Kalyn Bickerman is a Ph.D. student at the University of Maine under the supervision of Dr. Frank Drummond and works on investigating the health of native bumblebees in Maine’s lowbush blueberry fields. Before arriving at UMaine, Kalyn completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME, as well as a Master of Arts degree in Conservation Biology at Columbia University in the City of New York.
Although her Master’s work focused on the health of loggerhead sea turtles in the Pacific, Kalyn has been able to transfer her knowledge of, and her interest in, pathology and disease ecology to doing her Ph.D. work with Maine’s bumblebees. Beyond looking for common parasites and pathogens in the bees, Kalyn also has done some work looking at pesticides and how they affect colony development, along with how well individual bees are able to detoxify themselves when faced with pesticide exposure.
Lowbush blueberries are one of Maine’s most important exports and bumblebees are instrumental in their pollination for successful fruit production. Therefore, it is vital to protect our native pollinators, particularly in a time when our managed pollinator, the honeybee, is facing such grave declines. Although she traveled and has lived in different cities since graduating college, Kalyn (a Maine native) always knew she wanted to return to Maine to begin her professional career. She is very happy that her work not only helps protect the bees, but also the agricultural economy of her home State.