference the individual specimens in our collection (plus seven other California collections). Our online database system is available for all UC and affiliated researchers to store, manage, and map their collections. Functions include: data entry webforms, label printing, on-the-fly mapping of georeferenced specimens, species name management, and advanced/complex data searches. Come learn how to manage your data online with the Essig.

September 13th, 2013

Speaker: Dr. Asaf Sadeh, Post-doctoral Fellow, UC Davis Department of Entomology
Title: Cannibalism, disease spread and contagious cannibalism

September 27th, 2013

Speaker: Dr. Michael Brewer, Post-doctoral Fellow, Gillespie Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Higher-level systematics of the millipedes (Arthropoda: Myriapoda: Diplopoda) evaluated using transcriptomic data, mitochondrial genomics, and classification analyses

October 18th, 2013

Speaker: Dr. Facundo Labarque, Post-doctoral Fellow, California Academy of Sciences
Title: Pretarsus: A storytelling on the evolution of the last segment of a spider’s leg

October 26th, 2013

Speaker: Dr. Daniele Polotow, Post-doctoral Fellow, California Academy of Sciences
Topic: Spider phylogenetics

November 1st, 2013

Speaker: Yu Zeng, PhD student, Dudley Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Wing evolution and flight biomechanics in stick insects

Speaker: Kevi Mace, PhD student, Mills Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Natural enemy evenness and aphid densities in walnut orchards: Improving biological control

November 8th, 2013

Speaker: Stephen Bayes, PhD student, Welter Lab and Mills Lab, UC Berkeley
Title: Movement ecology of an agricultural pest, navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella)

November 15th, 2013

Speaker: Audrey Ndaba, Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, South Africa
Title: A glance at the South African scorpion fauna

Audrey is a visiting researcher from the Ditsong NMNH (formerly the Transvaal Museum) where she studies scorpion biology and taxonomy. She will give a brief history of the Ditsong Museum and discuss her work with scorpions. Her introduction to fieldwork and interest in scorpions began while working at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum (formerly the Natal Museum) where she first met Charles Griswold, who invited her to her current visit at the California Academy of Sciences.

November 22nd, 2013

Speaker: Bernardo Santos, American Museum of Natural History, Recipient of Essig’s Visiting Taxonomist Grant
Title: Phylogeny, morphological evolution, and global patterns of diversification in ichneumonid wasps

Bernardo will address two of the most enigmatic aspects of the evolution and diversification of an extremely diverse animal lineage – ichneumonid wasps. One of them is the incredibly high level of morphological homoplasy found in this family; specifically, the study of convergent adaptations in the subfamily Cryptinae from a phylogenetic framework. The other one is their puzzling global pattern of diversity, with seemingly less species in tropical areas than in temperate ones. He will show how studies on ecology, phylogenetics, and molecular taxonomy can help elucidate this apparently anomalous trend.

December 6th, 2013

Speaker: Prof. Patrick O’Grady, ESPM Dept., UC Berkeley
Title: Hawaiian insects, plants and microbes: Species interactions and adaptive radiation

Stayed tuned for more seminar updates!

If you are interested in presenting your insect-related research at Essig Brunch this Fall 2013 or Spring 2014, please contact Chrissy Rivera (crivera AT berkeley DOT edu) or Erin Brandt (eebrandt AT berkeley DOT edu). Reimbursements may be available for local travel within the Bay Area. 

Event is ADA accessible. For disability accommodation requests and information, please contact Disability Access Services by phone at 510.643.6456 (voice) or 510.642.6376 (TTY) or by email at