Avery Leigh Russell – Principal Investigator


Avery is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Missouri State University. He is a behavioral and evolutionary ecologist interested in how flexibility in foraging behavior shapes the ecology and evolution of plant-animal-microbial interactions. His current work focuses on how plant-pollinator reciprocal exploitation shapes foraging behavior, floral traits, and microbial associates.

View Avery’s CV
Twitter handle: @DrAverbee
Tweet about us: #RussellLab @MissouriState @MOStateResearch #MOSResearch

Rita Afagwu – Graduate Researcher

Rita AfagwuRita is a Master’s student who is interested in the study of the floral microbiomes of plants that are visited by pollinators. She likes to travel.


Moth Castagna – Graduate Researcher

Moth CastagnaMoth is a Master’s student with a background in wildlife biology and a passion for entomology. He has always been interested in nature – especially how insects interact with the world around them. They are looking forward to the rest of their time with the Russell Lab studying bumble bee foraging behavior and cognition!

Twitter handle: @Bombycoidea

Maggie Mayberry – Graduate Researcher

Maggie Mayberry

Maggie is a Master’s student studying wildlife biology with a strong interest in high school education. She spends most of her time outdoors with her dogs, Princess Bagels and Mac Aroniandcheese. Maggie has a passion for learning about animals of all sizes. She’s un-bee-lievably excited to study bee cognition and behavior!

Twitter handle: @maggiebaymerry

Jenny Burrow – Undergraduate Researcher


Jenny is an undergraduate studying wildlife biology with a minor in sign language studies. She loves nature and spends much of her time caring for her cat, snail, and several plants. Jenny is interested in animal behavior and conservation, and she is very excited to explore the world of bees with the Russell Lab!

Twitter handle: @jen_k_bees
Instagram: @jennyk.bee

Krista Cockrum – Undergraduate Researcher

Krista Cockrum

Krista is an undergraduate excited to expand her understanding of bee behavior and ecology in the Russell lab! She is especially interested in exploring the relationship between bees and plants found within prairie ecosystems.

Twitter handle: @krista_cockrum
Instagram: @lovecreatecultivate

Charlotte Davis – Undergraduate Researcher

Charlotte DavisCharlotte is an undergrad student getting a Wildlife Biology and Fisheries degree. She joined the lab to gain more hands-on lab experience while also fostering her childhood love of all things insects.

Twitter handle: @gnomeble

Ciara Stewart – Undergraduate Researcher

Ciara StewartCiara is an undergraduate studying microbiology. She is interested in dipping her toes in bee behavior research as well as advocacy for ecology and sustainability. Ciara enjoys hiking with her dog, playing guitar, and gardening.


Lab Alumni

Annaliese Novinger – Undergraduate Researcher

Annaliese NovingerAnnaliese earned her B.S. in Spring 2023 with a major in Biology and minors in Art and Sustainability. Annaliese is working toward an advanced degree in insect behavior. She is looking forward to learning about bee ecology and behavior. Annaliese worked in the lab from Spring 2022 – Spring 2023.



Carter Stoelzel – Undergraduate Researcher

Carter StoelzelCarter is an undergraduate who completed his honors distinction project on pollinator education in the lab in Spring 2023. His interests are all things wildlife and conservation, but he particularly enjoys studying pollination. Carter worked in the lab from Fall 2022 – Spring 2023.



Abilene Mosher – Undergraduate Researcher

Abilene Abilene Mosher2earned her B.S. in Fall 2022 with a major in wildlife conservation and management. Abilene is working in wildlife biology with interests in ecology. She is excited to learn more about bee-havior! Abilene worked in the lab from Fall 2019 – Fall 2022

Twitter handle: @AbbyMosher1
Instagram: @spookyabilene


Haley Muse – Undergraduate Researcher

Haley MuseHaley earned her B.S. in Spring 2022 with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. Her drive is to help inspire peoples’ compassion for nature through a combination of art and research; she had her first creative piece published in 2020. Haley is excited to start playing adult simulator ver. 2.2, and is looking forward to completing achievements under the “Bee Gut Microbiome” quest with her teammates. Haley worked in the lab from Fall 2021 – Summer 2022.


Katie Naumer – Undergraduate Researcher

Katie earned her B.S. in Spring 2022 with a biology major and chemistry minor. She loves hiking and being outdoors, and is excited to find out what the buzz is on behavioral ecology! Katie worked in the lab from Fall 2021 – Summer 2022.


