People Index

Esmaeil Amiri

Postdoctoral researcher, UNC Greensboro (Olav Rueppell's lab)

Esmaeil's research is centered around a collaborative effort to measure the various stresses within colonies, centering on measuring colonies for their virus profiles and seeing how they interact with other environmental stressors. This is a logical and productive continuation of his past research, where he forged an interest in evolutionary biology and research by developing his area of expertise in viruses and bee health. For example, part of his work provide the first and only empirical evidence of a sexually transmitted viral disease in honey bees, heretofore unbeknownst to science. As such he has been able to quickly incorporate the qPCR techniques involved in the project and has made great headway in the complicated multifactorial analyses.

Victoria Blanchard

Visiting undergraduate researcher, University of Exeter (UK)

Viki has been working with Dr. James Cresswell at the University of Exeter, one of the top solitary bee programs in the UK. She is here for the current academic year assisting with various projects and learning new molecular techniques. This spring she is gearing up for her own project investigating how different bee species across the social gradient may differentially regulate their temperatures in response to disease challenge.

Claire Collins

Undergraduate media intern

Claire is the media intern for the NC State Apiculture program. She is an undergraduate film major that began learning more in depth about bees after taking Dr. Tarpy’s Bees and Beekeeping course. She makes videos that display the lab members’ projects and the NC state hives and our bees. She also keeps up with the social media accounts for the program and takes photos and videos of the events that we hold and projects that the lab gets involved with. Claire plans to work in the lab for her entire undergraduate career, and has plans to collaborate as a videographer for a virtual reality beekeeping project.

Carl Guiffre

Ph.D. Student, Biomathematics Program

Carl’s research has three main projects, threaded together by his aim is to develop automated means of transcribing complex information—such as social behavior—from digital media. His first chapter addresses the behavioral and social grooming behavior of honey bee workers, an important mechanism for disease resistance. He has developed an entire video-capture system and bioassay to automatically calculate the rate and degree of grooming, which will help future research into collecting such data in a high-throughput process. His second chapter investigates the interaction between the most problematic parasite of honey bees, the varroa mite (Varroa destructor), and their associated viruses that they vector and cause bee ill-health. Finally, his third chapter focuses on developing an automated process of assigning pollen sources by color recognition. Carl’s exciting new procedure may someday enable beekeepers to take a simple picture of collected pollen and immediately identify the floral sources from which it derives.

Sarah Hassan

Undergraduate research assistant

I am an undergraduate student majoring in French and Horticultural Science and minoring in Entomology. I joined the Tarpy Lab this semester (Spring 2017) and will be assisting Joe Milone, a PhD student researching the exposome of pesticides on honey bee queens and studying how that may affect queen reproduction and the livelihood of the colony down the line.

Christopher Juberg

Undergraduate research assistant

Chris joined our lab last year, and he has been helping out with several projects in our genetics lab.

Jennifer Keller

Apiculture Technician

Ms. Keller is responsible for all beekeeping maintenance and implementation of any field research and data collection. She is an integral part of all empirical studies involving live honey bees at our Lake Wheeler Honey Bee Research Facility. Her MS research was on the biology of the small hive beetle, but she has since become an expert in queen rearing, insemination, in vitro rearing, and many other empirical techniques.

Hannah Levenson

Field Research Technician

Hannah is spearheading a new study measuring the effects of planted pollinator habitats on native bee populations. This past year Hannah has coordinated the sampling of the native bee populations at wildflower plots planted at each of the NCDA Experimental Research Stations. Now that the field season is over Hannah will transition into lab work, assisted by Victoria Blanchard, an exchange student from the UK. Hannah plans to apply to graduate school and hopes to develop this study into her masters project.

Hongmei Li-Byarlay

NRC Postdoctoral Fellow (with Mimi Strand and Olav Rueppell)

I'm working on insect genomics, stress, and social behavior. My research interests include how genetic or epigenetic marks regulate gene activities in natural conditions as well as different stress conditions, or how they affects social behaviors of insects.

Erin McDermott

Genetics research assistant

Erin works primarily on the Bee Informed Partnership project investigating the association between honey bee health and virus prevalence and incidence. She conducts RNA/DNA extractions and qRT-PCR, as well as assists with queen dissections for the Queen & Disease Clinic and field sampling for our projects in pollination ecology. Erin is an NC State graduate and has plans to go onto grad school.

Joe Milone

PhD Student

My current research focuses on how realistic exposure environments and genetic susceptibility influence queen reproductive fitness and downstream colony phenotype. I am also interested in the development of accessible biomarkers for improving exposure assessment in honey bees. [VIDEO]

Stephanie Roth

Undergraduate beekeeping assistant

Stephanie is an undergraduate student studying Biological Sciences. She assists Jennifer Keller at the Lake Wheeler Honey Bee Research facility in an effort to hone her apiculture skills.

David Tarpy

Professor and Extension Apiculturist

David Tarpy is a Professor of Entomology and the Extension Apiculturist at North Carolina State University since 2003. His research interests focus on the biology and behavior of honey bee queens—using techniques including field manipulations, behavioral observation, instrumental insemination, and molecular genetics—in order to better improve the overall health of queens and their colonies. Specific research projects include understanding the effect of the polyandrous mating strategy of queen bees on colony disease resistance, using molecular methods to determine the genetic structure within honey bee colonies, and the determining the regulation of reproduction at the individual and colony levels. His work has provided some of the best empirical evidence that multiple mating by queens confers multiple and significant benefits to colonies through increased genetic diversity of their nestmates. More recently, his lab group has focused on the reproductive potential of commercially produced queens, testing their genetic diversity and mating success in an effort to improve queen quality.

James Withrow

PhD Student

James is interested in the evolutionary and behavioral ecology of social insects, focusing on honey bee queen biology. For his MS thesis, he is exploring how emergency-reared queens often derive from unusual rare genotypes ("royal patrilines") and to what extent they are seen in colonies. He is also studying the pragmatic effects of shipping conditions on queen quality, specifically how temperature profiles during package transport may influence sperm viability and queen longevity. He plans to continue on for a PhD in our program upon completion of his masters work.