My research interests and experiences largely fit them all into two categories: feeding pollinators and feeding people, with many projects spanning both. Most of my work has taken place in the field, but I am expanding my experience with lab-based studies, especially for understanding how pollinators feed in different environmental conditions. Other recurring themes in my research include studying how pollinators are impacted by global change, foraging behavior (from both pollinator and plant perspectives), and natural history.
Benchtop bumble bee foraging arena capturing videos with a Rasphberry pi computer to investigate the effects of temperatures on learning while foraging.
I continue to be interested in plant-pollinator interactions as this information is key to understanding and conserving pollinators. To investigate plant-pollinator interactions, I’ve collaborated with citizen scientists, employed autonomous pollinator monitoring tools, and performed countless human observations. Recently, I have been studying two aspects of global change: carbon dioxide and how it may impact pollen nutrition, and temperature impacts on bumble bee learning while foraging.
I am broadly interested in agricultural pollination and how an improved understanding of agricultural pollinators and their biology can increase agricultural sustainability and help in pollinator conservation – feeding pollinators while feeding people. I employed behavioral, efficacy, and functional diversity methods to study how apple pollination in Australia may change in response to the arrival of Varroa mites, whether stingless bees are useful cucurbit pollinators in Australia, and have used autonomous pollinator sampling devices and expanded my skills with low-cost electronics to monitor cranberry pollinators in Wisconsin.
A stingless bee (Tetragonula carbonaria) visits an apple flower.
Left: the inside of an allodapine bee nest; Top right: the nest entrance in a tree fern frond; Bottom right: a pupating female bee (Exoneura angophorae)
Natural history note: I strive to weave an increased understanding of plant and pollinator natural history throughout my research. My biggest natural history undertaking so far was chronicling a year in the life of a Blue Mountains allodapine bee, a facultatively social species. Though, plant-pollinator interactions and foraging behavior are in a way also natural history data as they provide more information on species biology. Similarly, my first research project investigated how a fungicide commonly applied in many agroecosystems impacts bumble bee health.
For more information about any project mentioned above, please see my CV, or contact me directly, I'd love to hear from you.