Welcome to the Nieh Lab

Lab Members

pictureJames Nieh, Professor of Biological Sciences & Associate Dean of Biological Sciences

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James Nieh is interested in the evolution of communication in social bees and factors that influence honey bee health. He focuses on the proximate mechanisms involved in foraging, food alertment, and recruitment in the social bees (Bombini, Apini, and Meliponini). His goal is develop a greater understanding how such foraging systems work and what selective pressures have shaped the evolution of foraging communication. His second major focus is on the effects of pesticides and pathogens on honey bee behavior and health.

pictureAshley Kim, PhD Candidate
2020 to current

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Ashley is interested in how honey bee can adapt to changing daily food availability and is focusing on the shaking signal, a signal that may regulate daily colony activity.

pictureAria Loduca, MS
2020 to current


Aria is studying how omega-3 fatty acids, essential nutrients for bees, can improve honey bee survival and olfactory learning, after bees are exposed to sublethal doses of pesticides. Aria earned her MS in the lab in December 2021.

Former Lab Members

pictureKevin Kubo, BSMS candidate
2021 to 2022


Kevin studied the efficacy of a light-based treatment for bees exposed to pesticides.

pictureAnngely Leeds, BSMS candidate
2021 to 2022


Anngely studied heat and cold tolerance of feral and managed honey bees in Southern California.

pictureBrandon Mukogawa, BSMS candidate
2021 to 2022


Brandon studied the hygienic behavior in feral and managed honey bees in Southern California, focused on how feral colonies can thrive despite being given no treatments against a major parasite, Varroa destructor.

pictureAmy Geffre, MS
2018 to 2021

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Amy studied honey bee viruses and the health of Africanized and managed honey bees.

pictureHeather C. Bell, Postdoctoral Fellow & Staff Research Associate
2013 to 2018

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Heather Bell studied properties of dyadic social interactions in a variety of species during her PhD in Canada, and is now studying honey bee inhibitory communication to better understand how inhibitory signaling shapes colony dynamics.

pictureSimone Tosi, Postdoctoral Fellow & Visiting Scholar
2016 to 2019


Simone is interested in the effects of multiple factors on bee health, focusing on the role of pesticides, nutrition, Nosema, and their interactions. He studied how environmental stressors affect honey and solitary bee survival and behaviours, including flight, locomotion, phototaxis, thermoregulation, and energy levels. Dr. Tosi is currently a faculty member at the University of Turin.

pictureEdmund Lau, Master's Candidate
2018 to 2020


Edmund studied the effects of Nosema ceranae infection on the honey bee microbiome, focusing on the effects of colony background on bee mortality and infection levels.

pictureBahram Kheradmand, PhD Candidate
2014 to 2019

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Bahram studied how honey bees use landmarks and distance estimation to find food sources and how honey bees are capable of sophisticated sequence learning, a form of statistical learning.

pictureJoshua Ludicke, MS
2018 to 2019


Joshua studied honey bee visual learning.

pictureHarmen P. Hendriksma, Staff Research Associate
2016 to 2019


Harmen is interested in studying honey bee health, with emphases on nutrition and natural compounds that can enhance bee defenses against infection.

pictureAndrey Rubanov, MS Candidate
2016 to 2017


Andrey studied how immune priming provides protection against Nosema infection in adult bees and the effects of Nosema infection on the honey bee gut microbiome.

pictureLinda Tong, MS Candidate
2016 to 2017


Linda studied the effects of pesticides on honey bee flight ability.

pictureAlex Neskovic, Master's Candidate


Alex studied ways to boost honey bee immunity against infections by the pathogen, Nosema ceranae.

pictureLindsay Goldasich, MS
2015 to 2016


Lindsay studied how the neonicotinoid pesticide, imidacloprid, affects the ability of honey bees to avoid predation. She is interested in the broader implications of how xenobiotics affect the food web by cognitively impairing the decisions of prey.

pictureJennifer Hayward, MS


Jennifer studied the effects of pesticides on honey bee nectar foraging and recruitment behavior.

pictureChase James, MS Candidate
2011 to 2016


Chase tested the toxic pheromone hypothesis, focusing on how a potentially toxic pheromone may provide a honest signal of fighting superiority in the obligate cleptoparasitic Lestrimelitta nitkib.

pictureAggelina Kanellopoulous, Master's Candidate


Aggelina studied the effects of pesticide on honey bee phototaxis and locomotion.

pictureErica Zhang, Master's Candidate
2012 to 2014


Erica studied the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honey bee learning.

pictureMatt Endler, Master's Candidate
2012 to 2014


Matt studied how honey bee larvae can be infected with Nosema ceranae and how honey bee immune systems can be activated to resist such infection.

pictureAntoine Lecocq, Phd candidate visiting from the University of Copenhagen


Antoine studied the effect of Nosema ceranae infection on honey bee social behaviors.

pictureLee BenVau, Master's Candidate
2011 to 2013


Lee studied the links between an egg precusor protein, vitellogenin, which is associated with honey bee longevity, health, and immune function and the ability of bees to resist pollutants such as pesticides.

pictureSpencer Huey, Master's Candidate
2011 to 2013


Spencer has been a Master's student in the Nieh Lab since 2011. He studied how honey bees and native bee pollinators respond to insect and spider predators.

