Team

Disclaimer – This information is correct to the best of my knowledge. (Alumni: Please send me updated information!)

Lab Members:

 

Rassol Bahreini (Senior researcher): I have been a honey bee researcher for over 30 years . I have received my MSc and PhD in Entomology from the University of Ahvaz (Iran, 1993) and the University of Manitoba (Canada, 2015), respectively. In my previous positions, as Apiculture Research Scientist in the Animal Science Research Institute-Iran, and Alberta Agricultural and Forestry-Canada, I carried out many studies of honey bee biology, control of parasites and pathogens, integrated pest management, and studies of Varroacides. In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate students, my extension activities encouraged beekeepers to adopt new and improved methods of honey bee IPM to manage pests and diseases, using a variety of methods. My recent projects were focused on new miticides and antibiotics to assist producers in solving challenges related to honey bee parasites and diseases. At the University of Alberta, I will continue my research on the development of new miticides and antibiotics for control Varroa mites and Nosema disease.
Rupika Banda (Undergraduate student):  I am a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Alberta working towards a Bachelor of Science with a Specialization in Pharmacology. I am interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, and I love to read and go on walks in my spare time. I am excited to learn more about honey bees and study them to expand my knowledge about genetics and genomics in Dr. Rueppell’s lab!
Breanna Bevan (Undergraduate student)
Jacob Herman (PhD student): I earned my Bachelors degree in Entomology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I worked with Dr. Gene Robinson on various components of honey bee neuroethology and evolution. After this, I attained my Master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior under the supervision of Dr. Ulrich Mueller. My thesis focused on studying the ecology and population dynamics of Apis florea, the Dwarf Asian Honey Bee, and involved the collection of natural colonies spanning all of India. I have joined the Rueppell lab in hope of continuing my work on Asian Honey Bees, and better understanding the ecology and genetic architecture driving complex adaptations to stress and life history across Apis. I have transitioned from UNCG to the UofA.
Vanessa Gomes Fornaziero (Undergraduate student)
Chenoa Kaufman (Undergraduate student): I am a fourth-year undergraduate student in Honors Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology here at the University of Alberta. I am always thrilled to be working in the Rueppell Lab, so I am very thankful to be funded by the NSERC-USRA for my second summer here. I am working on understanding Black Queen Cell Virus infections in honey bees, and I hope to develop my apiculture, molecular biology, and leadership skills this summer. Outside of my work, I also enjoy volunteering with the U of A Rotaract Club, spending time in the sun, and being with friends or family!
Carina Lai (Laboratory manager):My research interests broadly encompass molecular ecology and organisms’ responses to environmental stress. I previously received my Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Queen’s University (Undergraduate advisor: Dr. Fran Bonier) and gained experience as a lab technician in Dr. Pedro Antunes’ lab at Algoma University before pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Calgary under the supervision of Dr. Sean Rogers. For my master’s research, I examined the impacts of sedimentation on early-life phenotypic outcomes and gene expression in Coho salmon. In my new position, I am now excited to learn about honey bees. Outside of research, I enjoy hiking and playing musical instruments.
Robert Xinzhi Lu (MSc student): Having completed my bachelor’s of science degree here at the University of Alberta, I have returned to my alma mater to conduct my master’s of science in the Rueppell lab. A parasitologist by interest, my research focuses on the host-parasite interactions between the western honeybee (Apis mellifera), and the parasitic mite Varroa destructor. Specifically, I am looking at aspects impacting the health of the host, such that we may be able to better combat infections of varroa in commercial beehives. My primary research project is split between the Rueppell Lab here at the UofA, and the Beaverlodge Apicultural Research Farm, under tutelage of Dr. Steve Pernal, and aims to test the efficacy and toxicology of a newly developed miticide. When not in the lab, I particularly enjoy spending time fishing or on my charcoal drawings.
Demi Meier (Research technician): After completing my bachelor’s in animal health science at the University of Alberta (2022), I now have the exciting opportunity to join the Rueppell team and assist Dr. Bahreini’s research on Varroa mites. Throughout my academic career I spent my spare time volunteering at the local zoo and animal rehabilitation center, and I assisted my dog’s vet. Before joining this team, I was part of an environmental engineering lab where the focus was water and the impact we have on the resource. Just like my pervious experiences, the honeybee research is adding to my passion for animals and nature.
Travis Murray (Undergraduate student): I am a fourth year student in the BSc (Hons) molecular, cellular, and developmental biology program at the UofA. My scientific interests are broad, but I am particularly fascinated by the largely invisible yet profoundly consequential microbial world and by the genetic underpinnings of all life (and some non-life!). This year, I am excited to be investigating interactions of honeybee viruses in the Rueppell lab thanks to NSERC-USRA funding. Outside of the lab, I enjoy getting involved in science communication and exploring the natural world.
Ajay Poudel (MSc student): With a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural science from the Agriculture and Forestry University in Nepal, and backyard/farm beekeeping experience since my teenage years, I have developed a deep appreciation for bees because of their role in pollination and the value they convey to the bee-keeping community. Determined to contribute to the existing knowledge on honeybees, I have joined the Rueppell lab as a Master’s student in UofA Department of Biological Sciences, with a motive to work on the honeybee health, specifically, honey bee viruses. I look forward to this opportunity to study the efficacy of putative immunoregulatory substances in virus infected honeybee foraging activity along with exploring the probable immune pathways. As a person who loves to learn, teach, and do research, staying in academia is among my future plans. Outside of my academic life, I love singing, reading & watching fantasy, and following cricket.”
Olav Rueppell (Group leader, mentor, and PI): For a summary of my interests and contributions, please see my CV.

