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Week Eight: Brown Bag Lecture

“Lessons From the Bee: How To Work As a Team When No One Knows What She Is Doing”
Speaker/Guide: Dr John Wenzel
University researcher, field researcher on insects, Department Chair
Location: Smith Wilkes Hall

Dr. John Wenzel will examine how bees organize their work in teams that divide labor efficiently as if they have an awareness of what the colony needs. They have only local information, no job foreman, no time clock, nor any knowledge of who their partners are in the team. A few simple rules govern this distributed decision-making, providing useful lessons for human teams.


Dr. John Wenzel started studying insects at age 19 when he was a field assistant in Panama to famous entomologist and sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson. His career has taken him to many remote locations around the world, with more than three years in the field in tropical America and Africa, and a year in Europe. He has held positions at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France, and at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. He joined Ohio State Department of Entomology in 1994, where he was a professor for 17 years and won the highest teaching award Ohio State gives. He served as Director of the OSU Museum of Biological Diversity for ten years. John joined the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 2011, where he has built new education and research programs at Powdermill Nature Reserve. John’s primary research has been on social insects such as ants, bees, and wasps, with a focus on the evolution of complex behavior and the organization of work. At Powdermill Nature Reserve, he founded an award-winning temperate ecology course for graduate students from Latin America. He and his staff also apply emerging technology to ecosystem science, such as their leading programs in using drones to capture landscape-level data, or using gigapixel technology to provide teaching tools for citizen scientists, and Virtual Reality 3D botanical models used for fun and teaching.

BTG's weekly Tuesday 12:15pm lecture platform features national experts presenting a range of topics concerning the natural world: wildlife, gardening, and the environment. Bring you lunch to Smith Wilkes Hall - lemon water provided. This signature lecture, usually with a slide show followed by Q&A, lasts approximately an hour. Engage with nature!

Earlier Event: August 14
Week Eight: Bird Talk and Walk
Later Event: August 14
Week Eight: Garden Walk