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 - in 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 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.
sharing research and passions with others
Planted pollinator habitat in agroecosystems: How does the pollinator community respond?
Hannah K. Levenson and David R. Tarpy
Frontiers: Ecology and Evolution, 2023, https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2023.1060834
In response to pollinator declines, conservation methods such as augmented pollinator habitat are becoming popular tools to combat pollinator losses. However, further research on how this will impact bee communities in real-world settings is needed. Here, we use a 2016 initiative mandating the planting of pollinator habitat on research stations across North Carolina as an outdoor laboratory. From 2016 to 2018, we found significant increases in bee abundance and diversity. However, these increases depended on the quality of habitat, with areas of higher flower cover and diversity supporting larger, more diverse bee communities. Although we found the need for regular upkeep and maintenance of pollinator habitat in order to appropriately support bee communities. It is likely that planting pollinator habitat will not be a one-size-fits-all conservation solution, as bee species can respond differently to some habitat characteristics.
NC Blueberry Council - $11,200
Received February 2023
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 Podcasts 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