Prof. Carla J. Essenberg
I took an indirect route to becoming an ecologist. Although I had always enjoyed science, I majored in two other subjects I loved, music and philosophy, and only returned to biology after I graduated from college. I was drawn to ecology both because of the beauty of living things and because I believed that ecological research was important.
I hoped, through my work, to make it easier for people to live fulfilling lives without cheating their neighbors and descendants of the natural resources needed to live well. Pollination ecology attracted me for similar reasons: pollination is vital both to natural ecosystems and to our food system, and I find flowers and bees endlessly fascinating.
My research focuses on understanding the mutualism between plants and pollinators and exploring the effects of that mutualism on interactions between plant species. You can read about my current research elsewhere on this website, so I won’t say more about it here. Past projects have included studying the effects of flower density on flower visitation, exploring how bees decide when to leave patches of flowers, and investigating how bees respond to flower size cues. You can see a complete list of my publications in my curriculum vitae.
Current lab members
|Emma Katz (class of ’17), Summer research in 2016, Fall 2016 Thesis
Project title: The effect of floral dispersion on pollination of deceptive plants: a laboratory test
|Nate Diplock (class of ’17), Summer research in 2016, Fall 2016 Thesis
Project title: The role of native plants in pollinator-friendly gardens
|Celine Pichette (class of ’17), Summer research in 2016, Fall 2016 Thesis
Project title: Bee communities and bee-plant associations at Kenauk
|Johnathan Neufeld (class of ’17), Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 Thesis
Project title: Caffeine and bumblebee memory
|Paige Guevarra (class of ’18), Summer research in 2016
Project title: Floral reward cues and the plants’ dilemma
|Xiaomeng Wang (class of ’19), Summer research in 2016
Project title: A laboratory test of the magnet species effect on floral attractiveness
Colin McIntire (class of ’16), Fall 2015 Seminar and Research project, Winter 2016 Thesis
Thesis title: Does the presence of a showy plant species increase flower visitation by bumblebees, facilitating the pollination of more cryptic, sympatric species?
Talia Zisman (class of ’16), Fall 2015 Seminar and Research project
Project title: Larger inflorescences could augment pollinator attraction but encourage intra-inflorescence foraging
Cody Jordan (class of ’16), Fall 2015 Seminar and Research project
Project title: The plant’s dilemma and floral size cues
Claire Bartell (class of ’16), Fall 2015 Seminar and Research project
Project title: Examining the role of light intensity and inflorescence density on flower choice in bumble bees (Bombus impatiens)