February 12, 2014
Since 2001, Dr. Kearns and Dr. Oliveras have been conducting surveys of bees in Boulder County, and they are still going strong. In 15 years, they have: identified differences in bee populations in remote versus urban environments of Boulder County, identifying seven quantitative environmental variables relating to urbanization; conducted a thorough comparison of their bee population and diversity data with a 100-year record of Front Range bee diversity; and are currently researching a possible link between genetic diversity and declining vs. stable bee species. In 2013, their surveys identified a rare western bumblebee that made headlines.
Through the years, their outreach has included talks to Audubon Society, Lyons Middle School, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Sierra Club, Denver Botanic Gardens, and Boulder Bee Safe Neighborhood Forum. They truly embody outreach to the public about one of the critical role of pollinators.
For many summer field seasons, Dr. Kearns and Dr. Oliveras have sought grants to hire undergraduate students, giving undergraduate students the opportunity to learn valuable research and survey techniques.
This all may seem normal for a regular faculty member of this university, however, the difference here is that Carol and Diane are Instructors in the Baker Residential Academic Program. There is little to no expectation of research, or of providing opportunities for undergraduates, or of outreach to the public with their positions at the University.
Their dedicated and detailed work in systematically surveying bees, one of Boulder County's greatest, yet less-noticed, assets, earned a campus sustainability award.