The popular saying celebrating the importance of agriculture, “No Farms, No Food,” could easily shift to “No Bees, No Food” if solutions to the honeybee decline are not found.
Which is why Troy Anderson, Virginia Tech insect toxicologist, is making inroads toward understanding why the honeybee — the most widely managed crop pollinator — is disappearing in droves.
While pesticides have been implicated in the reduced number of bee colonies available for crop pollination services, several gaps remain in the knowledge about pesticide exposures and the health status of bees in order to understand the decimation of these pollinators. Anderson’s team uses a multidisciplinary approach to study bee decline, including pesticide residue analysis, nutrition and immune physiology, and population dynamics modeling.
“We need to gather information where knowledge is lacking to predict conditions that are favorable or unfavorable for bee health,” Anderson said. “Our research is being translated into management practices to reduce bee losses for the apiculture and agriculture industries. These practices will not only minimize annual losses of bees; they will also improve the health of these pollinators and enhance crop pollination services.”
Pablo Sobrado is working on vaccines that could benefit people in the poorest parts of the world.
Millions of people worldwide suffer from tuberculosis, Chagas disease, and fungal infections, yet current treatment is expensive and minimally effective.
To combat these diseases, researcher Pablo Sobrado is developing drugs that may be able to help stop the illnesses in some of the poorest parts of the world.
“Our work is focused on understanding these diseases so that we can develop treatments that are not only effective, but affordable,” Sobrado said.
In addition to operating an infectious disease research program, Sobrado also serves on the steering committee of Virginia Tech’s Center for Drug Discovery and as the director of the center’s screening lab, located in the Fralin Life Science Institute. Formed in 2012, the center’s mission is to accelerate research that could lead to new treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, tuberculosis, fungal infections, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, diseases of the central nervous system, and parasitic diseases such as malaria and Chagas disease.