Past Lab Members

Julia Vieira (M.S. 2023)

Julia started working in Dr. Steven Alm’s Bee Lab in 2020 as an undergraduate research assistant and is now a graduate student in the Biological and Environmental Sciences program. For her first thesis-related project, she identified surrogate insects of varroa mites to be used in the development of new varroa mite controls. She is currently working on identifying preferences of bumble bees to different clover species and common selfheal. In her free time, Julia enjoys hiking and working in her home garden.

Elizabeth Varkonyi (M.S. 2022)

Liz researched the bumble bees of Rhode Island and their floral visitation patterns. This research has revealed that of the twelve historically present bumble bees in RI, we have only been able to find seven (in addition to a new state record of a species never before detected in RI). Liz’s research has also revealed the importance of red clover to Bombus fervidus, one of the declining bumble bee species in Rhode Island. In 2021, Liz presented her research at the Entomological Society of America annual meeting in Denver, CO and received first place for her poster presentation.

Steven Sipolski (M.S. 2019)

For his thesis, Steven developed a “bee friendly” Japanese beetle trap that captures significantly fewer bees (as bycatch) than the standard trap and lure system. Steven’s research was acknowledged on the front page of Entomology Today Sept. 23, 2019. Steven is currently a Biological Science Technician for the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. His current projects are centered around researching parasitoid wasps and evaluating them as potential biological control agents for the invasive spotted lanternfly. This research aims to assist in controlling the spread of spotted lanternfly and contribute to the safeguarding of American agriculture.

Matthew Requintina

Matt worked on various projects, including research regarding Clothianadin and Imidacloprid residues in Poa annua (Clavet, et al. 2014) and research assessing the fungus Beauveria bassiana in controlling Annual bluegrass weevil, Listronotus maculicollis (Clavet, et al. 2013). He also worked on projects evaluating the effects of minimal risk natural products for control of the Blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis. (Dyer, et al. 2020). He left the academic world in 2019, and is currently a footwear designer and music director. You can see his work at the Wilbury Theatre Group, the Manton Avenue Project, and the Brown/ Trinity Rep M.F.A Program, all located in Providence, RI.

Olivia Barsoian

Olivia was instrumental in the success of the bee lab for many years. She conducted research on management methods of spotted wing drosophila and supported a variety of projects focused on pollinator health and plant-pollinator interactions. These projects included the determination of effective pollinators of highbush blueberry (Scott et al. 2016), the effects of nectar robbery by the Eastern carpenter bee on highbush blueberry (Tucker et al. 2019), and bee surveys at Rhode Island golf courses. Olivia left the lab in 2019 and currently works for the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Danielle Butler (B.S. 2020)

Danielle was a part of Dr. Alm’s Bee lab in 2019 as an undergraduate research assistant through URI’s Coastal and Environmental Fellowship. During this time she assisted with two research projects, varroa mite control in honey bee colonies and nectar rewards for native bees in blueberry cultivars. After working at the lab, Danielle graduated in 2020 and worked at a local veterinary hospital before starting her current position as Head of Reserves at the University of Rhode Island’s Library.



Sara Tucker (M.S. 2018)

For her thesis research, Sara determined that nectar robbing of blueberry flowers by the Eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) did not negatively affect fruit size or sugar content. Her paper was awarded the 2nd runner up best paper in 2019 by the editors of Environmental Entomology, Reviewer’s Choice Award, Environmental Entomology/ESA. Sara was recognized and invited to give a poster presentation of her research (see Tucker et al. 2019b) at the Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting. Sara received second place for her poster presentation at the ESA meeting in 2018. Currently, Sara works as a lab technician for the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Ithaca, NY where her current research projects focus on improving iron nutrition and iron bioavailability of common beans. This research is applied to developing bean varieties that are oftentimes sent to countries in Africa where iron deficiency is significant.

Zachary Scott (M.S. 2016)

Zach researched the most effective native bee pollinators of highbush blueberry in Rhode Island. For this research, Zach collected bees pollinating highbush blueberry plants on farms, identified bees to species, and determined the percent blueberry pollen loads from all collected bees. Most recently, Zach has been working as a Restoration Specialist at Applied Ecological Services to provide habitat enhancement at preserves and wetland mitigation sites.



Photos of the Past Lab Members