Stacey Rice's Stag Beetle T-Shirt Wins UC Davis Contest

Nov 7, 2016

Stacey Rice's Stag Beetle T-Shirt Wins UC Davis Contest

Nov 7, 2016

Ever seen a stag beetle? You know, that curious-looking male beetle with mandibles that resemble deer antlers?

Now you can not only see a stag beetle, you can wear one.  In fact, four of them. 

Entomologist Stacey Lee Rice won the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Students Association's annual t-shirt design contest with her artistic  stag beetle t-shirt that's already a conversation starter. The shirt is available for sale at

Rice, a junior specialist in the lab of Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, says the harmony between nature and insects inspires her art. 

The stag beetle t-shirt design not only incorporates her love for stag beetles (family Lucanidae) but illustrates the “geometric patterns that are hidden in the deciduous forests they dwell in,” said Rice, who as a scientist and artist, enjoys fusing science with art.

She loves the complexity and beauty of insects. "I'm captivated by insects' structural biology, ability to evolve over time and the intricate ways in which they communicate,” she said.

A repeat winner, Rice also won the EGSA's 2015 t-shirt contest with her depiction of a wasp riding a penny-farthing or high-wheel bicycle. Both t-shirts, along with scores of other winning t-shirts, are available for sale on the EGA website,

Her research in the Godfrey lab, in collaboration with Ian Grettenberger, postdoctoral research associate, involves investigating the biology and behavioral ecology of the bagrada bug, Bagrada hilaris, an invasive species from Africa. The now widespread stink bug attacks cole crops, including broccoli, cabbage, collards, arugula, cauliflower, kale, and mustard.

“Dr. Grettenberger has taught me how to manage time and stay organized in order to execute an effective research plan,” Rice said, “and I am inspired by his enthusiasm to solve problems.”

 “With the support of Dr. Larry Godfrey (Extension entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology), I have been motivated to pursue my Ph.D," Rice said. "I'm grateful for his commitment to fostering my intellectual growth, and dedication to mentoring a young woman scientist in a field where women are frequently underrepresented.”

A native of Roseville, Rice received her bachelor's degree in biological sciences with a minor in medical-veterinary entomology in March 2015. Her career goal, to become a professional research entomologist, stems from her childhood interest in the biological sciences.

“I'm particularly interested in integrated pest management practices that could have real world impact,” Rice said. “By understanding the biology and behaviors of pest insects, as well as their interaction with other organisms, the reliance on heavy pesticide use in agriculture may become minimized and more targeted. “

Rice hopes to enroll in graduate school in autumn 2017. Meanwhile, she continues to share her fascination for insects with friends, family and the Davis community.

For several years, Rice was active in the UC Davis Entomology Club, advised by forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty. “I consider Bob Kimsey as my mentor and friend," she said. "Along with the various projects of the entomology club, he has instilled in me a deep curiosity of the natural world and a strong desire to give back to the community as an entomologist.”

Rice's award-winning t-shirt first went on sale at the Entomological Society of America/International Congress of Entomology meeting, held in early November in Orlando, Fla.

EGSA treasurer Cindy Preto of the Frank Zalom lab is coordinating the t-shirt sales. The themes include honey bees,  beetles, a wasp, a moth, weevils (“See No Weevil, Hear No Weevil and Speak No Weevil")  and “Entomology's Most Wanted” (malaria mosquito, red-imported fire ant, bed bug and house fly). One of the best sellers is “The Beetles,” mimicking The Beatles' album cover, “Abbey Road.”  All proceeds benefit EGSA.