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Pollinator Protection

Pollinators are declining rapidly throughout the world, and researchers are scrambling to figure out why.

Pollinators are declining rapidly throughout the world, and researchers are scrambling to figure out why. To assist Pennsylvania’s beekeepers, growers, and others as they face this crisis, the Department of Entomology has created a new faculty position that will be responsible for conducting research, education, and outreach on pollinator health, conservation, and management.

“Pennsylvania, in particular, has been hit very hard, with a nearly 60 percent loss of honey bee colonies in the past year,” said Gary Felton, professor and head of the department. “This degree of loss is not sustainable. Our new faculty position will focus on improving the overall health of managed and native pollinators, especially in Pennsylvania.”

The position—titled assistant professor of managed pollinator biology, health, and ecology—will be housed within the Department of Entomology and part of Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research. The successful candidate will be selected during the 2015–2016 academic year.

“Our center has one of the highest concentrations of pollinator scientists in the nation, if not the world,” said Edwin Rajotte, professor of entomology. “This new position will create a much stronger and more consistent link between our scientists and beekeepers, farmers, environmental managers, and the public.”

According to Felton, part of the funding for the new position has been provided by a long-time supporter of the department: the Esther B. O’Keeffe Charitable Foundation. “Without their generosity, this new faculty position would not be possible,” he said.

—Sara LaJeunesse