Team | Rueppell Research Group


Disclaimer – This information is correct to the best of my knowledge: Alumni: Please send me updated information!

Olav Rueppell  (Group Leader, Mentor, and PI)  –  CV_OR
Office: 206 Eberhart Building
Phone: (+1) 336-2562591
Office hours: Tuesdays 2-3pm and Wednesdays 10-11am
! Contact me if you are interested in becoming part of our team !

Currently Lab Members:

Esmaeil Amiri (Postdoc): I worked as a professional beekeeper while completing my undergraduate studies in Animal Science at the University of Mazandaran. In 2008, I was awarded an European scholarship to complete my Master’s degree in the Erasmus Mundus – Animal Breeding and Genetics (EM-ABG) program. My involvement in a bioinformatics project and knowledge gained with the completion of Master’s thesis have provided me with a solid foundation in molecular genetics and statistical genomics. In 2011, I joined the PhD program at Aarhus University, Denmark to pursue my interest in honey bee research with the aim of identifying alternative ways to combat viral disease in honey bee queens. My research provided the first and only empirical evidence of a sexually transmitted viral disease in honey bees. In 2016, I joined the collaborative team of Dr. Rueppell, Dr. David R. Tarpy (, and Dr. Micheline K. Strand (Army Research Office) as a postdoctoral fellow to expand my knowledge in honey bee health and investigate various stresses of honey bees. My various projects are centering on honey bee viruses and their interactions with other environmental stressors. If you are interested to learn more about my research, please visit my pages at Researchgate or GoogleScholar
Shilpi BhatiaShilpi Bhatia (PhD student): I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Botany with Honors from University of Delhi, India and my Master’s in Plant Biotechnology from TERI school of Advanced Studies, New-Delhi, India. My Master’s thesis was entitled “Mapping of seed coat colour in Brassica juncea using TE-AFLP markers”. This work fostered my interest in genetics and genomics. I worked as a Junior Research Fellow after my Master’s at Department of Genetics, University of Delhi-South Campus, India on the topic “Engineering ToLCV resistance in Tomato by using single and multiple artificial micro RNAs”. This further helped me gain an expertise in most molecular techniques and genetics work. For this reason after joining UNCG in Fall’16, I rotated with Dr.Rueppell and joined his lab as a PhD student in Spring’17. Although I made a switch from plants to honey bees as the model system, my research still focuses on studying the virus-host interaction and using genetics and genomics approaches to help mitigate the losses in honey bees due to one of the most deadly virus – Isareli Acute Paralysis virus (IAPV). The title of my doctorate dissertation is “Genetic architecture of honey bee virus susceptibility”.
 Asia Brannon (undergraduate): I have always been fascinated by viruses, their implications on humans, and ways of treating them. Through my research project in the UNCG social insect lab, I hope to utilize honeybees as a model for better understanding virus-host interactions. I will compare the virus prevalence and titers between honey bees that exhibit hygienic behavior or not. Besides my research, I’m studying Biology with a concentration in pre-medicine and a goal of going to Medical school or attaining a PhD.
Beth Carswell (undergraduate): I am a pre-vet biology major at UNCG. After graduating in fall of 2020, I plan to go to either graduate or veterinary school. I currently work part time as a veterinary assistant at a hospital for small and exotic animals. Through my research in Dr. Rueppell’s lab I hope to expand my understanding of viral-host interaction and viral transmission.
Jacob Herman (PhD student): I earned my Bachelors degree in Entomology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I worked with Dr. Gene Robinson on various components of honey bee Neuroethology and Evolution. After this, I attained my Master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior under the supervision of Dr. Ulrich Mueller. My thesis focused on studying the ecology and population dynamics of Apis florea, the Dwarf Asian Honey Bee, and involved the collection of natural colonies spanning all of India. I have joined the Rueppell lab in hope of continuing my work on Asian Honey Bees, and better understanding the ecology and genetic architecture driving complex adaptations to stress and life history across Apis
Cristian Hernandez (undergraduate): I am a current Pre-Med Post-Bac student at UNCG. I received my BS in Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill in 2017 and my ultimate goal is to enter into the field of medicine to help those not only in my community, but in those surrounding me by providing easy access to affordable healthcare. I joined Dr. Rueppell’s lab not only because of the importance of honey bees, but because of the wide-array of work everyone is doing. I’m hoping to learn valuable research skills to contribute to overall honey bee health.
  Emily Jordon (undergraduate): As a previous geologist and current participant in UNCG’s pre-med post baccalaureate program, I am interested in expanding my scientific knowledge from an earth science perspective to a biological perspective. I was inspired by Dr. Rueppell’s Bio 112 course and am looking forward to learning more about the behavior and health of the honey bee through my experience in the Rueppell Research Group.
 Sarah Krug (undergraduate):  I am a post-bacc student from Chapel Hill, where I earned my bachelors in Media & Journalism and Anthropology and completed an honors research project on social networks and crisis renewal. Here at UNCG, I’ve switched disciplines but continue to be interested in research and how it can both answer important questions and present new questions. I truly enjoy learning and appreciate the opportunity to develop my lab skills and expand my basis of scientific knowledge through the Rueppell lab.
Anh Phan (undergraduate):
Shaun Pitts (undergraduate): I am an undergraduate student majoring in Biochemistry. I am committed to (and excited about) participating in honey bee research, specifically studies of hygienic behavior, as an investment towards my career in the natural sciences.
Phoebe Snyder (MSc student): In growing up on a farm in western Maryland, I developed a love for nature and agriculture from a young age. As I was completing my BS in Biology, I discovered a marriage of my two interests, nature and science, through honey bees. From that point on, I spent my time learning beekeeping practices and working on multiple honey bee studies that took me to California, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. I graduated from Stevenson University in spring 2018 and continued researching honey bees at the United States Department of Agriculture Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, Maryland for the summer prior to coming to UNCG. In beginning my MS in Biology with the Rueppell group, I aim for my research contributions to center around honey bee behavior and evolution, as well as the implications of disease on honey bee health.
Kaira Wagoner (Postdoc): I have been a nature lover all my life, but my formal education began at Guilford College, where I double majored in Biology and Health Sciences, and minored in Chemistry and Astronomy.   After the death of a dear friend from malaria, I was inspired to return to school to study malaria-carrying mosquitoes. My master’s thesis was entitled “Identification of morphologic and chemical markers of aestivating conditions in female Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes.” This work fostered my interest in the chemical ecology of insects, although for my doctorate I decided to switch my focus to a beneficial insect – the honey bee.   I was particularly interested in the fascinating social immune mechanism hygienic behavior, the ability of adult honey bees to detect and remove unhealthy brood from the hive, improving the overall health of the colony.  My doctoral dissertation was an investigation of the relationships between common stressors, brood-signaling, hygienic behavior, and selective breeding in the honey bee.  As a post-doctoral fellow, I have continued this work, and am currently using natural honey bee stress signals to develop an assay for the improved selection of hygienic behavior.
Prashant Waiker (PhD student): I received my BS-MS dual degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry in 2015 from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal in India. Since my undergraduate studies, I was interested in Genetics and Evolution and I have worked in various research projects involving diverse model organisms such as Drosophila, Arabidopsis, Bacteria, and Yeast. I worked with Dr. Chandan Sahi and completed a Master’s thesis on yeast genetics where I investigated the interactions of spliceosomal disassembly complex proteins. After graduating, I worked at a Metagenomics lab for one year, during which I worked in various projects to identify bacterial and fungal diversity of environmental samples. In 2016, I joined UNCG as a PhD student with a long-term goal to be a researcher in evolutionary biology and genomics. I joined Dr. Olav Rueppell’s lab in 2017 and since then I am working on understanding meiotic recombination in social insects – specially in subterrestrial termites and western honey bees – and how high recombination rates are related to eusociality. I like to watch movies and travel when I am not in the lab. Check my Website.


