3MT 2023 Finalist  Robert Lu

Robert Lu

Biological Sciences, College of Natural and Applied Sciences

Genes, Bees, & Viral Disease

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

I am currently researching novel advancements in honey bee health using molecular biology and bioinformatics. Specifically, I am interested in how bees interact with parasitic varroa mites and especially their associated vectored viruses. My research is intended to pave the way towards new and more sustainable methods of varroa mite control, through the principles of integrated pest management aimed towards combining preventative and biological control methods to reduce chemical pesticide use.

How did presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help explain your research to the public?

Through the 3MT, I have come to better understand the most important facets of my research, which was instrumental for condensing all the work put into the project down to a 3-minute presentation.

What inspires you to do research?

I believe the fundamental ways in which the universe works to be extremely interesting, and no system do I find more interest in than that of living organisms. I also believe that there is significant good which can be contributed to society by conducting novel research and demystifying these natural systems. Thus, I see research as the key way in which I can help improve society, while doing it in a way that I enjoy.

What are three key words important to your 3MT?

Apiculture, Virology, Genetic screening

How does your research impact local, provincial, or global communities at large?

As honey bees are a key facet of the global food supply, that which threatens their survival also threatens ours. Unfortunately, due to the emergent threat of the varroa-virus dyad, honey bee populations have faced unsustainable colony losses worldwide. By improving clinical outcomes for honey bees infected with viruses, my research will hopefully contribute to curtailing such losses.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

I would like to dedicate my research to all the scientists which have come before me, as without their contributions not only to the fields I work in but towards the development of science at large, none of what I do and am passionate over would be possible.

3MT Image Description: A magnifying glass over a bee, showing a stylized cartoon depiction of a gene fighting off a virus with boxing gloves.

Watch Robert's Three Minute Thesis