Post-doctoral Research Projects

Washington State University and Tufts University

Projects being written up for publication and/or data collection is on-going. 

Who protects Puget blues?

Who protects Puget blues?

When Puget blue butterflies are caterpillars, they are tended by ants. I am investigating the natural history of this relationship. Once we understand the natural history, I will run experiments to determine how ants affect caterpillar survival and how a shift in timing of caterpillar activity, due to climate change, may affect this relationship.

Does burning affect ant diversity?

Does burning affect ant diversity?

In many cases, prescribed burns are important for ecosystem health. And so are ants! Using pitfall traps, I am studying how burning affects ant diversity in a temperate, short grass prairie.

What do Puget blues like to eat?

What do Puget blues like to eat?

Butterflies get most of their nutrients from nectar. Due to the changing climate, the overlap of butterflies and their food sources may become mismatched. I am working with an undergraduate to investigate which flowers are important nectar sources for the threatened Puget blue butterfly, and their nutritional value. We will compare current overlap of butterflies and nectar flowers to historical overlap.

How does burning affect host plants?

How does burning affect host plants?

Puget blue butterflies are particular. They only lay eggs on sickle-keeled lupine. I am examining if burning, which eliminates lot of competition for the plant, affects growth of this important host plant.

Ph.D. Research: Nutritional ecology 

Does diet diversity affect behavior?

Does diet diversity affect behavior?

Pollen is the main source of amino acids, which make up protein, for many insect pollinators. If honey bees are raised on a diet lacking certain amino acids, will they try to compensate by foraging for more pollen?

Does diet diversity affect health?

Does diet diversity affect health?

We know that a more diverse diet leads to stronger baseline immunity in honey bees. But how might diet diversity affect the immune response once a honey bee has been challenged? To answer this, I am raising honey bees on different diets at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (check out the awesome 360 video below!). Then, I will challenge the bees with a common pathogen to see how diet diversity might lead to a more robust immune response.

Does diet diversity affect foraging?

Does diet diversity affect foraging?

If honey bees are raised without certain nutrients, will they forage for more diverse floral sources to compensate? We are using genetic techniques and microscopy (pollen grains at 400x above) to find out!

Why do honey bees like dirty water?

Why do honey bees like dirty water?

Beekeepers have noticed that even when given a clean water source, honey bees often prefer to drink from dirty water sources. My research shows that honey bees likely use dirty water as a way to supplement minerals that their floral diet may lack.

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Lab Pledge

In my lab, we believe: science is real, love is love, black lives matter, feminism is for everyone, insect pollinators are cool, immigrants are welcome.

Sign modified from template provided by Sammy Kata here.

Tufts University