The Faces of the Champions

If you attended the Entomological Society of America's Entomology Games, aka "Bug Bowl," pitting university teams against one another in the pursuit of entomological knowledge, you saw the faces of the national championship team.

That would be the UC Davis Entomology Games Team, comprised of four doctoral candidates from the Department of Entomology and Nematology:  Zachary Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab, captain;  Jill Oberski of the Ward laboratory; Erin “Taylor” Kelly of the Geoffrey Attardo lab; and  Madison “Madi” Hendrick of the Ian Grettenberger lab.

You will probably never see the quartet on the box of your favorite cereal but they are champions just the same. Really good champions. In fact, this is the fourth national championship that UC Davis has won since 2015.

They edged out Alabama's Auburn University's team of Dan Aurell, Chelsia Smith and Dylan Brown, 75 to 70, to win the national championship, waged Nov. 15 at the ESA meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was a joint meeting with the Entomological Society of Canada and the Entomological Society of British Columbia.

What are the Entomology Games? They're a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams. The question categories are biological control, behavior and ecology, economic and applied entomology, medical, urban and veterinary entomology, morphology and physiology, biochemistry and toxicology, systematics and evolution integrated pest management and insect/plant interactions.

Example? Question: The principal blood sugar of insects is a disaccharide called what? Answer: Trehalose.

The celebrated student-quiz event, launched in 1982, was formerly known as the Linnaean Games. Students compete first at an ESA branch level, with each branch sponsoring the winning team and the runner-up at the nationals. UC Davis won the championship at the Pacific Branch meeting in April. 

The Entomology Games championship match video will be posted soon on ESA's YouTube channel. The full bank of questions will be loaded on this site. The previous UC Davis championships: 

  • 2018The University of California team (UC Davis/UC Berkeley) defeated Texas A&M. Members of the UC Team: captain Ralph Washington Jr., then a UC Berkeley graduate student with a bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Davis; doctoral students Brendon Boudinot, Jill Oberski and Zachary Griebenow of the Phil Ward lab, and doctoral student Emily Bick of the Christian Nansen lab. (Listen to the audio--no video available--on YouTube)
  • 2016: UC Davis defeated the University of Georgia. Members of the UC Davis team: captain Ralph Washington Jr., Brendon Boudinot and Emily Bick. (Watch the video on YouTube)
  • 2015: UC Davis defeated the University of Florida. Members of the UC Davis team: captain Ralph Washington Jr., and members Brendon Boudinot, Jessica Gillung and Ziad Khouri. (Watch the video on YouTube)

Now ESA is sponsoring the 2022 Virtual Entomology Games. Those games began Nov. 28 through the WikiQuiz system.

What's the name of the principal blood sugar of insects again?