Morgan Carr-Markell, Ph.D. Candidate
B.A. in Biological Sciences; Wellesley College (2010)
M.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2013)
I am studying how honey bees forage in and around restored native prairies to provide information for future
bee-friendly prairie restoration projects. I collect pollen and honey from colonies in or near large, restored
prairies. I then examine the pollen under the microscope to determine what species it came from. With that
information, I can tell roughly how much of a colony's diet comes from native prairie flowers. I also videotape
waggle dance communications between honey bee foragers about where the best patches of flowers are. By
decoding and mapping these dances, I can tell how many of their favorite sites are in prairies and what other
places they find high quality food sources.
I have to admit that I would never have realized how cool insects are if I hadn't first fallen in love with honey
bees. In order to understand bees better, I have learned a lot about the amazing traits of insects in general. They
approach many of the same problems we do in completely different ways, from having their structural support
on the outside of their bodies to having completely separate systems for distributing oxygen and nutrients.
They're also incredibly diverse and provide great models to study all sorts of questions.
Why University of Minnesota? What is your favorite thing about UMN?
I work in a really great lab! My advisor is so supportive and gives great advice. Gary (apicultural technician) is a
wizard. My labmates are all passionate about what they do and happy to work together on projects. I am also
very impressed by the smart, motivated undergrads that work in the lab. It's a fun place to do research.
Ideally, I would like to continue research on honey bee foraging behavior, and I hope to teach classes and
mentor research students.
The western honey bee, Apis mellifera, although there are lots of other cool bees, and leafcutter ants are pretty
I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy, especially books by Ursula LeGuin, I play the cello, I have a cat, and I
keep bees in my back yard.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea (black, preferably spiced)