New grant funds Penn State pollinator program

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A USDA grant will enhance a Penn State graduate program in entomology and ecology aimed at solving the problem of pollinator decline.

The $262,000 award will support the graduate program in integrative pollinator ecology at Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research.

The five-year USDA grant will support three graduate fellows for three years each, according to Christina Grozinger, director of the Center for Pollinator Research. Additional funding for a fourth student will be provided by the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences’ Intercollege Graduate Program in Ecology.

Pollinators

Nearly 90 percent of flowering plant species and 75 percent of global agricultural crops use animal-mediated pollination to set seed and produce fruit.

Pollination services contribute $25 billion to the U.S. economy in the form of increased crop yield alone and $20 billion in additional value to agriculture-related sectors.

But scientists are seeking solutions to declines in managed and wild pollinators around the world.

American beekeepers lose an average of 30 percent of their honey bee colonies each winter and 25 percent during the summer to a combination of factors, including parasitic mites, viral diseases and loss of habitat and food sources.

Program

Grozinger explained that fellows in the program have two co-advisers, each from different scientific disciplines. The graduate students have flexibility to create projects that span their co-advisers’ disciplines.

Students will translate and communicate scientific information to audiences such as K-12 students, growers, beekeepers or policymakers.

Grozinger said the USDA grant also contains funding to support graduate fellows’ travel to conduct international research with collaborators.

The USDA grant builds on funding the program received last year through the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Strategic Networks and Initiatives Program.

Apply. The application deadline for the program is Dec. 20. More information is available at http://ento.psu.edu/pollinators/graduate-training-program.

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