The primary focus of our current research is the cellular stress responses of the honey bee, a species that is crucial to agricultural and ecological systems. Honey bee colonies in the United States and elsewhere have suffered from an increased rate of die-off in recent years, likely stemming from a complex set of interacting stresses that include nutritional deficiencies due to loss of appropriate forage, chemical poisoning from pesticides, changes to normal living conditions brought about through large-scale beekeeping practices, myriad environmental changes due to climate change, and infection by insect parasites and pathogenic microbes.
My research program now focuses on two main questions to help understand the challenges facing honey bee colonies and to generate solutions for use by beekeepers in the field. First, we believe that an important aspect for understanding how the stressors listed above impact honey bees requires defining specific common cellular processes that are impacted by multiple stressors. To that end we have focused on how honey bees respond to stresses thought to play a role in honey bee health and disease at the cellular level. Specifically we have begun to characterize the pathways of the proteostatic network in bees. Second, we have focused more directly on one stressor, the infection of honey bees by the microsporidia species Nosema ceranae. We have begun to characterize the cellular responses to these same stressors in this key pathogen of the honey bee, focusing again on the pathways of the proteostatic network. The goal is to uncover elements that are unique to N. ceranae, and thus offer avenues for the development of novel therapeutics that have minimal impacts on the honey bee hosts.
Using the honey bee as a model also promises to improve our understanding of the dialogue between humans and our environment and will help move our society toward a more sustainable future.
- B.A., Williams College
- Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences Program, University of California, San Francisco
- Research Fellow, Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University
- Cellular Stress Responses
- Signal transduction
- Regulation of gene expression
- BIOL BC1502 Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology
- BIOL BC3310 Cell Biology
- BIOL BC3311 Laboratory in Cell Biology
- BIOL BC3590 Senior Seminar in Immunology
- BIOL BC3597 Guided Research
- HSPP BC1001-1002 Research Apprenticeship Seminar
For publications, see the following database listing: