Meet the Research Team

Dr. Hartmut Doebel

Professor Doebel is the head of the beekeeping and research team.  Hartmut Doebel started this 2-year old program with a passion for honeybees and beekeeping, which he had learned as a college student in his native Germany.  By partnering with the local restaurant, Founding Farmers, he was able to dive into further research with a focus on honeybee behavior and how diseases and pesticides affect normal bee behavior.  What started as an anchor to get students excited about biology turned into a growing research program to further the knowledge about these widespread and important pollinators.

When Professor Doebel is not working on honeybees and his bee team, he focuses on his research in teaching and learning as well as how to implement active learning techniques into his courses.

Ph.D., University of Maryland, 1996.


Hannah Cox

Hannah was born in Virginia and raised in Vancouver British Columbia.  She grew up active in nature, and found a love for animals large and small.  She gained an early love of science from her father, and it has only grown.

She began beekeeping at GW in fall of 2013, her sophomore year, and quickly grew to love it.  She intends to major in Biology with a minor in Health and Wellness, and has future aspirations of practicing veterinary medicine. She is also on the GW Women’s Water Polo team

Kyle Kurland

Growing up in suburban New Jersey, Kyle has always loved wildlife.  His love of nature led him to the sciences, and sparked his interest in biology.  He loves that working with the bees allows him to reconnect with nature, even in the heart of DC.

Kyle is working toward earning a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a minor in Philosophy, and plans on attending medical school upon graduation from GW.  His research currently entails the development of cell culturing techniques for honeybee cells.  The original cells are obtained from larvae, and are incubated in the lab to promote continual cellular reproduction.  The ultimate goal of Kyle’s research is microbial testing of these cells to see how they respond to and are affected by different bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.  This would be especially useful for Wolbachia, a genus of bacteria which can only grow and reproduce within living cells.  This information would be exceptionally useful in identifying cellular and immunological responses in honeybees, and would help to understand the bees’ overall response to many pathogens.


Brooke Talbot

Brooke grew up bouncing around the country with her rather large family, but currently lives in Newtown, Connecticut. Nevertheless, she has always lived  in her heart in the woods, hiking and tree climbing and getting dirty. Her home nickname is “Bee,” her favorite piece of orchestral music is Flight of the Bumblebee, she’s a honey fanatic, and now it seems only appropriate that she should finally be setting to work with bees and fully appreciate the lessons they have to teach us.

Brooke is working on her Bachelors of Science in Biology and a minor in Public Health at GW. She is fascinated by microbiology and by how foreign and familiar other organisms can be to humans. Her interest in health draws inspiration from nature, and vice versa. The project she is focusing on involves tracking the behavior of Varroa mite, a common pest for honey bees, with the bees to see how mites affect the overall health of the colony. She is also working on tracking the transmission of viruses in a colony which can consequences like Colony Collapse Disorder and a reduction in honey production. Essentially, she would like to be the “bee doctor” in the lab. She will also be taking on the role of bee keeper in addition to her project.

Saveena Veeramoothoo

Growing up in Mauritius, Saveena already knew that she deeply interested in the sciences. She first came into contact with honeybees after taking an introductory biology class with Dr. Doebel. The bees instantly fascinated her.

When the time came to do research for her physics major, she knew that she must do a project involving the bees. Saveena’s research comprises studying the sounds emitted by the bees. Her research is founded on the basis that the bees emit different sounds when healthy as compared to when they are about to suffer from Colony Collapse. Thus, Saveena’s project aims at determining when a Colony Collapse is about to happen based on the sounds they emit. This research will help warn beekeepers of incoming Colony Collapse, which would give them time to take any possible precautionary measures available.

Ricky Zhu

Born in Washington, DC and bred in Vienna, Virginia, I was one of those nerdy kids who loved bringing mealworms home from elementary school and religiously studied that brown-covered Campbell’s 7th ed. of Biology in high school. Thinking that research was mundane and repetitive, I never thought about entering research until I performed protein assays, electrophoresis, and Western Blots in Biology of Proteins as part of the Scholars in Quantitative and Natural Sciences Program. Having worked in construction with my father since middle school, I wanted to improve my manual dexterity and challenge my fear of bees by learning to beekeep with Doebel’s help, YouTube videos, and beekeeping books. I’m happy to have shared my knowledge with and passed the apiary over to Brooke Talbot as I shifted gears from beekeeping to research.

My research encompasses both insect ethology and conservation biology as well as neuroethology and centers on investigations of various commercial and technical-grade neonicotinoid pesticides and herbicides on the sensory perceptions, specifically the coupling of olfactory sense and optical perception, of foragers of the European honeybee Apis mellifera in laboratory and field conditions. With substantial annual loss of honeybee hives worldwide due to CCD, an advanced understanding of the impact of pesticides on honeybee health is needed to shape the practice of beekeeping. Further research direction will focus on foraging success as a factor of waggle dance communication, pollen collection, drone sperm count, queen rearing, and comparison of immune systems between wild-type vs domesticated honeybees.

I am proud to have created the Undergraduate Research Mentored Summer Internship this summer of 2014 to introduce undergraduate Biology majors and minors to honeybee research techniques and concepts, its understated collaboration with beekeeping, and a unique team-based research experience. This summer’s recipients are Mehreen Arif, Ryan Gunnison, Kelvin Lim, and Michael Stover. I also owe special thanks to past researcher Max Kollmer, research assistant Keon Lum, and students from School Without Walls for their contribution.

I currently pursue a major in Biology and minor in Chemistry at GWU, aspire to attend Dental School, and hope to keep bees after academia.


Past Researchers:

Katherine Berry, 2012-2014

Yana Melnikova, 2011-2013

Max Kollmer, 2012-2013


Esther Schenau, Summer 2013

5 responses to “Meet the Research Team

  1. Pingback: Városi méhtartás = menő | MaciHadsereg·

  2. Pingback: BrightestYoungThings – DC – Video of the Week: Urban Beekeeping, That’s A Thing.·

  3. Does your lab also research native Native Apoidea or the sustainable pollination/native-based pollination paradigms?

    My name is Nick Stewart, & I’ve been conducting a large scale assessment of native pollination services for entomophilous agriculture and a bio-Inventory of native bees for the last four years in North Georgia apple orchards. Am interested in a graduate program/lab PI which I could pursue my phd under in the Baltimore-DC-VA area – any suggestions beyond Dr Inouye (University of MD) or Dr Roulston (University of VA)?

    Nick Stewart

    • Mr. Stewart,

      As of right now The George Washington University does not have a program like that available but we are in the process of creating one. There are many other available opportunities at GW, so I would look into our school. Good luck in your future endeavors.


    • 5/29/14
      I am w/the West Georgia Native Plant Society in Carrollton, GA, and would like to extend an invitation for you to participate in our Fall Workshop to be held on September 20, 2014, if you would be available.
      Please contact me asap @ 770-363-7410.
      Thanking you.
      Kathy Baker

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