A free public lecture titled "The Global Pollinator Crisis" will take place at 11 a.m. on Jan. 28, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The speaker will be Christina Grozinger, associate professor of entomology at Penn State and the director of the Penn State Center for Pollinator Research.
The event is the second of six lectures in the 2012 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a free minicourse for the general public with the theme "Food: Strategies for Growing Enough for Everyone." No registration is required. The lectures take place on consecutive Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. in 100 Thomas Building.
In her lecture, Grozinger will explain the importance of pollinators such as bees to agricultural production. She also will describe the global declines in pollinator populations that have been documented in recent years and this decline's many causes, which include pesticides, parasites, viruses, reduced genetic diversity, poor management practices of managed pollinator populations, and habitat destruction. She will highlight ongoing research at Penn State, where scientists are seeking to better understand the impacts of these factors on pollinator health, and to find solutions that could be implemented locally, nationally, and globally. Examples of these possible solutions include the Pennsylvania Queen Breeding Program, which is an effort to develop locally-adapted disease-resistant bee stocks, and a large multi-collaborator project to address the health of honey-bee populations in Kenya.
Grozinger's research focus is on the genetic mechanisms that regulate social behavior and behavioral responses to infection and parasites in social insects, such as honey bees, bumble bees, fire ants, and wasps. Her work is highly interdisciplinary, spanning behavioral ecology, chemical ecology, physiology, neurobiology, and genomics. She has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and many beekeeper organizations. Grozinger has published over 40 peer-reviewed research publications in journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Nature Genetics Reviews, BMC Genomics, BMC Evolutionary Biology, the Journal of Chemical Ecology, Animal Behavior, and Behavioral Ecology. In addition, she has contributed book chapters to The Hive and the Honey Bee, the Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, and Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology.
Grozinger has received national and international recognition for her research. She has presented over 35 invited seminar or symposia lectures in the last five years, including plenary and keynote lectures at the 2010 Congress of the International Society for the Study of Social Insects in Denmark and the 2011 International Society for the Study of Chemical Ecology conference in Vancouver, Canada. She has received the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award and the Penn State Harbaugh Faculty Scholars Program Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, among other awards.
Grozinger has been very active in raising awareness about pollinator issues. In 2010, she co-organized the first International Conference on Pollinator Biology and Health at Penn State, which brought together over 200 participants from 15 countries. In 2011, she co-organized the second Honey Bee Genomics and Biology conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Honey Bee RNAi and Functional Genomics Short Course and Symposium at Penn State, and the first Annual Queen Rearing Short Course, which helped facilitate local bee-breeding efforts.
Grozinger received her bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology at McGill University in 1997. She received a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship for her graduate work in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, where she received her master's and doctoral degrees in 1999 and 2001, respectively. Grozinger was awarded a Beckman Institute Fellowship for her post-doctoral studies with Gene Robinson at the University of Illinois. In 2004, she joined the faculty at North Carolina State University as an assistant professor of insect genomics. In 2008, she joined the Department of Entomology at Penn State.