Keynote Speakers

Rufus Isaacs

Dr. Isaacs is a Professor and Extension Specialist at Michigan State University where he leads the Berry Crops Entomology laboratory in the Department of Entomology (College of Agriculture & Natural Resources). His team focuses on insect pest and pollinator management to support the profitability of hundreds of farms across Michigan. Pollination is a critical concern for the berry industries he serves, plus it has become of regional, national, and international importance within the concerns about bee health. Dr. Isaacs research has focused on strategies for sustainable management of pollinators in farms, with projects aimed at helping growers assess their pollination level and supporting pollinators with habitat conservation plantings to provide food for bees. This includes a 5 year project to explore the Integrated Crop Pollination concept in fruit, vegetable, and nut crops across the United States. More complete details are available at www.projecticp.org. More recently, Dr. Isaacs has been helping guide the Michigan Pollinator Initiative which is coordinating. He has been recognized with an Outstanding Faculty Award from MSU and Distinguished Service Award from Michigan State Horticultural Society. Outreach to the local community is also a priority, and in addition to presentations at schools, on the radio, and to garden groups, he has co-developed an annual Bee Palooza event on campus to highlight honeybees and wild bees to the local community.

Gene E. Robinson

Gene E. Robinson obtained his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1986 and joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989. He holds a University Swanlund Chair and Center for Advanced Study Professorship, is director (since 2011) of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) and director (since 1990) of the Bee Research Facility, and is a former director of the campus Neuroscience Program (2001-2011). Robinson pioneered the application of genomics to the study of social behavior, led the effort to sequence the honey bee genome, authored or co-authored over 300 publications, and has trained 29 postdoctoral associates and 23 doctoral students, over half with faculty positions in academia. He served on the National Institute of Mental Health Advisory Council and has past and current appointments on scientific advisory boards for companies with significant interests in genomics. Dr. Robinson’s honors include: Fellow and Founders Memorial Award, Entomological Society of America; Fellow and Distinguished Behaviorist, Animal Behavior Society; Distinguished Scientist Award, International Behavioral Genetics Society; Guggenheim Fellowship; Fulbright Fellowship; NIH Pioneer Award; Honorary Doctorate, Hebrew University; Fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences; Wolf Prize in Agriculture, Wolf Foundation; member, US National Academy of Medicine; and member, US National Academy of Sciences.

Peter Rosenkranz

Dr. Peter Rosenkranz studied Biology at the University of Tübingen in Southern Germany.  His Master’s thesis (1985) focused on the host-finding behavior of Varroa destructor.  During this period, he also started a small private beekeeping business and became a professional beekeeper.  Peter’s  PhD (1990), also from Tübingen, was on the following topic: “Host factors which trigger the reproduction of the Varroa females within Apis mellifera colonies”.  His PhD included several long-term research stays in Brazil and West Africa working with African and Africanized bees.  After his PhD, he spent several months in Northern India as a postdoctoral fellow working with Varroa and Asian species of honey bees.  From 1991-94, he worked as an Assistant Professor at the Bavarian State Institute of Honey Bee Breeding at Erlangen, and was responsible for applied research in bee pathology, extension work and honey bee breeding.  Since 1995 he has been the Director of the Apicultural State Institute which is part of the University of Hohenheim where he received his habilitation in Zoology.  The institute duties consist of applied research, honey quality and residue analysis, as well as extension and advanced training for beekeepers.  Dr. Rosenkranz’s main research areas still include the biology and control of Varroa destructor, as well as honey bee monitoring (with a focus on bee health) and the chemical communication of honey bees.  He is actively involved in the teaching of honey bee biology, beekeeping and social insects, and has also served as a supervisor for many Bachelor, Master and PhD theses.   In addition to his scientific work, Peter is a Member of the Editorial Board of “Apidologie”, a member of the Board of the Working Group of German Bee Institutes and last, but not least, remains a beekeeper (now with fewer colonies).  Since 2004, he has also served as a coordinator for the nation-wide “German Bee Monitoring project” on colony losses.

Thomas D. Seeley

Dr. Thomas D. Seeley is the Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell University, where he teaches courses on animal behavior and does research on the behavior, social life, and ecology of honey bees. He grew up in Ithaca, New York and began keeping bees while a high school student, when he brought home a swarm of bees in a simple wooden box. He went off to college at Dartmouth in 1970, but returned to Ithaca each summer to work at the Dyce Laboratory for Honey Bee Studies at Cornell, where he learned the craft of beekeeping and began probing the inner workings of honey bee colonies. Thoroughly intrigued by honey bees, he went on to graduate school at Harvard where he studied under two “ant men” (Drs. Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson), began in earnest his research on honey bees, and earned his Ph.D. in 1978. He then taught at Yale for several years, but in 1986 he moved home to Ithaca, to work in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell, where he has been ever since. In recognition of his scientific work, he has received the Alexander von Humboldt Distinguished U.S. Scientist Award, been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and been elected a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has summarized his work in five books: Honeybee Ecology (1985), The Wisdom of the Hive (1995), Honeybee Democracy (2010), Following the Wild Bees (2016) and The Lives of Bees (2019).