Welcome to the Russell Lab at Missouri State University! We focus on the behavioral and evolutionary ecology of interactions among plants, animals, and their microbial associates, with a particular emphasis on pollinator cognition.

We care deeply about equity and science education, we strive to be anti-racist, and we are dedicated to communicating our passion about insects, plants, and natural history, and facilitating diversity, equity, and inclusion in science.

We live and work on unceded traditional territory of the Kiikaapoi, Sioux, and Osage.

Lab achievements

November 2020

Undergraduate researcher Vanessa Morales gives a research talk at the Idea Network of Biomedical Research (INBRE) and is awarded an honorable mention!

Undergraduate researcher Abilene Mosher gives a poster presentation at the CNAS Undergrad Research Symposium and is awarded 2nd place!

October 2020

Undergraduate researcher Abilene Mosher is awarded a Beta Beta Beta (TriBeta) Honor Society research grant!

June 2019

Undergraduate researcher Stephanie Sanders is awarded a Sigma Xi Grant in Aid of Research!

In the news


Interview with Ashley Lenahan at CNAS NewsWatch on our floral mimicry and bee cognition research!


Interview with David Cornelison at KSMU Stem Spots on bee behavior and cognition, flower evolution, and microbial interactions!

Interview with Kimberly Barlow at Pittwire on bee friendly habitats!

Interview and podcast with Matt Candeias at In Defense of Plants on bee behavior and cognition, flower evolution, and microbial interactions!


Our Journal of Insect Science work on cactus bee mating behavior makes the front cover (in the Nov 2018 issue) and is in Entomology Today by Joe Rominiecki!

Our Evolution work on the evolution of floral sonication behavior makes the front cover, is in Scientias by Jente Ottenburghs and in University of Arizona News by !


Our Behavioral Ecology work on flexible and effective pollen foraging in the absence of learning, in University of Arizona News and EurekAlert! by Daniel Stolte and in the SICB BioScience Talks podcast!

Our Scientific Reports work on patterns of bee foraging specialization, in University of Arizona News and EurekAlert! by Daniel Stolte, in Digital Trends by Dyllan Furness, in The Daily Wildcat by Rebekah Ulmer, in The RFID Journal by Claire Swedberg, in Discovery Channel – Canada, and Televisa Chapultepec!


Our Animal Behaviour work is covered by the New York Times!

Our Evolutionary Ecology work on bees’ biased color learning covered by Dr. Peter Zschunke in Albiflora!

Interview with Steve Goldstein at National Public Radio KJZZ 91.5 on our Animal Behaviour work!

Our Animal Behaviour work on bees not needing to learn how to collect pollen, in the New York Times, by Robin Lindsay and James Gorman!

Our Behavioral Ecology pollen foraging research, in University of Arizona News, by Robin Tricoles!

All photos copyright Avery Russell