Ph.D. from Montana State University, 2006
Michelle Flenniken is an Assistant Professor in the in Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology at Montana State University. Research in the Flenniken Lab is aimed at elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying host-pathogen interactions in honey bees (Apis mellifera). Projects in the lab focus on elucidating the mechanisms of honey bee antiviral defense, identifying the pathogens associated with colony losses (including CCD), determining how immune responses govern the outcome of infections, and investigating the impact (sublethal effects) of agrochemicals on honey bee health.
Assistant Professor of Ecology
Laura Burkle is an Assistant Professor of Ecology at Montana State University. Research in the Burkle lab aims to understand the environmental drivers of variation in plant and pollinator biodiversity and pollination services across heterogeneous landscapes. Projects in the lab include the effects of climate change, wildfire, and land use on plant-pollinator interactions. In agricultural systems, we are studying the efficacy of techniques, such as perennial flower strips, to improve pollinator forage and health.
Robert K. D. Peterson
Professor of Entomology, Ph.D.
Ph.D. Entomology, Minor in Agronomy, 1995, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; M.S. Entomology 1991, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; B.S. 1987, Iowa State University
Robert K. D. Peterson is Professor of Entomology at Montana State University, where he leads the research, teaching, and outreach program in Agricultural and Biological Risk Assessment. More specifically, the program is centered on comparative risk assessment. Additional areas of research emphasis include insect ecology, plant-stress ecophysiology, and integrated pest management. All four areas form a diverse, yet interrelated research program. Bob teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, including environmental risk assessment, insect ecology, and various special-topics graduate courses.
Research on pollinator health mainly includes mortality risk to the alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata. Specific and current research topics include bee susceptibility to insecticides used for mosquito management and bee demography and mortality dynamics.
Office: 219 Linfield Hall
Head and Professor of Ecology, Ph.D.
Ph.D. Biology, Montana State University 1991; M.S. University of Michigan, Natural Resources Policy, Economics, and Management, 1986, B.S. University of Maryland - Baltimore County, Biology, 1984
The Debinski Lab pursues research and teaching in the fields of conservation biology, landscape ecology, and restoration ecology with a particular focus on pollinators such as butterflies. Some of the topics of research include biodiversity preservation and management, effects of habitat fragmentation, and assessing climate change responses. In grasslands, research has focused on evaluating the use of fire and grazing in the context of managing for plant and pollinator communities. In montane meadows we have been conducting both observational and experimental studies of plant and butterfly responses to drought and environmental variation.
MSU Scientists and Affiliates Involved in Pollinator Research and Associated Projects
Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA, Forest Service
Research Entomologist, Ph.D.
Justin's research focuses on plant-insect chemical ecology. His current research includes: (1) exploring chemically-mediated ecological interactions between invasive plants and herbivores to improve biocontrol as a management tool, (2) examining how bark beetle attack alters tree chemistry and how this affects flammability to better predict and manage wildfires, (3) investigating the roles plant volatiles play in plant-pollinator interactions and how climate change alters these interactions at the community level, and (4) exploiting sagebrush chemistry to improve restoration.
Justin also researches the taxonomy and biodiversity of long-legged flies (Diptera: Dolichopodidae).
Land Resources & Environmental Sciences
Casey Delphia is a Research Scientist in the Department of Land Resources & Environmental Sciences. Her research focuses on increasing understanding of the biology and ecology of wild native bees as well as managed solitary bees in agricultural and wildland ecosystems to inform management practices that support healthy, stable, and sustainable pollination systems. She has also been gaining extensive experience in native bee identification and helping to build a comprehensive reference collection in an effort to develop a native bee species checklist for Montana as a baseline for future monitoring efforts. Current research projects include 1) evaluating the use of native perennial flower strips for supporting native bees and pollination services on farmlands, 2) increasing sustainability of alfalfa leafcutting bee populationson alfalfa seed farms using floral resource management strategies, and 3) documenting the bumble bees of Montana.
Ph.D. 1990, McGill University, Canada; B.S. 1984, Dalhousie University, Canada
Chemical ecology and behavior, biological control, plant-insect interactions, and
spatial ecology. Research includes plant and insect semiochemical interactions, biological
control of insects and weeds in agricultural and range land communities, host plant
resistance, and stored-product entomology.
Office: 412 Leon Johnson Hall
Western Triangle Ag Research Center
Ph.D. 2004, University of British Columbia
Research in the Wanner lab that includes honey bees focuses on understanding the basic function of insect chemosensory systems, including olfaction. The senses of smell and taste mediate many important honeybee behaviors that contribute to colony health. Foraging, hygienic, mating, retinue and swarming behaviors are only a few of many behaviors in the colony that are mediate by chemical communication. Using functional genomics approaches my research has characterized specific odorant receptors and their genes expressed in the antennae that detect important chemical cues such as queen pheromone. As the MSU Extension Specialist for Cropland Entomology I also organize a one-day workshop for beginner beekeepers that includes information on colony health.
Office: Marsh Labs Room 8
Lab: Marsh Labs Room 10 or Plant BioScience Room 333
Ruth O’Neill is a hobbyist beekeeper and a Research Associate in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology at MSU, in the Wanner Crop Entomology Lab. Education outreach efforts in the lab include an annual spring workshop for new beekeepers. Laboratory research projects include investigation of targeted cropland seed treatments that minimize harmful impacts on pollinators.
Lab: 10 Marsh Lab
Alex McMenamin, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Fenali Parekh, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Allumni and Current Appointment
Laura Brutscher, PhD, University of California-Davis
Alyssa M. Piccolomini, MS, Entomologist, Montana Department of Agriculture