Page, a pollination ecologist, was one of 69 awardees selected from more than 3600 applicants. Her fellowship is funded by the Department of Defense.
“The fellowship is well deserved,” said Williams, her major professor and a pollination ecologist and a UC Davis Chancellor's Fellow. “Maureen is a talented researcher, who shows a real passion for her research that is combined with a highly analytical meticulous approach.”
Of her project, Williams said: “Her work melds careful field sampling with advanced analysis, including computational optimization modeling. It will move existing research to a new level by exploring the nutritional basis of competitive interactions among pollinators. The project builds from a solid foundation but his highly innovative. Its results should be of tremendous value to the scientific community, but are also highly relevant for decision making to promote sustainable food systems for California and beyond.”
Page received her bachelor's degree in biology, cum laude, from Scripps College, Claremont, Calif., in 2016, and then enrolled in the UC Davis entomology graduate program, with a career goal of becoming a professor and principal investigator.
“I became interested in UC Davis because I was interested in working in Neal's lab,” she related. “After my sophomore year of college, I participated in National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) with the Chicago Botanic Gardens. One of the professors I was working with, Jennifer Ison, told me that my research interests aligned well with the work coming out of Neal's lab and I quickly realized she was right.”
“I even bookmarked the Williams lab webpage so I could check for recent papers!” Page said. “Neal is an even better advisor than I could have hoped for and I feel very grateful to be a part of UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.”
Her dissertation research focuses on using plant-pollinator interaction networks to (1) assess the impact of honey bee introductions on native plant pollination and (2) optimize wildflower plantings to simultaneously support honey bee health and diverse native bee communities.
“I've always loved flowers and I think my love of bees grew out of my academic interest in pollination ecology and a desire to apply my talents towards research that would benefit farmers and pollinator conservation efforts,” said Page, a native of San Francisco but who grew up in Ashland, Ore.
As a volunteer researcher for Southern Oregon University, she worked on a watershed project in the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, and was named the City of Ashland's Conservationist of the Year in April 2012. The city honored her at its Earth Day celebration.
Keenly interested in bee research, Page received a 2013 Scripps Environmental Research Grant to establish a solitary bee monitoring program at the Bernard Field Station in Claremont. She created a reference collection and species list of bee diversity at the field station, gaining experience collecting, pinning and identifying bee specimens. She presented her findings at the Scripps Undergraduate Research Symposium. Page later worked on a project categorizing pollen deposition by the yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenkii to California figwort, Scrophularia california.
What fascinates her about bees? “Tough question!” said Page, who is the first entomologist in her family. “Bees are so very interesting for so many different reasons! I'm particularly fascinated by the relationship between bees and flowers--with bees acting as pollinators and flowers offering bees important pollen and nectar resources. I think the biggest misconception is that all bees are honey bees. In fact, there are more than 20,000 species in the world, only 7 of which are considered honey bees!”
An average day?
“My field season has started, so on an ‘average day' I'm at one of my lab's wildflower plantings by 7 a.m. and driving home with coolers of bees and flowers around 7 p.m.,” Page said. “The most fun part of my fieldwork is using something called a ‘mobile bouquet' to measure single-visit pollen deposition by different pollinator taxa to different plant taxa.”
Page was awarded a grant from the Davis Botanical Society earlier this year, and won second place in the graduate students' poster competition at the 2018 UC Davis Bee Symposium for her poster, “Impacts of Honey Abundance on the Pollination of Eschscholzia californica. Last year she received a Northern California Botanists' Grant and a Davis Botanical Society Grant.
Eager to reach youth about the importance of pollinators, Page began volunteering in 2016 for the Center for Land-Based Learning, mentoring students from Sacramento High School, and engaging them in hands-on conservation science at Say Hay Farms, a 20-acre family farm in Yolo County. She has taught students at her Davis area field site about the benefits of providing wildflower habitat for pollinators.
