Our team:

MSU Faculty

michelle april 2018

Michelle Flenniken

Co-Director, Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology

Associate Professor
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.

Office: 215 Plant BioScience Building
Lab: 337 Plant BioScience Building

Phone: 406-994-7229 (office), 406-994-5152 (lab)
Email  |  Faculty Webpage 

msu pollinator research burkle

Laura Burkle

Co-Director, Ecology

Associate 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.

Email  |  Lab Webpage

msu pollinator research ivie

Michael Ivie

Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology

Associate Professor and Curator of Entomology
Ph.D. Systematic Entomology, 1985, The Ohio State University

Office: Room 50A Marsh Lab
Lab: 5 Marsh Lab

Phone: 406-994-4610 (office), 406-994-4943 (lab)
Fax: 406-994-6029
Email  |  Faculty Webpage

msu pollinator research peterson

Robert K. D. Peterson

Land Resources and Environmental Sciences

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

Phone: 406-994-7927
Email  |  Faculty Webpage

kevin o

Kevin O’Neill

Land Resources and Environmental Sciences

Professor, Ph.D.
Ph.D. 1981, M.S. 1978, Colorado State University; B.S. 1975, S.U.N.Y. College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry at Syracuse University

Lab: 18 Marsh Lab

Phone: 406-994-2333
Email  |  Faculty Webpage


Diane Debinski

Department of Ecology

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.

Office: 310 Lewis Hall
Phone: 406-994-2949
Email  |  Faculty Webpage

MSU Scientists and Affiliates Involved in Pollinator Research and Associated Projects

msu pollinator researcher justin runyon

Justin Runyon

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).


casey headshot2 flowers copy

Casey Delphia

Research Scientist

Entomology, Ph.D.

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.


msu pollinator research bambauer

David Baumbauer

Horticulture Farm Manager


M.S.F. 1985, University of Montana

Office: Plant Growth Center

Phone: 406-994-2231
Email  |  Webpage

David Weaver

Land Resources and Environmental Sciences

Associate Professor
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

  |  Faculty Webpage

Gadi Reddy

Western Triangle Ag Research Center

Superintendent and Associate Professor


Gadi Reddy’s research interest include integrated pest management and the development of formulations of pesticides that result in reduced interactions between beneficial insect pollinators and pesticides. 

msu pollinator researcher kevin wanner

Kevin Wanner

Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology

Associate Professor
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

Phone:406-994-5663 (office), Lab: 406-994-7267 or 994-5146
Fax: 406-994-7600
Email  |  Faculty Webpage | Big Sky Bees

msu pollinator researcher oneill ruth

Ruth O’Neill

MSU Extension


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

Phone: 406-994-5176
Email  |

Alyssa Piccolomini

Montana Department of Agriculture


Montana Department of Agriculture
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601

Phone: 406-444-3790
Fax: 406-444-9493
Email  | 

Beth Eirling

Montana Department of Agriculture

Natural Resource Program Manager

Montana Department of Agriculture
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601

Phone: 406-444-9454
Fax: 406-444-9466
Email  | 

Graduate Students

Alex McMenamin, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Fenali Parekh,  Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Anthony Slominski,  Department of Ecology

Will Glenny,  Department of Ecology

Michael Simanonock,  Department of Ecology

Allumni and Current Appointment

Laura Brutscher, PhD, University of California-Davis

Alyssa M. Piccolomini, MS, Entomologist, Montana Department of Agriculture