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Dr. Hannah K. Levenson

Postdoctoral Research Scholar

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About

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 - in professional, extension, and outreach settings - as well as mentoring. Get in touch to find out more!

Research Interests

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 main tools I use to explore these interactions are beneficial organisms, particularly pollinators, in agricultural settings.


My dissertation research focused on evaluating the effectiveness of planting pollinator habitat on NCDA&CS Experimental Agricultural Research Stations across the state as a conservation method to support native bee populations. The results from this work provides 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 diseases to wild and native bees. In the future, I hope to continue to build international connections and collaborations.

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Publications

sharing research and passions with others

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Pollinator communities in a blackberry cropping system under intense pest management

Hannah K. Levenson and Hannah J. Burrack

Acta Horticulturae. 2024. 10.17660/ActaHortic.2024.1388.30

Caneberry production in the United States exceeds $ 250 million dollars annually, with market demand expected to continue to increase. Cultivation of caneberries is threatened from pathogens and pests, and one of the most economically damaging pests is an invasive fruit fly, spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). In attempts to manage pests, pesticide use has increased exponentially, with many growers spraying pesticides at least weekly. A concern from increased pesticide use is the loss of beneficial insects which can aid in controlling secondary pests and, of current concern, pollination. Unfortunately, little is known about the effects of pest management on the pollinator communities of caneberries. Using the blackberry cropping system in North Carolina, we surveyed the insect flower-visiting community and collected fruit quality measurements to explore how pest management may affect pollinator communities. We documented blackberry flower visitors from 5 insect orders and at least 20 different bee species. Pollinator abundance and diversity differed between field edges and field interiors and was important for some fruit measurements. Additionally, we found multiple insect species nesting within commercial blackberry fields inside old canes, with about 69% of collected canes occupied by insect nests. We urge pest management programs in blackberries be updated to better protect these important pollinator communities.

Pollinator communities in a blackberry cropping system under intense pest management

CV

Selected Accomplishments

Grant

Southern SARE - $30,000

Received February 2023

Grant

NC Blueberry Council - $11,200

Received February 2023

Fellowship

NCSU Impact Scholar - $1000

Received December 2021

Award

NCSU's Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology's Excellence in Entomology Award - $500

Received June 2021

Externship

NCSU STEM Externship with 4-H - $1,500

Received May 2021

Award

1st place - North Carolina Entomological Society's 3-minute thesis competition

Received October 2020

Award

North Carolina Entomological Society's Outstanding PhD Student

Received October 2019

Fellowship

Center for Environmental Farming Systems Graduate Fellow - $10,000

Received July 2019

Grant

Southern SARE Graduate Student Grant - $16,500

Received August 2019

Grant

Garden Club of America's Centennial Pollinator Fellowship - $4,000

Received March 2019

Grant

International Pollinator Conference's Travel Award - $500

Received March 2019

Extension, Outreach, and Presentations

Selected Events

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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.

Hannah K. Levenson's Full CV (as of May 2024)

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Get in Touch

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