The UC Davis doctoral student has also presented lectures at the Hoes' Down Harvest Festival, Yolo County, on “Pollinators on the Farm” and led a kids' bug hunt. She presented an invited lecture on “Beneficial Insects in Home Gardens” to the El Dorado Master Gardeners, part of the UC Cooperative Extension program, and volunteered at their other activities.
Page serves as secretary of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association. In her leisure time, she enjoys “baking, rock climbing, learning new things, and sketching--mostly-flowers, bees, and sometimes butterflies.”
Judges were Tom Seeley, professor at Cornell University, the symposium's keynote speaker; speaker Santiago Ramirez, assistant professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor at UC Davis. Master beekeeper/journalist Mea McNeil of San Anselmo served as the timer and coordinator for the panel.
“In conservation biology and ecological study, we must know the distances organisms travel and the scales over which they go about their lives,” Mola said of his work. “To properly conserve species, we have to know how much land they need, how close those habitats need to be to each other, and the impact of travel on species success. For instance, if I'm told there's free burritos in the break room, I'm all over it. If the 'free' burritos require me traveling to Scotland, it's not worth it and I would spend more energy (and money) than I would gain. For pollinators, it's especially important we understand their movement since the distances they travel also dictates the quality of the pollination service they provide to crop and wild plants."
Second place of $600 went to Maureen Page, a second-year Ph.D. student in Neal Williams lab for her research, “Impacts of Honey Bee Abundance on the Pollination of Eschscholzia californica (California golden poppy).”
Page presented her research on the impacts of honey bee abundance on native plant pollination. “While honey bees are economically important, they are not native to North America and may have negative impacts on native bees and native plant communities in certain contexts,” she related. “My research is ongoing, but preliminary results suggest that honey bee abundance may negatively affect the pollination of California poppies.”
In her abstract, Page wrote: "Many studies support the claim that introduced honey bees compete with native pollinators. However, little is known about how honey bee introductions will affect native plant communities and plant species' persistence."
Page received her bachelor's degree in biology from Scripps College, Claremont, Calif. in 2006, cum laude. She seeks a career as a professor and principal investigator.
Two graduate students tied for fourth place and each received $250: doctoral student Jacob Francis of the University of Nevada, for his “A Sweet Solution to the Pollen Paradox: Nectar Mediates Bees' Responses to Defended Pollen” and Katie Uhl, a master's student, UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology, for her “Determination of Volatile Organic Compounds in Mono-Floral Honey Using HS-SPME/GC/MS." Francis studies with major professor Anne Leonard of Ecology, Evoluiton and Conservation Biology. Uhl's major professor is Alyson Mitchell.
Also honored was Kimberly Chacon, a doctoral student in the UC Davis Geography Graduate Group who studies with Professor Steve Greco for her “A Landscape Ecology Approach to Bee Conservation and Habitat Design." She received $150.
The annual Bee Symposium, themed "Keeping Bees Healthy, " is sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, headed by director Amina Harris, and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, chaired by nematologist and professor Steve Nadler.
Harris and Professor Neal Williams of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, who serves as the center's faculty co-chair, emceed the symposium. The symposium drew a crowd of 250 from across the country.
Bohls, who is seeking her doctorate in entomology, with a focus on honey bee queen rearing and health, studies with Extension apiculturist Elina Niño. Originally from Macedonia, Ohio, Bohls received her bachelor's degree in neuroscience and environmental studies at Hiram (Ohio) College.
Page, who began her graduate students this fall with pollination ecologist Neal Williams, associate professor of entomology, is exploring pollinator communities in response to agricultural management and the benefits of providing diverse floral habitat. She completed her undergraduate work at Scripps College, Claremont, Calif.
The Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris, received financial support from philanthropists Doug and Juli Muhleman of Healdsburg and through the Center's sale of UC Davis honey, honey wheels and notecards.
To date, the center has donated more than $65,000 to the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The Center helped fund the newly launched California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), the annual Bee Symposium and has increased its support of graduate students through scholarships, awards and travel allowances, Harris said.
