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Dr. Etya Amsalem

Etya Amsalem

Pennsylvania State University

Research Interests

Social insects, social behavior, chemical ecology, evolution, physiology, genetic, genomics, pheromones, hormones, reproduction, diapause, bumblebees, fire ants, mason bees

My lab at Pennsylvania State University studies social behavior and social insect health. We combine perspectives from chemical ecology, evolutionary biology, genetic, genomics, behavior and physiology and use various insect models such as bumblebees, fire ants and mason bees to study the remarkable diversity of insect social behaviors. We study social evolution and the mechanistic basis of social behavior and combine applied aspects related to bee management, productivity and health.

Current projects in my lab include the study of the hormonal, physiological and genetic regulation of reproductive division of labor in bumblebee colonies. Specifically, the role of signals produced by the brood, queen and workers in shaping the social organization and the story these signals can tell us about the evolution of sociality. We further study the evolution of chemical signals in bees of various social organizations. We look at the production and perception of signals, their role, the context by which they operate, the genes that regulate their biosynthesis and their molecular evolution.

Among the more applied aspects of our research, we study the regulation of life history traits in bumblebees such as diapause and caste determination underpinning the productivity and performances of bumblebee queens and colonies. Bees are important pollinators for natural and agriculture crops but are facing global drastic declines in health and productivity. We study the reasons for these declines. Especially, we are interested in the process underlying the “making of a queen” - in the mechanisms determining the differentiation of queens, in the physiological preparation towards being a queen, and in the internal and external factors underpinning being a successful queen.  


2016-Today: Assistant Professor of Entomology at Pennsylvania State University.

2001-2004: B.Sc. in Medical and Life Sciences from Tel Aviv University

2005-2007: M.Sc in the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University

2007-2011: Ph.D in the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University.


Postdoctoral experience:

2011-2012:  Postdoctoral fellow at Tel Aviv University (Hefetz lab)

2012-2015: BARD postdoctoral fellow at Penn State University (Grozinger lab)

2016: Postdoctoral fellow at Haifa and Penn State Universities (Privman lab)