Entomologist and Conservationist
Nearly three-fourths of the animals on this planet are insects, but I’m always the first entomologist anyone has met. Insects could certainly benefit from a better PR campaign, with the conspicuous exclusion of honey bees. Honey bees have taken over public consciousness and have become that rare uncontroversial symbol of conservation. However, with so many people talking about saving the bees, the voices of experts have rarely been clear and central in the discussion. The issue of what’s killing them has become so murky that a lot of the passion around protecting bees has gone to waste. Therefore, the work that I’ve been leading around the globe has had two clear focuses: solid science to save bees and clear communication to the public.
My research on bee health has shown how an invasive parasite has triggered a pollinator pandemic. A little red mite from Southeast Asia is currently liquefying our bees’ livers, impacting their immune health, ability to collect food, and even their ability to detoxify pesticides. Now, a new parasite (the “Tropi mite”) is emerging from this same region of the world, destroying bee populations in every country it spreads to. I now track this parasite and study how it can be controlled before it arrives in North America.
“We can’t win this battle without amplifying the voices of those typically ignored in science, the people who know these bees the best.”