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University of Nevada Reno
Fleischmann 311A

(775) 784-1932

News

Summer 2017

Anne Leonard

Measuring nectar

Measuring nectar

We're wrapping up a great summer by attending the BOMBUSS conference in Logan, Utah. This first-of-its kind meeting was an intensive immersion in methods for bumblebee researchers.

Felicity gave a lightning talk and poster about the new FMPER technique, which we are using to measure learning in wild bees. Excitingly, the paper describing the method is now out (Methods in Ecology and Evolution). The FMPER technique is not only awesome for our research, but also makes a great undergraduate lab activity (contact us for details).

After co-leading a session on "Foraging and Nutrition" with Hollis Woodard (UC Riverside), and spending 3 days talking Bombus non-stop, very excited to get back to lab and try out some of what we've learned!

We're going to keep BOMBUSS spirit alive at UNR this semester, with EECB Colloquia by Hollis Woodard, Maj Rundlöf (Lund University./UC Davis)  aaaaand Felicity Muth herself this semester!

Mentoring Award!

Anne Leonard

Celebrating at Midtown Eats with a "Bee's Knees" cocktail

Celebrating at Midtown Eats with a "Bee's Knees" cocktail

I was honored to receive the 2017 "Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor" award, from UNR! We try hard to create a research environment in which undergraduates have a chance to get a taste of science. Thanks everyone!!!!

2017 Bee Bake Off!

Anne Leonard

Felicity's edible bumblebee colony, complete with honeypots

Felicity's edible bumblebee colony, complete with honeypots

Springtime, and lots to celebrate!

  • Emily Breslow successfully defended her honors thesis on octopamine
  • Devon and Jake received Whittell Fellowships for research at Little Valley
  • Devon won 4th place ($250) for her poster at the UC Davis Bee Symposium, and Felicity gave an excellent lighting talk!
  • Crystal Wang received a Nevada Undergraduate Research Award to fund an independent research project
  • And, we had our annual Bee Bake Off!! Held annually in memory of Harvi Singh (a former undergrad who brought his A-game to bee-themed baking), we had many tasty contributions. This years's winner? Jake Francis! Pictured holding the "B" trophy, for his orange-buttercream bumblebee macarons.

Bees on a sugar rush? New Animal Behaviour paper out!

Anne Leonard

Most flowers offer visitors some combination of nectar AND pollen, but nearly all research on bee cognition involves nectar alone (or, increasingly, pollen alone). We wondered how well bees learned an association between color and a given resource (pollen) when they were also collecting the alternative resource (nectar).

The paper tells a complex story that can be easily summarized: while collecting pollen had no effect on bees' ability to learn a nectar-color association, collecting nectar impaired their ability to learn a pollen-color association.

Read the whole story for our thoughts on why this might be happening, and what it might mean for plant fitness. This paper was a long time in coming, so it's nice to see out!

NPR's Science Friday!

Anne Leonard

Felicity demonstrates a new system for marking bees with magnetic thorax tags.

Felicity demonstrates a new system for marking bees with magnetic thorax tags.

Dr. Felicity Muth, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab, is due to be on Science Friday today! (March 3, 11-1 PST). Felicity will be discussing new research on bee intelligence, alongside host Ira Flatow and UK researcher Dr. Lars Chittka.

Listen to the 17 minute segment, and read a few more details available at: http://sciencefriday.com/segments/the-secret-smart-life-of-bees/

If you found your way here after listening to the show, here are links to Felicity's:

 

PBS Video "Deep Look"

Anne Leonard

Josh Cassidy's awesome footage

Josh Cassidy's awesome footage

We're super excited about this short video and article put out by Deep Look, a science series produced by childhood-dominating Bay Area PBS station KQED! Filmmaker Josh Cassidy visited our lab for 2 days in April, and got some great footage of our bees on persian violet (Exacum affine). Jake makes a cameo in the footage, and his research is featured in the article by Lisa Potter. It was a great experience start to finish!

Deep Look is a great series that combines beautiful footage with truly in-depth science, and I highly recommend subscribing on YouTube!

Bees have good taste: new Biology Letters paper out!

Anne Leonard

**Update: this got a lot of press! Science, Nature and Scientific American**

In our new Biology Letters paper, Felicity, Jake and I showed that bees responded differently to pollen blends adulterated with a sweet (sucrose) or bitter (quinine) substance. The taste of pollen affected how much of it bees collected from a flower, as well as their tendency to land subsequently on a visually-similar flower. We're excited about the implications of these findings for looking at pollen chemistry in a new light! This was also a fun chance to use our thermal camera :)

Request a copy on ResearchGate!

End of year awards

Anne Leonard

The end of the year brought two reasons to attend the Biology Awards ceremony: Simon White successfully presented his Biology With Distinction project to the department, and Devon Picklum received a Wilson Scholarship!

2016 Bee Bake-off!

Anne Leonard

The first annual Bee Bake Off was a major success! The first recipient of the Leonard Lab "B" was none other than Devon Picklum, with her sugar bee cream puffs. Emily's bee pizza would have won for "biggest bee" if there was such a cateogory (next year). And reassuringly, Felicity did not use dead bees in her creation.

New paper on pollen learning: real flowers!

Anne Leonard

"Mosaic" flowers (aka frankenflower) created by combining different species' corollas and anthers

Our NSF collaboration with colleagues at the University of Arizona (PhD Student Avery Russell, co-PI Dan Papaj and undergraduate Rebekah Golden) has produced a new paper in Behavioral Ecology, involving a first-of-its-kind experiment that explores what floral features bees learn from plants that reward bees with pollen alone. Avery pioneered the "frankenflower" design, which allows him to compare the responses of naive and experienced bees to flowers that have anthers matched or mismatched between Solanum and Exacum plants. Check it out on ResearchGate, or via the journal website. Congrats Avery!!

UNR College of Science Poster Session

Anne Leonard

Happy poster presenters and mentors!

Happy poster presenters and mentors!

The 2015 COS Poster competition just wrapped up, and we were pleased to present five posters in the undergraduate and graduate divisions. All did amazingly well, and their posters will soon be on display in our building. Excitingly, Emily was awarded first place, and Cheyenne third place. Congrats to all on a great showing!