Meet the Research Team

Dr. Hartmut Doebel

Hartmut Doebel is the head of the beekeeping and research team.  Dr. Doebel started this four-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 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.

Senior Beekeeper: Gabrielle Discafani


Gabrielle is a senior at GW with a major in Classical Studies and a minor in Biological Anthropology. She is from a small town in New Jersey, and came to GW to satiate her inquiries about a plethora of interests, including honey bees! Gabrielle’s entire family has been terrified of bees as early as she can remember, but she felt ambivalently about them for most of her life. Her interest in honey bees was piqued when she heard first heard how significantly Colony Collapse Disorder affects their lives, and in turn, how the bees (and their decline) impact our world. She is proud to currently serve as the Senior Beekeeper at the apiary and as the Public BEElations Media Coordinator, the admin of the GW Buzz website.

Junior Beekeeper: Monica Boedigheimer

Monica is a rising sophomore from Newbury Park, CA (a suburb of a suburb of LA). She is majoring in biology on a pre-med track and minoring in statistics. Along with (bee)ing the junior beekeeper, she is studying the effects of pesticides on drone sperm viability in the bee lab. She has always been a fan of bees, as they are magnificent and fuzzy lil creatures, and despite being stung multiple times as a child and once chased by a swarm of them Monica has never been afraid of bees. In fact, when she was younger Monica would often try (unsuccesfully) to catch them and keep them as pets, leading to some of her stings, and much chiding from adults. She feels very lucky to get to work with them now!

Audra Fain

Audra is a sophomore at GW,  majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Biology. She grew up in Seattle, Washington and spent much of childhood camping, backpacking and learning about the outdoors. She first became interested in bees as a kid because her uncle had hives and would let her put on a mini bee suit and look at them. Not only did it feel like dress-up, but then she got to taste different types of honey all afternoon – and has since then developed a sweet tooth! Audra began working in the bee lab during her sophomore year with the Immune team, and is excited to continue learning and extending her research!

Carolina Cardoso

Carolina is from Brazil, and is a Senior majoring in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Mind-Brain studies. This is her first year at the Bee Lab and she is a part of the Queen Team, where they work on queen rearing and effects of pesticides on the reproductive system of bees. She loves working with honey bees because she thinks studying their behavior is very interesting since they are such unique social insects.

Devi Alaparthi

Devi is a sophomore majoring in Chemistry. She was originally born in India, but her family moved to the States when she was very young. She grew up in mainly New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and she currently resides in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Queen Team in which she is collaboratively studying the effects of pesticides on honey bee queens. Devi is extremely interested in doing research involving honey bees due to her love for all animals, big and small. She believes small insects and bugs especially are often mistreated and ignored in today’s world and they deserve better! Thus, she is very excited to be exploring the causes of CCD among honey bees and working towards helping improve the quality of life available to them.

Donald Anyanwu

Donald is majoring in Biology with a minor in Emergency Health Services. He considers himself a world citizen due to his diverse upbringing. Donald aims to cherish and maximize each day in his drive to enhance his global community. He is an avid sports fan who enjoys the warmth of the outdoors and appreciating the beauty within life. Upon hearing about the exploits of the bee research, he was enthralled by the possibility of working with these exquisite creatures with immense effect on our globe. He has since immersed himself in the Pesticide/Behavior team to satisfy his insatiable curiosity on Colony Collapse Disorder, and its effect on our global community. He is constantly enamored by the brilliance of bees.

Emilie Lemieux

Emilie is a rising sophomore at GW, majoring in Biomedical Engineering.  She grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois and enjoys running and playing soccer.  She loves to travel, learn and experience new things, as well as practicing new languages.  Emilie first became interested in the Bee Lab during Intro Biology lab and has loved working on the Pesticide/Behavior team.  She has learned a lot from her fellow researchers and continues to enjoy the lab experience.

Ideen Modarres

Ideen lives in Potomac, Maryland, and is a rising junior at GWU, currently studying chemistry. His team is focused on queen rearing and the effects of glyphosate on larvae development and CCD. He is working with bees because he loves those girls!

Jasmina Abdalla

Jasmina is a rising sophomore at George Washington University. With parents from Sudan and Libya, born in Qatar, raised in the Emirates, and a citizen of Canada, she enjoys being around people with different cultural backgrounds. She is currently set on majoring in Biology and is on the pre-med track with hopes of becoming a surgeon. She took the opportunity to research this summer to learn what it’s like to conduct research and work with a team in order to develop the necessary skills to eventually pursue her own research in genetics. She’ll be spending this summer working with the Drone Team and seeing the effects of various pesticides and insecticides on the viability of honeybee drones’ sperm. When she’s not squeezing the insides of out of things, she’s probably watching New Girl or eating Oreo ice cream.