Office: CW-468A Bio Science Building
Email: olav@ualberta.ca
Phone: (+1) 780-492-5461

Dawit Shibiru (Undergraduate student): I am currently a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta. My academic interests include sustainability, animal behaviour, and ecosystem ecology, and I am deeply passionate about delving deeper into these fields. This summer, my focus lies in understanding the impact of the cyanobacterial toxin Microcystin-LR on honey bee health and foraging behaviour. In the future, I am eager to expand my scope to include larger animals or other insect species. Beyond academics and research, I enjoy reading, thrifting, and spending time with my cat, Siquar!
Alyssa Turnbull (Research technician)
Yosef Hamba Tola (Postdoc): I am a NRC Postdoctoral Research Scholar hosted in the Tarpy Lab at North Carolina State University, working with Dr. David Tarpy, Dr. Olav Rueppell and Dr. Micheline Strand. I received my B.Sc. in Biology (Dire Dawa University, Ethiopia, 2011); M.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (PAUSTI-JKUAT, joint degree, Kenya, 2014) and Ph.D. in Genetics (University of Pretoria, South Africa, 2021).I am interested in investigating the degree to which the beneficial bacteria in the honey
bee system are linked to colony health. I plan to use this information to identify bacteria with a “probiotic” beneficial effect on bee immunity against major honey bee pathogens and environmental stressors thus identifying a promising tool for bee
health improvement. Prior to starting my postdoctoral research, I served as a research assistant in Animal Health Theme (Jun. 2021 – Feb. 2022) and PhD research fellow in Environmental Health Theme (Jun. 2017-Sep. 2021) at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya. My previous work contributed to
uncovering hidden diversity and host-specific microbiomes of bees from sub-Saharan-African regions, and revealing an important and unexplored universe of bacterial symbionts, and pathogens associated with black soldier fly and tick species. I also worked on indigenous rhizobia for inoculum production in Ethiopia and Kenya, when I was a research fellow at the Africa-ai-Japan Project-JICA (Dec. 2014-Jun. 2017) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture-IITA (Jan. 2013-Nov. 2014) in Kenya. In parallel, during my research fellowship sponsored by Asia Africa Science Platform Program (AASPP) in Okayama University, IPSR in Japan (2015), I developed the first bacterial chemotaxis fishing method used to screen and enriched environmental chemotactic bacteria using a glass capillary. For more on information on my work, please check my GoogleScholar.
Gursimran Toor (MSc student): After having finished my Bachelor’s of Science with a specialization in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Alberta, I knew that I wanted to further pursue academia. My education during my undergraduate degree served to increase my interest in molecular biology and genetics as a whole — the focus of my graduate work. I’m currently working on genomics studies focused on elucidating the relationship between stress tolerance and the transition of honey bees between worker castes on the molecular level. Outside of the lab, I am an amateur gardener, and an avid sports fan.
