We study the ecological and physiological mechanisms that enable organisms to respond to their environment. We focus primarily on the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Honey bees are a fantastic system for understanding these mechanisms and for applying what is learned.
Honey bees are experiencing a period of rapid decline. Multiple stressors are to blame, including poor nutrition, pathogens/parasites, and pesticides. While some of those stressors are difficult to control, others - like nutrition - can be addressed through improved supplementation and better access to natural forage. Further, we hypothesize that improved nutrition might increase resistance to other (non-nutritional) stressors. Our research addresses the physiological mechanisms linking nutrition to bee health, whether we can develop "smarter' dietary supplements, and how nutrition influences the bees' ability to resist other stressors.
We use a variety of approaches to test questions related to nutrition and the interaction between nutrition and other stressors. These approaches come from the world of insect physiology, microbiology, genetics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and evolutionary ecology.