Anna Fulbright
Year: 2022
Faculty Advisor: Scott McArt

“Exploring the Relationship Between Flower Richness and Bees Infected with Crithidia bombi

Project Summary:

Bees are the prime pollinators of many wild habitats and are critical to maintaining the biodiversity of different environments. They pollinate wild plants and crops that are necessary to support the human population. Due to the importance of bees, threats to their health can lead to ruined ecosystems and extreme consequences for humans, including a sharp decrease in food production. The parasite, Crithidia bombi, weakens bees and has been shown to slow down a bee’s ability to pollinate. In general, parasites spread through transportation hubs, which are flowers in the case of bees. At the moment, there is not a lot of research on how C. bombi spreads from one bee to another or on the variety of flowers C. bombi is found on. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to identify a clear connection between floral variety and the amount of C. bombi in bees in order to better understand how the amount of this detrimental parasite is affected by floral variation.

My Experience:

The BTI High School Intern program has been an incredible experience that has introduced me to the world of science and lab work in an interactive and engaging way. I have learned about the process of performing research to answer a specific question and gained hands-on experience by performing my own small research project with guidance from my lab. Not only has this program shown me what the day-to-day life of someone in a lab is like, but it has also provided me with countless opportunities to meet people from a wide variety of backgrounds and to listen to their stories and learn from their experiences. The people in my lab were always ready to teach me whatever I wanted to learn, whether that be how to dissect a bee, create a research proposal, or design a graph in the data visualization software, R. Hearing about their life experiences has inspired me to chase what I am passionate about and to learn from people wherever I go in my future.