Alexander Walton (Postdoc): I have been studying the biology of social insects for over a decade, beginning with my undergraduate work on Temnothorax ant collective behavior and bumblebee task specialization at The University of Arizona (under the guidance of Professor Anna Dornhaus). After graduating, I worked as a laboratory assistant to Dr. Vanessa Corby-Harris and Dr. Kirk Anderson at the USDA-ARS Carl Hayden Honey Bee Research Lab, where Apis mellifera left its indelible mark on me and I decided I wanted to study honey bees for the rest of my life. I completed my PhD in Professor Amy Toth’s Lab at Iowa State University, where I used honey bees and paper wasps (Polistes fuscatus) to examine the role of nutrition in the regulation of individual variation in social behavior. My dissertation is entitled “Individuality in the Hive: Behavioral variation and its proximal causes in insect societies.” I continued to research paper
wasps during my postdoc (co-advises by Professor Toth at Iowa State University and Michael Sheehan at Cornell University), where I worked to develop functional genomics tools for the study of Polistes fuscatus. I am broadly interested in the causes and consequences of behavioral
variation in social groups, and the evolution and maintenance of cooperation. Visit my
GoogleScholar.
Prabashi Wickramasinghe (MSc student): I earned my Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Immunology and Molecular Biology from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. After graduation, I worked for two years in Sri Lanka as a Temporary Assistant Lecture at the University of Colombo and as a Teaching Assistant at the SLTC Research University. My undergraduate project in constructing a bio-engineered E. coli for biotransformation of alkanes, under the supervision of Professor Dr. Inoka C. Perera, made me further realize my
enthusiasm in studying the wonders of the molecular world, my fascination in exploring the dynamic assemblies of macromolecules and mysterious molecular pathways sustaining fundamental cellular processes in all forms of life.
I am very excited to be working in the world of honey bees and their viruses in Dr. Reuppell’s lab as a Graduate Research Student. I aim at understanding molecular mechanisms of pathogenicity
in viruses infecting honey bees and mechanisms that mediate antiviral immunity in honey bees. These studies will help us better understand honey bee biology, insect immunity, and the evolution of virulence.
I hope to pursue a career in academia and take great joy in teaching and interacting with students as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Alberta.
Breana Yim (Undergraduate student)
Mingcong Zeng (Undergraduate student): I am currently a second-year undergraduate
student at Lanzhou University in China, majoring in biological sciences. I am thrilled
to have the opportunity to join the Rueppell Lab as a summer intern and am grateful
for the funding provided by China Scholarship Council. I am passionate in the
research field of virology with an aspiration to promote human and animal health.
This summer, my focus will be on studying the honeybee virus transmission across
social networks, with the goal of expanding my knowledge and enhancing my
experimental skills. In my free time, I enjoy chatting and traveling with my family
and friends.
Xufeng Zhang (Visiting scholar): I worked at the Shanxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences as an assistant researcher from 2012 to 2019. After Shanxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Shanxi Agricultural University merged and I received my PhD degree from the Institute of Apicultural Research at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in 2020, I have become an associate professor of Shanxi Agricultural University. My research focuses on honeybee pollination and honeybee biology. I deeply love bees and my job. I firmly believe that small bees can lead to big things. I am very
glad to have the opportunity to be a visiting scholar of Rueppell lab for 2023/24.

