Evolutionary Genetics, Behavior, and Conservation of Bees

Our lab team performs research on the ecology, evolution, genetics, and behavior of bees, with a special focus on bumble bees. Projects in the lab are integrative and cover numerous facets of science, with recent undergraduates pursuing projects spanning topics such as molecular genetics, field ecology, behavior, chemical ecology, geography, thermal biology, pigment research, and toxicology, all as they relate to aspects of the evolution and health of these bees.

Currently we are seeking undergraduate researchers to pursue independent research or research assistance for the the projects listed below. Opportunities are available for summer research funding.

  1. Differential bumble bee tolerance to floral secondary compounds: We are seeking an undergraduate researcher to assist with a project examining the role of floral nectar compounds in driving visitation patterns in bees. For this project students can be involved in field observations and/or in bumble bee rearing and lab tests of bee feeding preferences and toxicity. This could potentially include tests of the role of nectar compounds in pathogen and pesticide tolerance as well. These projects would involve a summer commitment.
  2. Role of landscape variables and climate in bumble bee community composition and health: This project would involve field research and/or lab screens of bee pathogens. This project involves a summer commitment.
  3. Evolutionary genetics/Evo-Devo of bumble bee coloration: The lab has targeted genes in driving diversity in color pattern in bumble bees. We now seek to understand how these genes evolve across the color radiation and generate these phenotypes. Students involved in this project could be involved in bee rearing, performing dissections, and applying advanced molecular procedures such as examining comparative gene expression or exploring the application of new genetic technologies (e.g., RNAi, CRISPR). This project is best for undergraduates committed to a future involving molecular research.

University Park
Number of Opportunities: 
Minimum Qualifications: 

A GPA higher than 3.4 is preferred.

Posting Date: 
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 to Thursday, December 31, 2020
Position Type: 
Paid Employment, Academic Credit
Opportunity Timeframe: 
Fall, Spring, Summer
Other Requirements: 

Opportunities 1 and 2 are for summer and/or late Spring semester research, but will likely involve data analysis into the Fall. Ideally, the student would be able to commit at least 20 hours/week during the summer for research and at least 6 hours per week during the semester. Students must have attention to detail and a passion for scientific research. Students must have the flexibility in their schedules to commit to the demands of their experiments. For semester research, students should make the same amount of room for this experience in their schedule as they would for a typical class. For summer research experiences, students would be encouraged to apply to programs to fund their opportunities. Alternative financial stipends may be available. Semester research is for credit only.

Application Procedure: 

Please send an email to the lab PI Heather Hines (hmh19@psu.edu) inquiring about opportunities. Include your motivation for pursuing the research, the project you may be interested in, and preferably a resume/CV including your GPA.