pictureAllison Bray, Master's Candidate
2011 to 2013


Allison has been a Master's student in the Nieh Lab since 2011. Her work examined how honey bees detect and avoid predators while foraging on flowers.

pictureKyle Burks, Independent Researcher
2009 to 2013


Since 2009, Kyle studied the function of bumble bee labial gland secretions inside and outside the nest. Labial glads secretions play an important role in stingless bee recruitment, but its function in bumble bees is not known.

pictureDaren Eiri, MS, Independent Researcher
2007 to 2013

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Daren Eiri has been involved in the lab since 2007 and originally worked on bumble bee acoustic recruitment. His Master's research focused on the sublethal effects the pesticide, imidacloprid, on honey bee foraging behavior. Daren graduated from UCSD in 2009 with a B.S. in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution and received his Master's in Biology in 2011. He also studied how Nosema infection affects the development of honey bee larvae.

pictureMeg Eckles, PhD Candidate
2004 to 2012

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Meg joined the lab in 2004 while she was an undergraduate, and began UCSD's PhD program in 2005. Her work focuses on cognition in bumblebees, how stingless bee use optic flow to measure distance and height, and testing functionally referential communication in the stingless bee Melipona panamica. Her previous work has included behavioral thermoregulation in yellowjackets (Vespula pennsylvanica). Her general research interests include cognition, learning and behavioral ecology of wasps and stingless bees. Meg graduated from UCSD in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Systems: Ecology, Behavior and Evolution. She received her PhD from the Division of Biological Sciences at UCSD in 2012. In 2016, Meg became an Assistant Professor of Biology and the Director of Biotechnology at Southwestern College.

pictureEben Goodale, Visiting Scholar

2004 to 2012

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Eben joined the lab in 2010 as an ornithologist excited about the possibilities of working with social insects. Eben's research focuses on interspecific communication and its effect on community ecology. His past work has focused on alarm calling and vocal mimicry in mixed-species bird flocks, mostly in Sri Lanka. In the Nieh lab, Eben focused on interspecific information exchange about foraging between honey bees and bumble bees. In 2012, he began a new faculty position in China. For more details see his website.

pictureRalph Tyler Jack McCollough, MS
2009 to 2012


Tyler was been a Master's student in the Nieh Lab since 2009. He graduated in 2012. His work focused on aversive learning and inhibitory signaling in honey bees and demonstrated that attacks from natural honey bee predators can elicit a signal that inhibits waggle dancing, the stop signal.

pictureBrian Park, MS
2009 to 2012


Brian Park is a former Masters student (graduated in 2012) studying seasonal influences on honey bee foraging in a semi-urban setting to determine what pollen resources, native and introduced, are important to bees throughout the year. He used genetic barcoding of collected pollen to identify the plants visited and the honey bee dance language to determine where bees have foraged.

pictureElinor Lichtenberg, PhD
2005 to 2011

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Elinor joined the Nieh lab in 2005. Her thesis research focuses on use of heterospecific scent marks (olfactory eavesdropping) by stingless bees. General research interests communication, foraging behavior, social information use, aggression and competition. As an undergraduate, Elinor studied a visual communication system in stalk-eyed flies (Cyrtodiopsis whitei) in the lab of Dr. Jerry Wilkinson. Prior to beginning UCSD's PhD program, she participated in an internship at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., seeking to improve captive kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) breeding success through behavioral research. Elinor obtained her Bachelor of Science (Biology: Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics) from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2003.

pictureJessica Hagbery, MS
2009 to 2011


Jessica studied foraging division of labor in bumble bees (Bombus impatiens), focusing on how individuals and colonies adapt to the loss of pollen foraging specialists. She demonstrated that generalist foragers could adaptively shift their preferences and collect significantly more pollen after pollen foraging specialists were removed and showed that these same generalists reverted to their original preferences when pollen specialists were restored.

pictureEduard Deneke, visiting MS student


Eddie studied bumble bee foraging and alarm activation.

pictureBrian Johnson, former Postdoctoral Fellow
2008 to 2009

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Brian is currently a Professor in the Department of Entomology at UC Davis where he uses honey bees as a model system to examine multiple questions in the areas of Behavioral Ecology and Behavioral Genetics.

pictureDan Su, MS
2006 to 2009


Dan studied foraging and alarm activation in the bumble bee, Bombus impatiens.

pictureTraci Kitaoka, MS
2006 to 2008


Traci studied how pollen odor can activate bumble bee pollen foraging.

pictureMichelle Renner, MS
2005 to 2007


Michelle studied bumble bee olfactory information flow and contact based foraging activation.

pictureConstantine Lau, MS
2005 to 2007


Constantine studied the proximate causes of an inhibitory signal, the stop signal, in honey bees.

pictureFelipe Contrera, former Postdoctoral Fellow
2005 to 2006

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Felipe is currently an Associate Professor at the Universidade Federal do Pará in Belém, Brazil, where he studies the highly social bees, focusing on stingless bees as model systems. His research interests include Behavioral Ecology, Animal Communication, and Meliponiculture.

pictureKatherine Mapalad, MS
2004 to 2006


Katherine studied the effect of pollen protein quality on bumble bee thoracic temperatures.

pictureNik Sadler, MS
2003 to 2005

Nik studied the effect of honey bee recruitment motivation on forager thoracic temperatures.

pictureHien Nguyen, MS
2003 to 2005


Hien studied the foraging activation in the bumble bee species, Bombus occidentalis.

James Nieh