Past Graduate Lab Members:

Jennifer Hofmeyr: Research support for many projects as lab manager (2021 – 2024). Now working as Wildlife Disease Technician for the Government of Alberta.
Thais Pimenta Ferreira: “Development of novel Varroacides”  (research technician: 2023 – 2024).
Prashant Waiker: “Recombination rate and genome evolution in social insects”  (PhD: 2017 – 2022). Now working in the biotech industry.
Kaira Wagoner: “An Investigation of the Relationships Between Common Stressors, Brood-Signaling, Hygienic Behavior, and Selective Breeding in the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)” (PhD: 2011-2015), then postdoc (2015 – 2021). Now working as a researcher at UNCG and co-founder or Optera.
Esmaeil Amiri: “Honey bee virus studies” and many other topics (postdoc: 2015 – 2021), now Assistant Research/Extension Professor at Mississippi State University
Phoebe Snyder: “The impact of honey bee (Apis mellifera) group size on hygienic behavior performance” (MSc: 2018-2020), now working in the honey bee industry and co-founder of Optera.
Carlos Vega Melendez: “Effects of early developmental stress in Apis mellifera” (PhD: 2013 – 2019), moved to USDA , and now working in the bioinformatic industry.
Shilpi Bhatia Shilpi Bhatia: “Genetic architecture of honey bee virus susceptibility” (PhD incomplete: 2017 – 2019)
Anissa Kennedy: “Increased Stress Resistance in Socially Manipulated Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Workers” (MSc: 2016 – 2018), then PhD student in Mainz, Germany.
Taylor Reams: “Examining the Factors Influencing Varroa destructor Host Selection of Apis mellifera Larvae” (MSc: 2016 – 2018), now postdoc at WSU.
Hongmei Li-Byarlay: “Genomic studies of stress resistance in honey bees” (NCSU-affiliated postdoc: 2014 – 2017), now Assistant Professor at Central State University
Bertrand Fouks: “Genomic studies of recombination and aging in honey bees” (2014 – 2015), now postdoc at the University of Munster, Germany.
Wendy Zuluaga Smith: “Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus in Apis mellifera queens: Impact on colony role, transmission routes, and immune priming” (MSc: 2014 – 2016), now working at LabCorp.
Katelyn Miller: “Construction and Fine-Scale Analysis of a High-Density, Genome-Wide Linkage Map to Examine Meiotic Recombination in the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera” (MSc: 2012 – 2014), now postdoc at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Ming Huang: “Genetics of oxidative stress resistance in honey bees” (NCSU-affiliated postdoc: 2012 – 2014), now working at Eurofins.
Kurt Langberg: “Testing the Effects of Oxidative Stress on Genomic Recombination in the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera.” (MSc: 2012 – 2014), now working at the University of Virginia.
Humberto Freire Boncristiani: “Functional genomics of IAPV infection in honey bees” (Postdoc: 2011 – 2013), now working at the University of Florida.
Ryan Kuster: “Expression Levels of Immune-genes in Developing Workers of Apis mellifera in Response to Reproductive Timing and Infestation Level by the Parasitic Mite Varroa destructor.” (MSc: 2010 – 2012), undergraduate (2009), now working at the University of Tennessee.
Mike Simone-Finstroem: “Honey bee stress and aging” (NCSU-affiliated postdoc: 2011 – 2012), now working at the USDA ARS Honey Bee Lab in Baton Rouge.
Cordelia Forkpah (Sackey-Mensah): “The Effect of Xenobiotics on the Honeybee Adult Intestinal Stem Cell Proliferation.” (MSc: 2009 – 2012), now working at the University of Rochester.
Laura Tucker (Willard): “Development and Analysis of Primary Cultures from the Midgut of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera.” (MSc: 2008 – 2012), DVM in Minnesota.
Emily McLean (Meznar): “Genomic Synteny and Comparison of Recombination between A. mellifera (the European Honey Bee) and A. florea (the Red Dwarf Honey Bee).” (MSc: 2007 – 2009), now Assistant Professor at Emory University.
Allie Graham: “The Genetic Architecture of Reproductive Differences in Workers of Africanized and European Honey Bees, Apis mellifera.” (MSc: 2007 – 2009), now postdoctoral researcher at the University of Utah.
Kristen Ward: “A Study of Cellular Proliferation and Apoptosis in Short- and Long-lived Honey Bees, Apis mellifera.  ” (MSc: 2004 – 2006), Physician at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital.

 

Past Undergraduate Lab Members:

Kaitlin Kinahan (2022-2023)

Kayla De Jong (2021-2024)

Alberta Apicultural Inspector

Nick Krys (2023)

Tianna Tanasichuck (2021-2024)

Private Industry

Heather Anderson (2023-2024)

Graduate School (Univ. of Alberta)

Bogdan Cojocaru-Marian (2021-2023)

Medical School (Italy)

Jocelyn Chui  (2023)

Cleo Randall  (2021-2022)

Akanksha Yeola (2021-2022)

Jaymie Martin (2021)

Technician (Univ. of Alberta)

Hunter Haeberle (2022)

Luke Nelson   (2022)

Graduate School (Univ. of Alberta)

Bethany Carswell (2019-2021)

Veterinary School (University of Illinois)

Asia Brannon (2018-2020)

Medical School (UNC Chapel-Hill)

Cristian Hernandez (2019 – 2020)

Health Care Professional

Jackson Keever (2020)

Anh Pham (2019 – 2020)

Dental School (University of Detroit)

Emily Jordon (2019)

Medical School (University of West Virginia)

Shaun Pitts (2019 – 2020)

Medical School (Campbell University)

Sarah Krug (2018 – 2019)

Tatiana Molina-Morales (2018 – 2019)

Medical School (Colombia)

Kali Cox (2018 – 2019)

Matthew Hill (2019)

Graduate School (NC A&T University)

Spencer Moore (2019)

Graduate School (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Maya Brody (2019)

Industry

Kevin Le (2017-2018)

