Compounds Without Borders! Available from PLoS Computational Biology!

Since the 2013 publication from our lab showing that agrochemical odor pollution has negative impacts on bumblebee foraging behavior we had been working on how to quantify odors, in order to be able to quantify odor-pollution. This was a non-trivial problem, as most methods of odor representation are statistical in nature, which means that changes the stimulus set (i.e. the odors you are looking at) changes the quantitative relationship between stimuli. Seven years, multiple experimental paradigms, and many many hours of work in the lab resulted in this publication. Here we demonstrate the efficacy of a multidimensional space that represents the stimulus energy of complex odor blends based on their functional group and carbon characteristics. This computational method is effective at both describing and predicting bumblebee behavior in an associative odor learning task.

New Spraylab Members

Welcome to Vanessa Pham and Jess Sommer! Vanessa will be working on odor coding via PER, while Jess will be training under Katie to become our new wind-tunnel guru before Katie graduates. The hardest part of an undergraduate research lab is how quickly we have to say goodbye.

Brain Camp 2018!

SprayLab hosted three fantastic high school students for a week of research: Bronwyn Meldrum, Melissa Peters, and Julia Sysko. In four afternoons they learned how to do PER in bumblebees and collected data on learning of integrative visual and olfactory information. They were here for Brain Camp, a week of learning about Neuroscience funded by the Sentience Foundation.

Catching bees in the dark

Bombus impatiens ready for testing

Bronwyn trying to tempt bees

Melissa training bees

Bronwyn running a test trial