Hollis Woodard is an assistant professor of entomology at UC Riverside.

SALLY RIDE SCIENCE — Hollis Woodard sees bumblebees as the pandas of the insect world.

“They are a very charismatic bee,” she said. “They are big and chunky and fuzzy. They move kind of slow, so you can watch them bumbling around. People are pretty attracted to them.”

But what fascinates Woodard about bumblebees goes beyond their endearing fuzziness. As an assistant professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside, she studies bumblebees in the lab and tracks them in extreme environments from the Alaskan tundra to the Sonoran desert.

Woodard is exploring how bumblebees evolved their social behaviors. She is also monitoring how these bees are faring as climate change transforms their habitats. And she is providing insights about what we can do to protect these pollinators and the crucial part they play in our food supply.

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