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.

Katherine Berry

Born and raised in southern California, Katherine grew up on in a historical home with an avocado grove and three honeybee hives. Her interest in science is rooted in watching the bees pollinate the avocado trees. Today, she uses that same inspiration to drive her research.

Katherine plans on obtaining a Biology degree with a double minor in Health and Wellness and Fine Art at GWU. Her research focuses on palynology, more commonly known as the study of pollen. She observes pollen forager bees by tracking, marking and collecting pollen from these special worker honey bees.  With this research, we will have a better understanding of urban beekeeping, urban bee nutrition, bee foraging statistics and local flora in the DC area. She analyzes the pollen by looking through a light microscope and permanently mounting the grains on microscope slides using a technique she developed herself. She is also working to further look at the structure of pollen grains by using a Scanning Electron Microscope and analyzing the protein content of the pollen grains. Katherine is currently developing a methodology to help beekeepers check on the nutritional level of their hive through honeybee diet and pollen analysis. She is also on the GW Women’s Water Polo team.


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 the heart of the nation’s capital and raised in Vienna, Virginia, Ricky grew up with apiphobia—the fear of bees—after being stung in the ear from carelessly flinging his tennis racket at a garbage can following a tennis match victory against his older brother. Having translated this old fear into a brand new passion makes him even more hungry to engulf more challenges throughout his adventure of pursuing a major in Biology and minor in Chemistry at GWU.

Ricky is both a beekeeper and a researcher. Ricky’s research revolves around Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is the worldwide phenomenon attributed to the mysterious disappearance of honey bee colonies from their hives. In the context of CCD, his studies focuses on the comparison of immune systems between wild-type and domesticated honey bees in response to possible CCD factors, including pathogens, varroa mites, pesticides used for food production, or a combination of these. Another experimental focus is the analysis of hemocyte (insect blood cell) count in response to aforementioned factors. Ricky’s research will bring more clarity and more understanding to the mystery of CCD.


Past Researchers:

Yana Melnikova, 2011-2013

Max Kollmer, 2012-2013


Esther Schenau, Summer 2013

4 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.


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