People

Principal Investigators

Dr. Walter (Steve) Sheppard

Honey bee genetics and evolution, honey bee breeding colony health research, gene diversity, and honey bee germplasm acquisition.

(he/him/his)
shepp@wsu.edu
More about Dr. Sheppard

Dr. Brandon Hopkins

Honey bee reproductive biology, germplasm collection and cryopreservation, research apiary and diagnostic laboratory oversight, field research.

(he/him/his)
bhopkins@wsu.edu
Hopkins Lab

Dr. Nick Naeger

Nick is a molecular biologist who has been studying bees for over two decades. His research focuses on understanding the effect of pathogens on bee health and finding innovative ways to help bees fight these diseases. This includes investigating how viruses interact with diet and nutrition to impact the immune system of bees and their overall health. His research group is working to develop fungal-based nutritional supplements for bees and fungal biocontrol agents against Varroa mites.

(he/him/his)
nick.naeger@wsu.edu

Dr. Jennifer Han

Microbial biopesticides are safer alternatives to chemical pesticides. However, they are susceptible to a variety of environmental factors that limit their use including temperature, humidity, and UV. Jennifer’s research is focused on developing fungal biopesticides, specifically breeding a fungal biocontrol agent against the Varroa mite and exploring fungal and botanical based solutions to honey bee nutrition and overall health.

(she/her/hers)
jennifer.o.han@wsu.edu
More about Dr. Han

Dr. Kelly Kulhanek

Kelly  completed her Ph.D. in Entomology in Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp’s Bee Lab at the University of Maryland. She joined the WSU Bee Program as a postdoctoral researcher in 2020 and recently began a new role as Assistant Professor. She plans to build a program based on regular communication with Washington stakeholders, and to address needs such as locally specific best practices for bee management and crop pollination, and extension programs that will put the latest research into the hands of stakeholders.  

(she/her/hers)
kelly.kulhanek@wsu.edu

Faculty & Staff

CAHNRS Bee Tour and Dan Bernardo Bee Beard

Susan Cobey

Sue is world renowned for her expertise on honey bee reproductive biology and instrumental insemination. She has trained honey bee researchers and queen breeders from all over the globe in cutting edge reproductive techniques and is part of the WSU germplasm collection and honey bee breeding effort.

(she/her/hers)
 s.cobey@wsu.edu

Westley Hester

Westley is the apiary manger for the Honey Bee & Pollinator Research, Extension and Education Facility in Othello, WA. Born and raised in Athens, Georgia, Westley graduated from UGA with a BS in forestry and natural resources. He has a background in construction, silviculture, nursery managment, forest hydrology, general horticulture, field ecology, and apiculture. 

(he/him/his)
westley.hester@wsu.edu

Postdoctoral Research Faculty

Dr. Rae Olsson

Rae has their B.A. and B.Sc. from Evergreen State College and received their PhD in Entomology from WSU in 2020 studying plant-pollinator communities and interactions.  They are currently working on generating tools for beekeepers to monitor colony health and predicting colony success in a variety of landscapes and floral resource areas.

(they/them/theirs)
Twitter: @RLOlsson

Dr. Ge Zhang

Ge has been beekeeping and studying bees for the past ten years. He received his Phd from Iowa State University and completed his first post-doc project at New Mexico State University.  He is now studying how honey bee health is affected when they are moved from California to Washington State for pollinating specialty crops such as almond, blueberry, apple and canola.

(he/him/his)
ge.zhang1@wsu.edu

Graduate Students

Kiersten Ritchie

Kiersten Ritchie is a PhD candidate in Dr. Sheppard’s lab.  She is interested in pollinators, agriculture, and honey bee reproductive biology.  Her research centers around differential sperm use by honey bee queens of different subspecies.  Kiersten received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Washington where she took an entomology course that sparked her passion for honey bees and all insects.

(she/her/hers)

Riley Reed

Riley caught his first swarm during his junior year of high school and was immediately hooked. He completed his B.Sc. from WSU while working as a technical assistant in the honey bee program. He is pursuing a PhD under the direction of Dr. Brandon Hopkins.  His research interests include Varroa and beekeeping management and improving pollinator forage.

(he/him/his)

Adam Ware

Adam spent several years working as a commercial beekeeper before joining the graduate program at WSU. His research interests pertain to sustainable and integrative methods in agricultural management with emphasis in queen breeding and honey bee health. He is currently a master’s student working with Dr. Naeger and Dr. Sheppard.

(he/him/his)

Dan Reynolds

Dan’s interest in honey bees began as a lab and program manager for the Bee Informed Partnership in Maryland. He began his career at WSU as the Pullman bee program manager in 2020 and has since transitioned to be a master’s student under the direction of Dr. Naeger and Dr. Sheppard.

(he/him/his)

Sam Dilday

Sam’s fascination with honey bees began in 2016 while volunteering at her local nature center where an indoor observation hive sparked her interest in these tiny wonders. Graduating from George Mason University with a B.Sc. in Biology, she went on to travel to Newfoundland, Canada. There she studied the isolated, Varroa free honey bee populations of the Island and earned her M.Sc. in Environmental Sciences. She is pursuing her PhD under the direction of Dr. Brandon Hopkins.

(she/her/hers)

Undergraduate Students

Molly Quade

Molly is studying Agriculture Education at Washington State University. She works with the WSU honey bee program assisting with research projects and general colony maintenance.  Molly loves working with natural resources and hopes to teach at a high school after graduating from WSU.

(she/her/hers)

Sam Weiland

Sam Weiland is studying Plant Biology at WSU and wishes to pursue a career in mycology. He is involved in research on honeybee interaction with specialized crops and loves working hands-on with the bees. 

(he/him/his)

Megan Pyle

Megan has been a Pullman resident for over a decade and will start her Freshman year at WSU Fall 2022 pursuing a degree in Fruit & Vegetable management. She is helping the WSU honey bee program with field work this summer, as well as the local nonprofit Backyard Harvest with the Pullman and Moscow Farmer’s Markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. She’s interested in permaculture and sustainability, and hopes to keep honey bees herself someday.

(she/her/hers)

Erik Nelson

Erik Nelson is studying Biology with a pre-medicine track at WSU. He is helping with field work, general colony maintenance, and assisting with research projects in the lab. He loves working with the bees and hopes to keep bees in the future!

(he/him/his)

Jose Perez-Olmos

Jose Perez-Olmos is studying Viticulture and Enology and wishes to someday be a world-famous sommelier or cellar master. He helps the WSU honeybee program with field work and general colony maintenance. During the school year Jose is a student manager at Northside Cafe, an active member in WSU’s MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences) chapter and serves as the CAHNRS Student Senate Treasurer.  

(he/him/his)

Sam Johnston

Sam is currently majoring in Entomology at the University of Idaho. He hopes to finish by spring 2023. Sam is a member of the Aldrich Entomology Club as well as the Georgia Entomological Society.  

(he/him/his)