Jonah Heller

Jonah grew up in Oakland, California, and attended boarding school in western Massachusetts. His hobbies include reading, listening to music, and petting any dogs within arm’s reach. At the lab, Jonah is a part of the immune team; currently he is focused on research involving antimicrobial secretions on bee’s skin. Jonah is a junior at GW, and is pursuing a BS in Biology, hoping to have a career in research.

Justin Butera


Justin is a rising senior from Ashburn, VA. He is majoring in Biology at GW. Even as a child he was interested in animals and nature. He became interested in bee research because it involves working closely with the bees. He is studying bee immune systems and hopes to learn more about how they work and if pesticides negatively affect the bees’ immune system’s ability to fight off infection.


Kayla Schwartz

Kayla is a sophomore at GW majoring in biology with a minor in biological anthropology. Growing up on Long Island, New York, she grew passionate about nature, spending her time traveling, camping, hiking, climbing, skiing, and kayaking. She soon became fascinated by ecology and evolution because of their interconnections with all aspects of the biological world. Kayla first became interested in studying honey bees when she learned of their importance in agriculture, and was excited to explore more about their connections with the environment. She began working in the bee lab during her sophomore year with the pheromone team, a group of students studying the effects of artificial pheromones on learning and aversive behavior. She is excited to continue her work in the lab and to further understand the brilliance of these creatures.

Madison Hertzog

Mannat Sawhney


Mannat is a rising junior studying Biology at GWU, and would like to pursue a career in dermatology. She was born in India, but raised in New Jersey and Delaware. Currently, Mannat is part of the second queen rearing team, whose project and goal is to increase sperm viability of queen bees so that we can create healthier hives. This is her first year as an undergraduate researcher, and is thrilled to gain more knowledge about honey bees this summer.

McKenzie Gray


McKenzie is a junior majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Biology. Growing up in a small town on the coast of Maine, she has always had an appreciation for nature and an active lifestyle. She enjoys doing anything that involves being outside in the fresh air, and she loves to travel. McKenzie became interested in learning more about honey bees after a lab dedicated to them in her intro biology class during her freshman year at GW. She then began working in the Bee Lab in her sophomore year on a team of students studying the immune system of the bee, which she will continue to study. She has learned so much while working in the bee lab, and continues to be surprised by how complex such tiny creatures can be.

Michelle Ahn


Michelle is a junior majoring in Biology with a minor in Human Anatomy. Since 3rd grade, she has lived in Clifton, VA, a quiet town surrounded by trees and wildlife. Not only does she garden with her grandparents, but she is also a member of her community’s bee-safe neighborhood. Since she came to GWU, her curiosity for honeybees grew, leading her to become an undergraduate researcher. Currently, she is working on the Larvae team, which focuses on the dual effect of pesticides and pbacteria on the development of honeybees and their immune system.

Nazeef Vasaya

Nico Deflorio

Nico grew up in a town right outside Boston, Massachusetts and before coming to GW had never been to DC.  Nevertheless, having spent a year in DC and become acclimated to the city and Foggy Bottom area, he now loves the city and all it has to offer!  As a student, Nico is studying Biology with aspirations of pursuing a career in medicine.  Nico is currently on the Queen Team and is testing the affect of low to mid-levels of pesticides on queen pheromone activity, particularly the size of the queens retinue!

Olivia Dominguez

Olivia is rising junior from Seattle, Washington. She is a sociology major, on the pre-med track and is so excited to be a part of the behavior team. Though she is from the northwest and was always outdoors growing up, Olivia had little experience with bees prior to working in the lab, and at one point was slightly intimidated by them. Since joining, she has conquered her fears, and has learned a lot about beekeeping, and is excited to continue research. Bees are her friends now!

Shalini Amrit Sudama


Shalini is originally from Providence, Rhode Island. She loves the beach, the city and every activity that they could possibly encompass since she’s always had the best of both worlds back home. Shalini cares deeply (almost too much) about all animals and insects and has always done whatever she can to be involved with them. When she heard about Professor Doebel’s bee research, her interest was immediately sparked as she’s also had a slight fear of bees in the past and wanted to conquer it as soon as possible! Shalini has now grown to love them and will do whatever it takes to protect them. Shalini is currently a rising sophomore and aspires to be an emergency medicine physician someday. She is presently a Biology major with a possible minor in English or human anatomy. She is a member of one of the two queen rearing teams, whose research project involves the investigation of greater protein/antioxidant concentrations within both drone and queen bee diets’ to aid in the overall sperm viability and motility of the queen bee. The end goal is to determine why queen bees no longer have the lifespan they once did and consequently, inquire about other possible causes for colony collapse disorder (CCD). Some of the methods her team will be using are sperm collection, artificial insemination, and classical conditioning. We predict that this will be a two year project and expect to obtain more specific data results next summer (Summer ’16).

