Courtney Smith Receives Undergraduate Research Award

Congratulations to Courtney Smith for receiving an Undergraduate Research Award to study pollinators with Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt this summer!  The following is from Courtney about her path to studying entomology:

“I am majoring in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology with a concentration in Conservation Biology.

X-ray of carpenter bee nests by Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt
An x-ray of a carpenter bee nest from the bee bench project.

However, I want to pursue entomology in graduate school. I reached out to Elsa to seek work in her lab because she conducts research in both urban ecology and insects, which combines both of my interests. I learned about her lab through the Speed Data-ing event that the Office of Undergraduate Research holds in the fall. Over the spring semester, I worked on a carpenter bee project, but I asked to become involved with summer work as well.

The project over the summer will examine how different landscapes affect the movement of several bee species. My part of the project will focus on honey bees. There are five different home sites around Raleigh, each of which is at the intersection of different landscapes. The landscape types are residential (family homes with yards on low traffic streets), commercial (with 2+ story buildings and busier roads), forest, and highway. We will place a hive of honey bees at each study site and release the honey bees. Before releasing them, we will tag the honey bees with RFID radio-frequency identification tags, which use bar tags to identify items, to track their movement. There will be a scanner at the hive entrance that will scan the barcode and record the time of return of the honey bees. This way, we can gather data on how long it took the honey bees to return to their hives (and the percentage of bees that were actually able to return to the hives) over the different landscape types. We hope to gain information about how different landscapes affect honey bee movement. More research is needed on the impact of habitat fragmentation on pollinators, which is why we are conducting our project. After identifying patterns among different landscapes, we may be able to determine which landscapes are beneficial and which are harmful. This will impact pollinator conservation as we learn which elements of a landscape allow honey bees to safely travel, forage, and pollinate.”

Congratulations, Courtney!

One response on “Courtney Smith Receives Undergraduate Research Award

  1. Theresa Johnson says:

    Congratulations Courtney! I know you will learn a lot from this summer study and apply it in your future career! I’m proud of all you’ve accomplished. Theresa Johnson

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