Parker Campbell – Graduate Researcher


Parker is a Master’s student who gets excited about all things outdoors. She is excited to get to keep playing around in the lab, and learning more about how the world works around her. She is specifically excited to learn more about both bee behavior and the bee microbiome and will keep polishing her microbiology skills and her budding interests in behavior and ecology. Parker is taking a pause while she builds her environmental consulting career with Cattails Environmental, LLC.

Twitter handle: @runnergirl_fane
Instagram: @parker_fane

Rachel Wilkins – Research Associate

Former lab members who have gone on to bigger and better things! We miss them dearly!

Rachel WilkinsRachel received her Master’s degree in entomology from Kansas State University in May 2020. She is passionate about conservation and excited to learn more about plant-insect interactions. She will be researching how differences in anther morphology affect plant and bee fitness. In her free time, you can find Rachel outside playing with her dogs and chickens, collecting insects, or gardening! Rachel worked in the lab from Spring 2021 – Summer 2022 and is now the Kansas State Entomologist.

Twitter handle: @rvw1234

Kate Trebing – Undergraduate Researcher

KateTrebingKate is an undergraduate studying microbiology with a minor in chemistry. Her primary area of interest is microbiomes and how they impact animals, especially bees! When Kate’s not in the lab, she loves to backpack in the mountains, cook new foods, and watch Jeopardy reruns. Kate worked in the lab from Summer 2021 – Spring 2022

Twitter handle: @micro_forensic
Instagram: @katee.treb

Dalton McCart – Undergraduate Researcher

DaltonMcCartDalton earned his B.S. in Fall 2021 studying biology. His interests are in rehabilitation ecology, conservation, entomology, botany, and marine sciences. Dalton is excited to join the Russell lab to explore pollinator behavior. Dalton worked in the lab from Summer 2021 – Fall 2021.

Twitter handle: @SaltyBiologist

Liam Wilson – Undergraduate Researcher


Liam earned his B.S. in Spring 2022 in environmental and evolutionary biology. His primary area of interest is behavioral patterns in animals, which he hopes will be furthered while working in Dr. Russell’s lab. Liam also really enjoys being outdoors, specifically northern regions, playing music in the MSU PRIDE band and has an almost obsessive love of penguins. Liam worked in the lab from Fall 2019 – 2021.

Twitter handle: @Simple_Liam
Instagram: law1wilson

Evelyn VanDenBerg – Visiting Undergraduate Researcher

Evelyn VanDenBergEvelyn is an undergraduate student (visiting from Drake University) studying biology and environmental science. She is looking forward to learning more about pollinators and how interconnected the relationship is between the species richness of pollinators and the health of ecosystems surrounding them. Evelyn worked in the lab in Summer 2021.


Vanessa Morales – Undergraduate Researcher

Vanessa Morales

Vanessa earned her B.S. in Spring 2021 studying wildlife biology. She loves animals of all kind, and likes to observe and identify those she finds around her family ranch. Vanessa is especially excited to learn about the behavior and life of some of our planet’s smallest workers – bees! Vanessa worked in the lab from Fall 2020 – Spring 2021.


Steph Sanders – Undergraduate Researcher

Steph Sanders

Steph earned her B.S. in Spring 2021 studying wildlife biology with a minor in biochemistry. She is very interested in animal behavior and training. Steph also loves bees! She’s been keeping bees for three years now and is excited to expand her adoration for bees by learning about their cognitive abilities as well as expanding her bee pun vocabulary! Steph’s buzzing with excitement! Steph worked in the lab from Spring 2020 – 2021.

Twitter handle: @steffsandwich
Instagram: @steffsanders

Randie Rogers – Undergraduate Researcher

Randie Rogers

Randie is studying evolutionary biology and chemistry. She is fascinated with insects! She is ecstatic to research bees! She loves hiking and adventuring all around the country. Her hobbies include mushroom collecting in her hometown and identifying insects for all of her friends from poorly taken photos. She is currently taking a temporary break from her undergraduate studies. Randie worked in the lab in Fall 2020.

Twitter handle: @Randsherm
Instagram: @randsherm

Faith Dall – Undergraduate Researcher


Faith Dall earned her B.S. in Fall 2020 studying biology with a minor in chemistry. She loves all things cute and small, including our lovely little bee friends! She’s excited to be able to work with live critters and learn new techniques in the lab! In her free time she likes to collect plants to add to her mini forest that’s slowly accumulating in my apartment (all plant cuttings welcome) *hint hint*. Faith worked in the lab from Fall 2020 – Summer 2021.

Twitter handle: @callmeDALLface