Sophie Jeong

Sophie is a rising sophomore majoring in Biology. She was born in Korea, but has lived in Northern Virginia most of her life. She enjoys the city life of DC not far from home, which is why she chose to attend GW. Sophie began working in the Bee Lab the summer after her freshman year studying the effects of artificial pheromones. She began her research in the Bee Lab because she was really looking forward to gaining a lot of research experience along with learning more about the complex intellectual creatures we run into everyday.

Tahlia Price-Rivera

Tahlia is a rising sophomore at GW, majoring in Biology and minoring in Spanish. She grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she spent her time outdoors playing soccer and softball. During her free time, she is usually found gaming or listening to her favorite music. She did not know much about honey bees until she took an introductory biology class her freshman year, and she is excited to start gaining research experience. She is currently on the pheromone team and hopes to learn more about honey bee pheromones and how they influence honey bee behavior and development.

Tara McCloskey


Tara is from Madison, CT and is pursuing a major in Public Health with a Biology minor at GW. She developed an interest in honeybee research her first year at GW in Doebel’s intro to biology course and has been working in the lab ever since. She has been working on assessing the effect of common pesticides on the viability of sperm.

Past Researchers:

Randy Alsabe, Beehavior Team Early Summer 2016

Mehreen Arif, Senior Beekeeper and Pesticide Team 2014-2016


Michael Stover, Pesticide Team 2014-2016


Priyanka Koti, 3D Printing Team Summer 2015


Kaleabe Abebe, Pesticide Team Summer 2015


Gerry Quinnan, 3D Printing Team Summer 2015


Dennis Khodasevich, Venom Team Summer 2015

Carly Sherman, Pesticide Team Summer 2015


Victoria Doheny, Sound Team Summer 2015

Roma Patel, Sound Team Summer 2015

Abigail Thorpe, Sound Team Summer 2015

Liam Douglass, Junior Beekeeper 2015

Elizabeth Young, Immune Team Summer 2015


Ryan Gunnison, Pesticide Team Summers 2014 & 2015


Anaïs Di Via Ioschpe, Venom Team Summer 2015


Amber McLeod, 2014-2015

Hannah Cox


Kyle Kurland

Brooke Talbot


Saveena Veeramoothoo

Ricky Zhu


Katherine Berry, 2012-2014


Yana Melnikova, 2011-2013

Max Kollmer, 2012-2013


Esther Schenau, Summer 2013


8 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

  4. Hello!

    I am a Public History graduate student at AU and I am working in a group charged with creating a pop up exhibit for the Smithsonian Gardens that focuses on the history of honey bees and their importance as pollinators. My group and I were wondering if we could talk with some of your researchers?

    Thank you in advance for any help you may be able to provide!

  5. Hello, my name is a David Garcia. I am registered beekeeper with the State of Florida. I just moved to DC in August to start law school at Georgetown (Sorry!!!). I am looking to start a couple hives in March. I was wondering if you guys could maybe provide me with info about finding roof space for rent (or if i could maybe put hives on your roof?). Also, any leads about where to buy used equipment would be great, do you guys have any old disease free equipment to sell. Back in Florida I ran a live bee removal business, I was removing about 7-8 hives a week, that was the stock I used and bred. I was hoping to do the same here and as I am sure you know, used wood lowers the rate of absconding for new hives.

    Any help you could provide would be great, thanks,
    David Garcia

    • Hi David,
      So here are a couple of links that might help you out –

      1) As per the green rooftop space for you to put your hives – GWU cannot rent out their building spaces to individuals not affiliated with the university or a specific department. (For e.g. our hives are on the roof of the Biology Department at GWU).
      But check out this company called “Up Top Acres” which is a rooftop farming company. Article website:
      Their website:
      Perhaps you could partner up with urban rooftop farming ventures like Up Top Acres because in doing so maybe they could give you reduced rent, etc.

      2) Regarding the equipment: We get all of our equipment from either Amazon, MannLake or Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. So you could try those out!

      Hope this helps. Kudos to you for embarking on your endeavor to start hives in March!! Good luck!!!

      – GWBuzz team

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