Faculty members accepting undergraduate researchers
Diana Cox-Foster, Professor, Entomology
Dr. Cox-Foster’s focus is on understanding the mechanisms underlying host/pathogen interactions in honey bees and other pollinators. Her research utilizes a systems biology approach, examining the interactions at multiple levels including the molecular processes in the pollinator, the genomics of the pathogens, impacts on cellular physiology and immunity, and overall impacts on ecological interactions. Her work focuses primarily on honey bees and with extensions of the findings into other pollinator species. Her expertise includes the viral pathogens that infect bees and other pollinators and the impacts of varroa mites. She is also collaborating in projects to transition her research into application to remediate problems in honey bees and other pollinators, with emphasis on controlling viral disease via the mites and development of disease resistant bee strains. She has led the efforts to look for new pathogens in bees suffering from CCD and was selected as co-chair of the Colony Collapse Working Group.
Shelby Fleischer, Professor, Entomology
Dr. Fleischer is an applied insect ecologist. His research helps define the structure and dynamics of insect populations and communities in agroecosystems, and he uses this information to advance IPM. Projects often emphasize communities of beneficials: examples include conservation biocontrol in peppers, sweet corn, and cucurbits, and how farming systems and landscapes influenced community dynamics of a diverse (>100 species) assemblege of epigeal species critical for biocontrol and nutrient cycling. He is applying those community ecology techniques across landscapes to advance conservation of pollinator communities in vegetable agroecosystems that rely on insect pollination of cucurbit crops.
Christina Grozinger, Professor, Entomology
Grozinger's research program consists of two main areas of study, which examine the mechanisms underlying social behavior and health in honey bees and related species. Her studies on social behavior seek to elucidate the mechanisms that regulate behavioral variation and plasticity in insect societies. Her studies on honey bee and bumble bee health examine how stressors impact the individual and colony, and how responses to these stressors can be modulated by social and environmental contexts. Possible research projects for 2015 include studies of mating behavior in honey bees, overwintering behavior in honey bees, responses of honey bees to parasites and pathogens, the role of nutrition in regulating foraging in bumble bees, and mechanisms regulating social behavior (including aggression) in honey bees and bumble bees.
Heather Hines, Assistant Professor, Biology and Entomology
Dr. Hines’ research spans the fields of systematics, evolution and development, and evolutionary and ecological genomics. Her research program currently focuses on the genetics underlying mimetic color pattern variation in both butterflies and bumble bees. Dr. Hines’ research also involves projects in Hymenoptera phylogenomics, bumble bee systematics and biogeography, Heliconius butterfly phylogeography, insect social evolution, and pollinator conservation.
Chris Mullin, Professor, Entomology
Dr. Mullin studies pesticide toxicology as it relates to honey bee and pollinator health. He looks for evidence that pesticides and other toxic substances in bees, pollen and hive products may be linked to CCD. He develops and evaluates analytical methodology that monitors pesticides and their metabolites. His focus is on mechanistic interactions of modern systemic and seed-treatment pesticides used in transgenic technologies, and their risks to food security and non-target species. Practical outcomes include developing both selective pest control strategies and regulatory processes that assure safety for pollinators and products from the hive.
Nancy Ostiguy, Associate Professor, Entomology
Dr. Ostiguy’s lab is investigating the contribution of various stresses, such as varroa mites and miticides (used to control varroa mites), on Colony Collapse Disorder and other honey bee diseases. The impact of viruses and miticides on the survivorship of eggs, larvae, pupae and the longevity of newly emerged bees are being explored. The epidemiology (spatial and temporal distribution) of viral diseases and general colony health and survivorship are being investigated with researchers from six other universities in the United States. Models to predict varroa mite populations (and potential virus infection) as influenced by size of apiary and ambient conditions are being constructed and tested. Work is underway to evaluate varroa control tactics that do not expose bees to miticides yet reduce mite populations.
Jason L Rasgon, Associate Professor of Entomology
The Rasgon Laboratory recently moved to Penn State University from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Our lab integrates population biology, ecology, molecular tools and theory to address fundamental and applied questions related to vector arthropods and the pathogens they transmit, with emphasis on release of genetically-modified mosquitoes for disease control, pathogen transmission dynamics and bioterrorism issues.
Heather Toomey Zimmerman, Associate Professor, ED (LDT)
Dr. Zimmerman and her research group use ethnographic and design-based research methods to study youth and families within out-of-school contexts and across multiple settings. Zimmerman partners with schools, nature centers, and museums to understand the development of interests, knowledge, and expertise related to science. With colleague Dr. Susan Land, the team is exploring the role of mobile learning devices in supporting families’ and school children’s understandings of ecological systems, including pollinator-plant interactions.