Scientist Profiles Q-Z

Byron N Van Nest, PhD

Currently recruiting Graduate Students - Click here to learn more

Dr. Van Nest is always looking for exceptional graduate students. If you are interest in studying invertebrate neuroethology or behavioural ecology and want to pursue a MSc or PhD, please email me: (1) a cover letter, (2) a BRIEF research proposal, (3) your CV, and (4) your unofficial university transcripts. Note: your proposal is not necessarily the project you will work on; I just want to see how you think, how you write, and if you understand what types of scientific questions are relevant to my lab.

Appointments & Affiliations

Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Science
University of Manitoba

Research Information

honey bees, neuroethology, learning and memory, neural circuits, chronobiology, agent-based modelling, food-anticipatory activity, electrophysiology, pollination ecology

The Van Nest Lab conducts research in both invertebrate neuroethology and behavioural ecology. We study invertebrate species due to their smaller nervous systems. Not only is it easier to discover neural circuits in smaller brains, but smaller brains are also more computationally tractable. The fundamental neurobiology we learn from insects guides us in our pursuit to understand brain function in general, including in human brains.

Expanded Summary
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Some insects, such as the Hymenopterans (bees, ants, and wasps), are capable of performing surprisingly complex behaviours: counting, communicating, maintaining multiple spatiotemporal memories, etc. This allows plenty of opportunity to investigate the neural mechanisms that produce complex behaviours. Some of the ongoing projects in our lab include:

Understanding honey bees’ perception and interpretation of modulated electric fields associated with the foraging recruitment dance language.

Using pharmacology and mathematical modelling of learning and memory to tease apart which honey bee brain regions learn different sensory modalities.

Investigating how urbanization affects yellowjacket wasp behaviour and correlations of serotonin and aggression in different wasp brain regions.

Understanding honey bee chemosensory systems and how canola plants use specific phytochemicals to take advantage of preferred pollinators.

Developing the Madagascar hissing cockroach as a new neuroethological model species.


Research Staff and Trainees


Contact Information

224 Biological Sciences Bldg
R3M 0P7

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