Bacteria Living in Bees: How They Interact and How They Affect Their Hosts

This project is ongoing.

We are working on bacterial gut symbionts that live in bees, with the goal of understanding how they affect the health of their hosts. The work involves growing bacterial cultures, inoculating bees with bacteria, and using molecular methods to characterize and manipulate the bacteria. We are developing genetic tools for these bacteria. Also do a lot of bioinformatics to interpret the DNA sequences that we obtain.

All of this work requires being in the lab itself. So we will only be able to accept students if lab work starts up again, and this will depend on university policies.


Background in biology, some previous lab experience, at least in courses.
Preference for students with interests in genetics, microbiology, evolutionary biology, or insects.
The most important requirement is a strong curiosity about biology and motivation to learn more!

Project Timeline

Undergrads join the project each year, as previous students graduate and leave.
The experience is more beneficial if students can spend more than a year; therefore we prefer students who are not yet entering the senior year.


Students can participate by working directly with microbial cultures and molecular methods, working with the insects, or both. Initially they will help with established expeirments, with the possibility of more independent work later.

Students will need to devote at least 10 hours per week, and should plan to commit for at least 2 semesters. There is a possibility of working more hours in the summers.

Initially students start as unpaid volunteers. Those who perform well and are interested in staying in the lab usually transition to a paid student position after 5 months. Some students have worked on projects for course credit.

Typical Time Commitment
10, more during summer
Desired Length of Commitment


The Office of Undergraduate Research recommends that you attend an info session or advising before contacting faculty members or project contacts about research opportunities. We'll cover the steps to get involved, tips for contacting faculty, funding possibilities, and options for course credit. Once you have attended an Office of Undergraduate Research info session or spoken to an advisor, you can use the "Who to contact" details for this project to get in touch with the project leader and express your interest in getting involved.

Have you tried contacting professors and need more help? Schedule an appointment for additional support.