Past Graduate Lab Members:

Carlos Vega Melendez: “Effects of early developmental stress in Apis mellifera” (PhD: 2013 – 2019), now working at USDA.
Anissa Kennedy: “Increased Stress Resistance in Socially Manipulated Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Workers” (MSc: 2016 – 2018), now PhD student in Mainz, Germany
Taylor Reams: “Examining the Factors Influencing Varroa destructor Host Selection of Apis mellifera Larvae” (MSc: 2016 – 2018), now PhD student at Texas A&M
Hongmei Li-Byarlay: “Genomic studies of stress resistance in honey bees” (NCSU-affiliated postdoc: 2014 – 2017), now Assistant Professor at Central State University
Bertrand Fouks: “Genomic studies of recombination and aging in honey bees” (2014 – 2015).
Wendy Zuluaga Smith: “Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus in Apis mellifera queens: Impact on colony role, transmission routes, and immune priming” (MSc: 2014 – 2016).
Katelyn Miller: “Construction and Fine-Scale Analysis of a High-Density, Genome-Wide Linkage Map to Examine Meiotic Recombination in the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera.” (MSc: 2012 – 2014)
Ming Huang: “Genetics of oxidative stress resistance in honey bees” (NCSU-affiliated postdoc: 2012 – 2014)
Kurt Langberg: “Testing the Effects of Oxidative Stress on Genomic Recombination in the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera.” (MSc: 2012 – 2014)
Humberto Freire Boncristiani: “Functional genomics of IAPV infection in honey bees” (Postdoc: 2011 – 2013)
Ryan Kuster: “Expression Levels of Immune-genes in Developing Workers of Apis mellifera in Response to Reproductive Timing and Infestation Level by the Parasitic Mite Varroa destructor.” (MSc: 2010 – 2012), undergraduate (2009)
Mike Simone-Finstroem: “Honey bee stress and aging” (NCSU-affiliated postdoc: 2011 – 2012)
Cordelia Sackey-Mensah: “The Effect of Xenobiotics on the Honeybee Adult Intestinal Stem Cell Proliferation.” (MSc: 2009 – 2012)
Laura Willard: “Development and Analysis of Primary Cultures from the Midgut of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera.” (MSc: 2008 – 2012)
Emily Meznar: “Genomic Synteny and Comparison of Recombination between A. mellifera (the European Honey Bee) and A. florea (the Red Dwarf Honey Bee).” (MSc: 2007 – 2009)
Allie Graham: “The Genetic Architecture of Reproductive Differences in Workers of Africanized and European Honey Bees, Apis mellifera.” (MSc: 2007 – 2009)
Kristen Ward: “A Study of Cellular Proliferation and Apoptosis in Short- and Long-lived Honey Bees, Apis mellifera.  ” (MSc: 2004 – 2006)