Kimberlyn Eversman (2018)

Graduate School (University of Tennessee Knoxville)

Mohamad Omar Ani (2018)

Medical School (University of Pennsylvania)

Katherine Barrs (2018)

Zea Robinson (2018)

Max McCall (2017 – 2018)

Medical School (University of Central Florida)

Saman Baral (2017 – 2018, Honors Thesis)

Graduate School (Emery University)

 Eden Simmons (2018)

Foray Keita (2017 – 2018)

 Mustafa Noori (2016 – 2017)

Samyra Blackeney (2017)

Erin Estes (2017)

 Christopher Reid (2017)

Mark Rothermund (2017)

Franco Abad (2017)

 Antron Spooner (2017)

Medical School (Howard University)

 Talia Heckman (2016)

 Timothy Delory (2016)

Graduate School (Utah State University)

 Karen Funderburk (2016 – 2017)

Graduate School (Arizona State University)

 Katherina Santiago (2016)

 Sherry Browne (2016)

MRes in Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine

 Sara Rubio-Correa (2015 – 2017)

Graduate School (UNC-Chapel-Hill)

 Heeral Lakhani (2015 – 2016)

  Greg Seddon (2015 – 2016)

Industry

 Chelsea MaLyn Lawhorn (2015), left

Graduate School (NCSU)

 Rachel Schomaker (2015), right

Graduate School (University of South Carolina)

 Tinaye Mutetwa (2015 – 2017, Honors thesis)

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

 Samantha McPherson (2015)

Graduate School (NCSU)

 Basema Khan (2014)

 Ashley LaVere (2014)

Graduate School (University of Georgia)

 Quinton Irby (2014 – 2015)

 Eli Thompson (2014)

 Jasmine Everett (2014)

 Daniel Smith (2013 – 2015), left

Industry

 Juan Collazo (2013 – 2015), right

Research Specialist (Duke Clinical Research Institute)

Babak Yousefi (2013 – 2016, Honors thesis)

Dental School (UNC Chapel-Hill)

Caitlin Ross (2012 – 2014)

Graduate School (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

 Tiffany Fowler (2012 – 2016)

High School Teacher

 Matthew Phillips (2012 – 2015)

Graduate School (University of Delaware)

 Francisco Belinchon (2012 – 2013)

Graduate School (University of Glasgow)

 Kayla Jackson (2012)

 Candice Harrison (2011)

 Bobbee Vannasane (2011 – 2013)

UNC Dental School

 Dominick DeFelice (2011 – 2014, Honors thesis)

Medical School (UNC Chapel-Hill)

 Tara McCray (2011)

Graduate School (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Stephen Meier (2010)

 Dawit Adnew (2009)

 Luke Dixon (2009 – 2012)

High Point University

 Ellen Lonon (2009)

   Michelle McQuage (2009)

 Nicholas Arvanitis (2009)

 Danielle Lucas (2009 – 2010)

Graduate School (NCSU)

Stephen Brown (2009)

 Nathan Ross (2008)

High School Teacher

 Ashley Hayes (2008 – 2009)

Graduate School (UNC-Wilmington)

Matthew Whilhelm (2007)

Graduate School (University of Connecticut)

 Kaitlin Clinnin (2007 – 2008)

 Javier Luzon (2007 – 2008)

National Institutes of Health

 Miranda Hayworth (2007 – 2008)

MD-PhD Program (Georgia)

Robert Gove (2007)

Graduate School (University of Maryland)

 Megan Leagon (2007)

 Nels Johnson (2007)

Graduate School (Virginia Tech)

 Lauren Groves (2006 – 2007)

Medical School (Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine)

 Michael Munday (2006 – 2009, Honor thesis)

Veterinary Technician

 Jennifer Coleman (2006 – 2008, Honor thesis)

Research Technician (UNC Chapel-Hill)

 Megan Wallrichs (2006 – 2008, Honor thesis)

Graduate School (Delaware State)

Kari Fine (2005 – 2006)

Vet-MD School (University of Georgia)

 Dominique Buehler (2005 – 2006)

Graduate School (Switzerland)

 Anny Pena (2005 – 2006)

 Akuabata Kerns (2005 – 2006)

Preston Gardner (2005 – 2006)

Medical School (West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine)

 Caroline Mulcrone (2005)

Pharmacy School (Ohio)

Robyn Douglas (2004)

High School Teacher

 Oumar Seck (2003 – 2005)

Industry

 Rex Kirkman (2003 – 2004)