BYU alumnus names newly discovered nematode after former professor

Feb 11, 2024, 8:01 PM | Updated: 8:04 pm

Brigham Young University Professor Byron Adams shows off a picture of Steinemema adamsi,a nematode ...

Brigham Young University Professor Byron Adams shows off a picture of Steinemema adamsi,a nematode his former student discovered and named after him (BYU video)

(BYU video)

PROVO — Anyone who has watched “Spongebob Squarepants” may have a negative perception of nematodes, the wormlike creatures that descend on the Krusty Krab or Spongebob’s house and, well, eat them and anything in their sight.

But we all know the classic early-2000s Nickelodeon cartoon isn’t exactly true to life under or above the sea, and it was an honor when a Brigham Young University alumnus discovered a new species of one of the microscopic worms and named it after his professor at Brigham Young University.

Adler Dillman said he didn’t know anything about nematodes until he met biology professor Byron Adams in 2003. Dillman, now chairman of the Department of Nematology at the University of California, Riverside, had the opportunity to describe a new nematode and felt it was fitting to name it after his worm-loving mentor.

“If there’s somebody who loves nematodes more than Byron, I haven’t met them yet,” Dillman said.

Adams was ecstatic to have a new species of nematode become his namesake and said the insect-killing Steinernema adamsi is the “coolest thing ever.”

“You could name it after anything in the world, and you want to name it after me? That’s an incredible honor,” Adams said in a video.

Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that live all over the planet, from the tops of mountains to the bottoms of oceans.

The study of nematodes

Adams first started studying nematodes when he was an undergrad at BYU and has traveled all over, finding them in the desert of North America to cold, dry areas of Antarctica.

“They are the most abundant animal on the planet. I guess I love nematodes so much because they sustain life on our planet,” Adams said.

Steinernema adamsi is part of a group of nematodes that are beneficial to humans because they infect and kill insect pests such as fleas and gnats. Some types of nematodes are even available for purchase as pest control.

The worms crawl inside an insect, defecate highly pathogenic bacteria into its blood and combine with that bacteria to kill the host, explains a press release from BYU.

Dillman discovered the worm during field research in Thailand. While he doesn’t yet know the specific insect it hosts, Dillman believes the discovery can be useful in everyday lives and help biologists learn more about the species.

Adams has mentored more than a hundred students in researching nematodes, and Dillman followed in his footsteps of loving the tiny creatures. Dillman said the mentoring he received from Adams, including a research trip to Antarctica, changed the trajectory of his career.

Adams said Dillman is doing “incredibly challenging” work on the nematode research and he is so proud of him.

“I love seeing my former students on all of these other campuses everywhere else where they can be a force for good in students’ lives,” Adams said.

Dillman said one of the things he is most proud of that Adams taught him is the importance of including students in the work. Now as a professor, Dillman continues that in his own lab.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Westbound I-80 is closed at 5600 West after a wrong-way crash. (Utah Highway Patrol)...

Sam Herrera, KSL NewsRadio

Wrong-way crash closes WB I-80 near Great Saltair

A wrong-way driver hit a truck pulling a horse trailer head-on, closing westbound I-80 for several hours on Monday. The freeway remains closed at 5600 West near the Great Saltair.

2 minutes ago

statue of a woman in front of marble walls...

Lindsay Aerts

Martha Hughes Cannon statue headed to US Capitol

A statue of Martha Hughes Cannon is headed to Washington D.C. to represent Utah

29 minutes ago

Gov. Spencer J. Cox speaks during the Memorial Day commemoration at the Utah Capitol Building in Sa...

Tim Vandenack, KSL.com

‘I love my country’: Veterans, Gov. Cox focus on service, honoring military on Memorial Day

Memorial Day isn't just about picnics, relaxation and sun for John Jackman. Significantly, it brings to mind military comrades who have died while serving the United States.

2 hours ago

A resident of a homeless shelter in Sandy has been jailed on suspicion of murder in the death of a ...

Tim Vandenack, KSL.com

Sandy homeless shelter resident jailed on suspicion of killing roommate

A resident of a homeless shelter in Sandy has been jailed on suspicion of murder in the death of a roommate at the Medically Vulnerable People Program Facility.

7 hours ago

(Karah Brackin, KSL TV)...

Karah Brackin and Josh Ellis, KSL TV

Multiple people in custody after shots fired at South Salt Lake gathering

South Salt Lake police say shots were fired at a large gathering early Monday morning, and multiple people have been taken into custody.

8 hours ago

emergency lights...

Mark Jones

Man taken into custody for alleged assaults at Cathedral of the Madeleine

A 31-year-old man was arrested Sunday after he allegedly began assaulting random people duing Sunday service at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

BYU alumnus names newly discovered nematode after former professor