Alan Ritchie, Advanced M.S. Student
B.S. 2013, The University of Texas at Austin--Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
I am studying plant-pollinator interactions in remnant and restored prairie communities, and am interested in the pollination efficiency, foraging habits, and nutritional ecology of native bees.
They've been here much, much longer than hominids have, and are hugely successful. They occupy practically every habitat imaginable, are the most diverse group of animals, and are integral to the biosphere of our plant. Yet despite their importance, ubiquity, and rich history, we often overlook or have an outright disdain for them. By studying insects and promoting a greater understanding of their ecology and behavior, I hope to inspire greater public appreciation for these amazing creatures.
Why University of Minnesota?
It felt like a welcoming place with tons of resources! The Entomology Department and Bee Lab do an amazing job of engaging the public through outreach, and house an awesome group of researchers. My favorite thing about UMN is the bicycle friendliness and all of the trees!
I'd like to continue researching pollinator conservation and mutualistic interactions in some capacity. I would also like to get involved in education or teaching.
I'm partial to bees, but there's way too many fascinating species. My favorite genera are probably Bombus and Megachile, because they're very charismatic and engaging. Dung beetles are another favorite, because they're tenacious and always look like they're having a ball.
I like to stay active via cycling, weightlifting, and hiking. I also like singing to our dog and cat (they enjoy selections from Les Misérables), making homemade pizza, trying new foods, reading, and camping.
Coffee or tea?
I have an inordinate fondness for coffee.