CSUN undergrad researcher spent summer studying how bees beat the heat

An Andean red bumblebee visits a flower in Colombia (Flickr, Philip Bouchard)

Natalie Castillo, a CSUN Biology major working in Professor Robert Espinoza’s Laboratory of Integrative and Comparative Herpetology, spent her summer on a unique research internship experience, studying the thermal tolerance of Andean bees.

Castillo was one of four undergraduate researchers selected for the 2022 NSF-IRES: Pollinators in Changing Climates Colombia research experience. Participating students traveled to Colombia to research the impact of climate change on plant-pollinator interactions over a nine-week program working with mentors from Penn State University and Universidad Militar Nueva Granada in Colombia. Castillo, who is studying the thermal tolerances of brown widow spiders in the LICH group, elected to work with Dr. Margarita Lopez-Uribe from Penn State, studying variation in thermal tolerance of Andean bees. Bees’ thermal tolerances may determine their responses to changing climates, impacting the vital pollination services they provide for native plants.