As parasites contribute to in pollinator decline, solutions are needed that bolster pollinator immunity without causing toxicity. Nutritional support may help pollinators resist infection. Plant nectars and pollen include toxic compounds that deter insects and inhibit growth of microbes. Plants may use these compounds to prevent contamination, oxidative stress, or undesired consumption of their gametes. Although pollinators generally avoid toxins, their consumption may be beneficial when pollinators are parasitized. I study how different dosages and mixtures of floral metabolites influence bumblebee resistance to their trypanosome parasite Crithidia bombi.
I spent 2009-2011 at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (http://ice.mpg.de) in Jena, Germany. Working with Meredith Schuman, Jonathan Gershenzon, and Ian Baldwin, I tested the role of sesquiterpenes in plant resistance to oxidative stresses. I also explored the contribution of plant volatiles to local formation of aerosols.
I graduated from Cornell University in 2009 in Biology with a Neurobiology and Behavior concentration. I conducted an independent study project with Paul Sherman on the antimicrobial properties of the fermented milk kefir. In 2009 I had an NSF REU at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies studying nitrate reduction in sediments of Onondaga Lake (Syracuse, NY).