Past Undergraduate Lab Members:

Tatiana Molina-Morales (2018 – 2019)

Kali Cox (2018 – 2019)

Matthew Hill (2019)

Spencer Moore (2019)

Maya Brody (2019)

Kevin Le (2017-2018)

Kimberlyn Eversman (2018)

University of Tennesee Knoxville

Mohamad Omar Ani (2018)

Katherine Barrs (2018)

Zea Robinson


Max McCall

(2017 – 2018)

Saman Baral

(2017 – 2018, Honors Thesis)

 Eden Simmons


Foray Keita

(2017 – 2018)

 Mustafa Noori (2016 – 2017)

Samyra Blackeney (2017)

Erin Estes


 Christopher Reid


Mark Rothermund (2017)

Franco Abad


 Antron Spooner (2017)

 Talia Heckman (2016)

 Timothy Delory (2016)

> Graduate School (Utah State University, Biology)

 Karen Funderburk (2016 – 2017)

> Graduate School (Arizona State University, Bio-Math)

 Katherina Santiago (2016)

 Sherry Browne (2016)

> MRes in Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine

 Sara Rubio-Correa (2015 – 2017)

> Graduate School (Public Health, UNC-Chapel-Hill)

 Heeral Lakhani (2015 – 2016)

  Greg Seddon (2015 – 2016)

> Industry

 Chelsea MaLyn Lawhorn (2015), left

> Graduate School (NCSU, Mathematics)

 Rachel Schomaker (2015), right

> Graduate School (University of South Carolina, Biology)

 Tinaye Mutetwa (2015 – 2017, Honors thesis)

 Samantha McPherson (2015)

> Graduate School (NCSU, Entomology)

 Basema Khan (2014)

 Ashley LaVere (2014)

 >M.S. program at the University of Georgia

 Quinton Irby (2014 – 2015)

 Eli Thompson (2014)

 Jasmine Everett (2014)

 Daniel Smith (2013 – 2015), left

> Industry (LabCor)

 Juan Collazo (2013 – 2015), right

> Med School (Wake Forest University)

Babak Yousefi (2013 – 2016, Honors thesis)

> UNC Dental School

Caitlin Ross (2012 – 2014)

> Graduate School (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

 Tiffany Fowler (2012 – 2016)

> High School Teacher

 Matthew Phillips (2012 – 2015)

> Graduate School (University of Delaware)

 Francisco Belinchon (2012 – 2013)

> Graduate School (UK, Virology)

 Kayla Jackson (2012)

 Candice Harrison (2011)

 Bobbee Vannasane (2011 – 2013)

> UNC Dental School

 Dominick DeFelice (2011 – 2014, Honors thesis)

> Med School (UNC)

 Tara McCray (2011)

> Graduate School (University of Illinois at Chicago, Medical Sciences)

Stephen Meier (2010)

 Dawit Adnew (2009)

 Luke Dixon (2009 – 2012)

> Laboratory Specialist (HPU)

 Ellen Lonon (2009)

   Michelle McQuage (2009)

 Nicholas Arvanitis (2009)

 Danielle Lucas (2009 – 2010)

Stephen Brown (2009)

 Nathan Ross (2008)

> High School Teacher

 Ashley Hayes (2008 – 2009)

> Graduate School (Biology, UNCW)

Matthew Whilhelm (2007)

> Graduate School

 Kaitlin Clinnin (2007 – 2008)

 Javier Luzon (2007 – 2008)

> NIH Internship

 Miranda Hayworth (2007 – 2008)

> MD-PhD Program (Georgia)

Robert Gove (2007)

> Graduate School

 Megan Leagon (2007)

 Nels Johnson (2007)

> Graduate School (Virginia Tech)

 Lauren Groves (2006 – 2007)

> Med School?

 Michael Munday (2006 – 2009, Honor thesis)

> Veterinary Tech

 Jennifer Coleman (2006 – 2008, Honor thesis)

> Lab Technician (UNC)

 Megan Wallrichs (2006 – 2008, Honor thesis)

> Graduate School (Delaware State, Biology)

Kari Fine (2005 – 2006)

> Vet-MD School (Georgia)

 Dominique Buehler (2005 – 2006)

> Graduate School (Switzerland, Environmental Studies)

 Anny Pena (2005 – 2006)

> Germany

 Akuabata Kerns (2005 – 2006)

Preston Gardner (2005 – 2006)

> Med School

 Caroline Mulcrone (2005)

> Pharmacy School (Ohio)

Robyn Douglas (2004)

> High School Teacher

 Oumar Seck (2003 – 2005)

> Industry

 Rex Kirkman (2003 – 2004)