Mentoring, and Delta Science Fellows Early Career Leadership Workshop April 25-27

Woooooshhhh… that’s what the past two weeks have felt like!


The end of April was filled with presentations, meetings, field trips, manuscript revisions,  free food (I love free food…) and lots of mentoring.

The action started on April 23rd, as I proudly watched my undergraduate student, Vincent Spadone, present his undergraduate thesis work on ‘Interactions of the Biological Control Agents on the Invasive Water Hyacinth”.

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My undergraduate student-Vincent Spadone- presenting his thesis research on the ‘Interactions of the Biological Control Agents on the Invasive Water Hyacinth’

Vince, a senior and Environmental Science Major at UC Berkeley, has been helping me with some of my research since the Summer of 2016. I have also been mentoring him on his senior thesis project exploring the inter-and intraspecific species interactions among the weevil, Neochetina bruchi, and the plant hopper, Megamelus scutellaris. These two herbivores have both been released in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the associated Tributaries for control of water hyacinth. Thus it was in Vince and my interests to explore the potential interactions between these two species and whether these interactions hinder or benefit the biological control of water hyacinth.

So far the results of his laboratory experiments are preliminary but it appears that the planthopper avoids contact with the weevil, and potentially has lower survivorship in the presence of the weevil. However, when both species are present- they appear to cause more damage on water hyacinth compared to when these species are on separate plants. However, more replication is needed to reach more accurate conclusions.


The next day on April 24th, I zipped to UC Davis to present my research to the lab (Ted Grosholz’s lab at UC Davis). Then,  I loaded up with research supplies from the UC storeroom and headed to Sacramento to get ready for the Delta Science Fellows Early Career Leadership Workshop (April 25-27). I had been looking forward to this workshop for quite some time now and I even had to purchase my first business suit ever to properly present my work to the Delta Stewardship Council on April 27th.

Below is my business outfit I finally settled on, and one that actually fit my muscular shoulders (thank you gymnastics and aerial arts for making shopping difficult).

Julie Hopper, ready for Business!
Ready to present my work!

We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Sacramento, so I had some time before the Welcome Dinner to run around the riverfront. I was shocked to see how high the water level was, even after all of the flooding we received. See for yourselves below!!

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The Flooded Sacramento River Front

After arriving, the two days zipped by, starting with a welcome dinner where the 2016 Delta Science Fellows and mentors got to meet the 2017 Fellows and their mentors. Then the next day was packed with presentations on the Delta, and lots of science communication and career advice. We also practiced our elevator pitches for presenting to the Delta Stewardship Council, and I think we did pretty well! You can see the video of us presenting below. I’m speaking at 24:09 (I was pretty nervous!): Delta Stewardship Council Presentations.

After, we were rewarded by a guided field trip to Putah Creek by Dr. Peter Moyle. Here are some pictures from our trip, including a group photo of the 2016 and 2017 fellows. Of course the trip was also accompanied by really good sandwich wraps and cookies!

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