Project Apis m. is proud to announce the 2022 selection of PAm-Costco Scholars!
The highly competitive PAm-Costco USA Scholarships are awarded to outstanding scholars who are dedicated to making an impact on honey bee health and the sustainability of beekeeping throughout their careers.
PAm-Costco scholars demonstrate academic excellence, innovation, scientific aptitude, communication skills, and a commitment to honey bees and beekeepers.
The students who receive this PhD Fellowship award bring new energy, ideas, and expertise to the fold of scientists pushing the edges of bee health research across the globe. This award is an investment in the next generation of leaders to innovate and support beekeepers and pollinators.
We commend all of our applicants, and give our heartfelt congratulations the Awardees!
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PhD student in the Agriculture and Environmental
Chemistry group at UC Davis
Angela Encerrado is an international PhD student in the Agriculture and Environmental Chemistry group at UC Davis where she studies the uptake, disposition, and accumulation of xenobiotic chemicals in honey bee colonies, with a special focus on queen bee health and reproduction. Angela earned her BS in Environmental Science, and her MS in Chemistry at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), the border city to her hometown of Cd. Juarez, Mexico.
During her studies, she specialized in analytical techniques for extraction and detection of common environmental pollutants in multiple matrices (such as water, fat tissue, milk) under the mentorship of Dr. Wen-Yee Lee. Angela’s interest and love for honey bees started at a very young age when learning the basic beekeeping techniques from her father Martin Encerrado, an engineer and renowned beekeeper in the Cd. Juarez and Samalayuca regions in northern Mexico. Through her father’s work with commercial crop farmers and honey bees Angela gained an immense respect for agriculture and beekeeping.
Through her Hispanic background, Angela aims to provide a crucial link between beekeepers, scientist, and farmers in California by adding her scientific discoveries to beekeeper’s and farmer’s generational expertise. Angela aims to merge her interest for environmental science, beekeeping, and agriculture during her PhD project by bringing innovative analytical and biomolecular techniques into the honeybee health research field.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Sascha Nicklisch (UC Davis) and Dr. Julia Fine (USDA ARS), she has access to a unique honeybee laboratory that combines the expertise of entomology, biochemistry, and environmental chemistry. Angela hopes that her work will fundamentally improve the knowledge of pesticide fate within hives and effects on honey bee health, inform novel mitigation strategies, and promote interactive communication and exchange of ideas between beekeepers, crop farmers and researchers.
Chris Robinson and Audrey Parish
PhD students, Indiana University
Chris Robinson is a PhD student at Indiana University where he is studying the ecology and evolution of honey bee viruses. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 2015, Chris spent 6 years exploring the realms of food and agriculture in his native Charleston, South Carolina where he fermented peppers in busy restaurant kitchens, drove tractors for the Agricultural Research Service, and lived for two months in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone conducting research on fungal biodiversity and food security. His goal is to use science for improving the livelihoods of communities intrinsic to both the production and exploration of food. Chris aims to do this by fostering a deeper understanding of honey bee viral epidemics while developing novel approaches that dampen the impact of Varroa mite virus transmission.
Throughout his PhD, Chris will combine approaches in evolutionary genomics, computational biology, and classical entomological methods to accomplish two goals. The first goal is to combine deep sequencing and computational methods so that we can better understand how parasitism by Varroa mite changes the honey bee virome and contributes to colony collapse. The second goal is to explore the relationship between the endosymbiotic bacteria Wolbachia and Varroa mite. Wolbachia has been demonstrated to block the transmission of viruses from mosquitoes to humans and may have a blocking effect on the transmission of viruses from Varroa mite to honey bees. Chris hopes his work will inspire further studies in honey bee health and improve both the sustainability and affordability of beekeeping.
Audrey Parish is a PhD candidate in Irene Newton’s lab at Indiana University. Audrey studies how the honey bee larval microbiome helps protect larvae from stressors. In her graduate career, Audrey has discovered how the larvae-associated bacterium, Bombella apis, provisions the essential amino acid lysine to larvae via their diet and rescues larval growth under starvation conditions. As a member of local beekeeping associations, she has surveyed local hobbyist and commercial beekeepers on the stressors their colonies face. These interactions allow Audrey to assume a solutions-based approach in her research, and to discuss microbiome-grounded solutions with local beekeepers. Her long term goal is to leverage the associations between bacteria and animals to improve the safety and sustainability of modern agriculture.
In her future PhD studies, Audrey will turn her attention to honey bee larval viruses, with the vision that nutrition underpins many important host phenotypes, including the immune response. Honey bees who experience poor nutrition also are more likely to fall victim to viral disease. She hypothesizes that better nutrition, through microbial supplementation, could protect bees from the viral pathogens. To test if nutritional buffering by B. apis extends to protection against viral disease, Audrey will test the contribution of B. apis to survival of larvae challenged with a panel of viruses and track sublethal phenotypes such as time to eclosion and adult mass to measure the long-term effects of rescue on honey bee health.
(previous recipient of the Christi Heintz Memorial Award)
PhD student, Auburn University
Runner-up Award: $50,000
Rogan Tokach is a current Master's student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln being advised by Drs. Judy Wu-Smart and Autumn Smart. His current research focuses on how a pesticide contaminated environment affects worker bee behavior within the hive and how re-using contaminated resources impacts queen rearing potential. He plans to graduate in December and begin a PhD with Dr. Geoff Williams at Auburn University.
At Auburn, Rogan plans on investigating amitraz resistant Varroa mite populations in commercial honey bee operations in coordination with Dr. Rinkevich and the USDA-ARS lab in Baton Rouge. He will also look at when colonies experience a broodless period in the southeastern United States, and what treatments are most effective at eliminating phoretic mites in that situation.