Felicity Muth, a postdoctoral fellow in the College of Science, has been awarded a fellowship grant with the American Association of University Women for 2016-17.
As an AAUW American Fellow, Muth plans to use her fellowship to investigate a little-studied topic: episodic-like memory in bumblebees. Since 2013 Muth has worked in Anne Leonard's bee lab in the Department of Biology, and is excited to be able to continue her research here. Her work centers on cognition and animal behavior.
Her research has found that bees visit flowers to collect food (nectar and pollen), and in doing so learn multiple features of the flower, such as what color it is and how often the flower re-fills with nectar. However, despite the impressive cognitive abilities demonstrated in bees, no studies have addressed whether bees might be able to remember events from their past and plan for the future.
Given bee's remarkable memories for the flowers they visit, it seems likely that they can do this, which is what Muth is setting out to investigate. A demonstration of such memory in bees would be the first demonstration in an insect, putting bees on par with vertebrates such as rats and scrub jays.
Muth earned her bachelors degree in zoology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, before gaining her doctorate in animal cognition at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. She writes a blog for Scientific American Mind, "Not Bad Science."
American Fellowships, AAUW's oldest and largest funding program, date back to 1888, making them one of the oldest and most prestigious fellowships in the world exclusively for women. AAUW American Fellowships support women scholars who are completing doctoral dissertations, conducting postdoctoral research, or finishing research for publication.