When not in the pool for GW's women's water polo team, junior Katherine Berry may be found behind a microscope examining pollen. The biology major is a key member of GWBuzz, the university's honey bee research and beekeeping organization. Berry's work with GWBuzz led to her inclusion on a panel at GW's Research and Education in Food and Nutrition Expo on March 28.
Berry was one of three panel members invited by GW's own First Lady, Diane Robinson Knapp, to speak in the kick-off segment, The Birds and the Bees: Urban Apiaries and Edible Gardens. Alongside Berry was Adele Ashkar, associate professor and director of the Landscape Design Program at GW, and Dr. Hartmut Doebel, assistant professor of biology at GW and founder of GWBuzz. The panel focused on how to effectively create gardens to boost natural ecosystems.
"My research parallels this topic," said Berry. "I helped explain the importance of promoting natural landscaping by feeding pollinators and natural fauna by planting natural flora."
GWBuzz's research is heavily funded by Founding Farmers, a local restaurant and proponent of sustainable eating. Berry's area of expertise is palynology, the study of pollen. In addition to developing a better understanding of what kinds of flowers GW's bees are pollinating throughout D.C., the Riverside, Calif., native is working to establish a methodology to enhance the caretaking of bees by beekeepers through nutrition.
Berry's interest in pollination stems from her childhood observation of the interaction between honeybees and an avocado grove at her home. She got her start in research last year after participating in the Harlan Trust Summer Research Program, which taught students the nuts and bolts of high-level research. Soon after, Berry was offered a position with the "Bee Lab" and helped transform the project into a well-organized and attention-grabbing venture. Diane Knapp's special interest in the endeavor, along with Berry's keen understanding of the business side of research and creation of the GWBuzz website, landed the junior a position as the only undergraduate panel member at the Expo.
The Food and Nutrition Expo featured four additional panels and concluded with a keynote speech by Dr. Neal Barnard, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at GW's School of Medicine and researcher of the role of nutrition in major health issues.
"The panel went very well and we had a full house," Berry said after the event. "My coach, Scott Reed, and his wife also attended my panel to watch me speak."
Berry will embark on a new season of beekeeping and research as spring begins in the nation's capital.
To learn more about GWBuzz and Katherine Berry's research click Here.