Rosemary L. Malfi, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scholar
Dept. Entomology
University of California
Davis, CA

I earned my B.A. in Biology in 2007 from Bryn Mawr College, an all-women's liberal arts institution located just outside of Philadelphia, PA.  Upon graduation, I spent two years working at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP) as a lab manager for the in-house Patrick Center for Environmental Research (PCER). There, I worked on water quality monitoring and restoration projects in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), the  USGS, and the EPA. During my time at ANSP, I also served as the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program Coordinator.

In 2009, I joined the graduate research program in
Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, where I earned my Ph.D. (2015) under the advisement of Dr. T'ai Roulston. My doctoral research focused on the influence that flower (i.e. food) availability and parasitism have on bumblebee (Bombus spp.) population dynamics, and evaluated how risks associated with these factors vary among species within a community. Integrating field observations, parasite analysis, colony manipulations, the use of radio frequency technology, and simulation modeling, my dissertation investigated these sources of environmental influence independently and interactively through studies that focus on bumblebee populations and environmental risks present in northern Virginia.  

Among the bumblebee parasites I have studied is the microsporidian Nosema bombi, which has been implicated in the decline of certain bumblebee species in the U.S. In my work, I found that two rare species with shrinking distributions have higher incidences of Nosema infections, and that these infections also tend to be more intense. We still have much to learn about differences in the virulence of this and other pathogens among bumblebee species, and how environmental factors (e.g. nutrition) may influence the effects of an infection at both the level of the individual bee and the entire colony. 

During my time at UVa, I became especially interested in the interaction between bumblebees and one of their parasitoids, the conopid fly. Although the basic biology of this interaction has been described, little is currently known about the ecology of this host-parasitoid relationship, particularly in North America. I have worked with undergraduate research collaborators to investigate multiple aspects of this interaction relating to behavioral ecology, population ecology, and even physiology. You can read more about my research under the "Research" and "People" tabs of this website.

In September 2015, I started as a postdoctoral scholar in the the lab of Dr. Neal Williams at UC Davis, where I am continuing to research bumblebee ecology. Specifically, I am working on a large field experiment designed to understand how seasonal patterns of food availability affect bumblebee colony foraging dynamics, growth, and reproduction (i.e. demographic responses).  This work is being done in collaboration with the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Crone at Tufts University. You can read more about the details of this project here.