The Muhlemans last year received the Charles J. Soderquist Award, a $5,000 gift from the UC Davis Foundation to be donated to a university program of their choice. The annual award is presented to individuals who demonstrate excellence in philanthropy, volunteerism, leadership and overall commitment to UC Davis. The Honey and Pollination Center was selected to steward their award, which was matched by the Muhlemans, bringing the gift to $10,000.
Doug Muhleman, a UC Davis alumnus, retired in 2008 as Anheuser-Busch's Group Vice President of Brewing Operations and Technology, where he was responsible for 10,000 employees across five corporate groups, the company's domestic and international breweries and its agricultural operations. “Over the course of my career, AB hired scores of UC Davis grads because the UC Davis-educated brewer came with a skill set and knowledge base that really wasn't possible from another university,” Muhleman recently told UC Davis Giving. The Muhlemans' two children are also UC Davis graduates.
Muhleman furthered the partnerships between his employer and alma mater by helping create the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Chair for Malting and Brewing Sciences in the Department of Food Science and Technology and the pilot brewery, a campus research facility that opened in April 2006. He also was instrumental in arranging a $5 million matching pledge from the Anheuser-Busch Foundation to establish the August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory in UC Davis' Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
In addition to donating to the Honey and Pollination Center, the Muhlemans have supported several initiatives around campus, including the creation of the Michael J. Lewis Endowment for Brewing Science in honor of his teacher and mentor.
Other benefactors of the Honey and Pollination Center:
Poster Competition Winners
As part of its drive to support students engaged in research, teaching and outreach, the Honey and Pollination Center provided cash awards to the winners of its annual UC Davis Bee Symposium Graduate Student Poster competition, held May 7.
- First place, $1000: Co-authors Laura Ward and Sara Winsemius, Ph.D. candidates at UC Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy and Management, for their work on “Exploring Potential Routes of Neonicotinoid Exposure within Pollinator Hedgerows Adjacent to Seed-Treated Sunflowers.”
- Second place, $750: Cameron Jasper, a Ph.D. candidate in the UC Davis Department Entomology and Nematology for his research project, “Investigating Potential Synergistic Effects of Chronic Exposure to Amitraz and Multiple Pesticides on Honey Bee Survivorship.”
- Third place, $500: Brittney Goodrich, a Ph.D. candidate in the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, for her research project, ""Honey Bee Health: Economic Implications for Beekeepers in Almond Pollination."
- Fourth place, $250: John Mola, a Ph.D. candidate from the UC Davis Graduate Group in Ecology, for "Fine Scale Population Genetics and Movement Ecology of the Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenkii)."
The poster competition drew eight submissions. A panel of three judged the presenters and their work: Dennis vanEnglesdorp, assistant professor of entomology, University of Maryland; Quinn McFrederick, assistant professor of entomology, UC Riverside and Robbin Thorp, distinguished professor emeritus of entomology and nematology, UC Davis.
California Master Beekeeper Program
The Center is helping to fund the newly created California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), aimed at using science-based information to educate beekeepers to be ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping, Harris said. California has more than half a million commercial beehives and thousands more in backyards. The Center has channeled gifts from the Springcreek and Kaiser Family Foundations to expand funding for CAMBP. The College of Agricultural and Environmental Science has also helped fund the program “which will help to ensure that every beekeeper has access to ongoing education to help keep our bees healthy and our citizens educated about the value of bees to our lives and our economy,” Harris said..
“In addition to the educational component, a full website for CAMBP will be developed so that beekeepers can access courses, lectures and additional information on an ongoing basis,” Harris said. “The program will include classroom experiences with hands-on training at UC Davis this fall with plans to extend classes throughout the state in upcoming years.”
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, ranked nationally, continues to lead the way in agricultural innovation and sustainability, in part through fostering pollinator-related research and conferences.
To learn more information about the Honey and Pollination Center and its programs, or to provide support for its work, see www.honey.ucdavis.edu.