Dr. Hannah K. Levenson
Postdoctoral Research Scholar
Hannah K. Levenson is a postdoctoral research scholar at North Carolina State University. She is currently co-PI for the NCSU subaward of a USDA NIFA grant, an objective co-lead for the Sustainable Spotted Wing Drosophila project (https://swdmanagement.org/), and lead of the Specialty Crops IPPM Lab.
Hannah has demonstrated experience with coordinating large projects, both in geographic area and personnel. She is also skilled in science communication - through professional, extension, and outreach settings - as well as mentoring. Get in touch to find out more!
As a community ecologist I am broadly interested in investigating how humans impact the environment and exploring ways we can mitigate those impacts. However, when we interact with the environment it can also have an impact on us by changing our behaviors, how we think, and how we identify ourselves. The tools I use to explore these interactions are pollinators in agricultural settings.
My dissertation research focused on evaluating the effectiveness of planting pollinator habitat on NCDA&CS Experimental Agricultural Research Station across the state as a conservation method to support native bee populations. The results from this work will provide the most detailed survey of native bees in NC to date. In addition, I evaluated the potential of this habitat to instigate the spread of pathogens between bee species and measured the effect of the habitat's presence on nearby crop quality and quantity.
Currently, in my postdoctoral research, I am investigating the complex interactions between protecting beneficial insects and managing crop pests with the overall goal being to protect environmental health in agroecosystems. I am working to develop Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management (IPPM) recommendations for berry growers affected by the invasive fruit fly pest, spotted wing drosophila (SWD; Drosophila suzukii). To do this, I work closely with blackberry growers across NC to better understand their management decision making processes and provide real-time updates on data we collect in their fields. Together with project collaborators from 10+ different states across the US, we aim to make the management of SWD more sustainable.
Our world is very connected and actions people make in one area can affect the lives of everyone. Thus, I value working on larger geographic scales, especially internationally. Previously I worked as a field assistant in The Bahamas on a project evaluating how patch reef quality and predator presence affect fish communities as a way to explore the impacts of reef degradation and overfishing. I also have designed and led an independent research project with Peace Corps Volunteers measuring disease occurrence in managed honey bee colonies in northern rural Peru and evaluated the potential spread of those pathogens to wild and native bees. In the future, I hope to continue to build international connections and collaborations.
sharing research and passions with others
Effects of planted pollinator habitat on pathogen prevalence and interspecific detection between bee species
Hannah K. Levenson and David R. Tarpy
Scientific Reports, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-11734-3
Shared resources can instigate pathogen spread due to large congregations of individuals, of current concern is the addition of pollinator habitat in conservation efforts. To evaluate the impact of augmented pollinator habitat on pathogen prevalence, we extracted RNA from samples of eight bee species and screened these samples for nine pathogens. We found that some habitat characteristics influenced pathogen detection; however, we found no evidence that pathogen detection in one bee species was correlated with pathogen detection in another. In fact, pathogen detection was rare in wild bees. Further, virus detection in honey bees was low. These findings suggest factors other than the habitat itself may be more critical in the dissemination of pathogens among bee species.
NCSU Impact Scholar - $1000
Received December 2021
NCSU's Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology's Excellence in Entomology Award - $500
Received June 2021
NCSU STEM Externship with 4-H - $1,500
Received May 2021
1st place - North Carolina Entomological Society's 3-minute thesis competition
Received October 2020
North Carolina Entomological Society's Outstanding PhD Student
Received October 2019
Center for Environmental Farming Systems Graduate Fellow - $10,000
Received July 2019
Southern SARE Graduate Student Grant - $16,500
Received August 2019
Garden Club of America's Centennial Pollinator Fellowship - $4,000
Received March 2019
International Pollinator Conference's Travel Award - $500
Received March 2019
Extension, Outreach, and Presentations
Bee Identification Workshop
Co-created with Assistant Professor, Elsa Youngsteadt, this workshop is a day long course designed to introduce participants to bee identification. Participants receive our identification guide, a workbook, hands on training, and field experience.
North Carolina Pollinator Conservation Alliance
The NCPCA is a partnership of 20+ organizations all focused on supporting the health and diversity of NC's pollinators through protection, restoration, and creation of pollinator habitat. As a founding member, Hannah has participated in outreach and research development.
National Honey Bee Veterinary Consortium Conference
Hannah has given over 20 academic presentations including several invited talks, like the one pictured here. She was invited to give a training presentation at the first ever National Honey Bee Veterinary Consortium which was created by professors at NC State.
Videos and Podcast on Hannah's Research
Check out NCSU's Homegrown video: https://homegrown.extension.ncsu.edu/2020/08/bee-wasp-or-fly-identifying-n-c-bees/
Check out this NCSU News article: https://news.ncsu.edu/2020/02/the-buzz-about-native-bees/
Check out NCSU's Homegrown video: https://homegrown.extension.ncsu.edu/2019/08/growing-a-pollinator-garden/
Check out the PolliNation podcast: http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/pollinationpodcast/2019/05/19/97-hannah-levenson-regional-bee-communities-and-the-plants-they-like/
Check out the Tarpy Lab's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uuwl9QZepoo&feature=youtu.be