Samantha Alger is a PhD candidate in the biology department at the University of Vermont and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Her dissertation research is focused on RNA viruses in wild bumble bee species and transmission routes of viruses between managed honey bees and wild bumble bees. She currently works to improve the health of both managed and wild bees through research, education, and outreach. In 2014, Samantha spearheaded Vermont's involvement with the National Honey Bee Survey, a nationwide effort to gather baseline data on bee disease. She manages the survey for Vermont and works closely with beekeepers each summer to inspect apiaries and collect samples across the state. Samantha is working with the Vermont Apiary Inspection Program to develop methods to better prioritize hive inspections and implement hypothesis driven research to understand factors driving bee health. Committed to bridging the communication gap between bee researchers and beekeepers, Samantha regularly attends and presents at meetings for beekeeping organizations. With the support of these beekeeping clubs, she is leading a crowd-funded project to examine the role of migratory beekeeping in the spread of disease. Samantha has provided expert testimony on bills aimed to protect pollinator species. In 2016, she was invited to present her research to the Vermont Pollinator Protection Committee and contributed to the final report to legislature published in February 2017. Samantha is driven by her interest in both disease ecology and conservation and envisions a career as an educator, researcher, spokesperson, and leader in the protection of pollinators.
Prior to graduate school, Samantha worked on numerous conservation initiatives and outreach projects which included monitoring federally endangered American Burying Beetles for Nantucket's reintroduction program, surveying songbirds through montane forests of the Northeast, and developing and instructing environmental education programs for both children and adults. Samantha holds Bachelor's degrees in both Business Administration and Biology from the University of Rhode Island.
Samantha's passion for pollinators began during a serendipitous beekeeping apprenticeship on Hawaii's Big Island. She now runs a small apiary at her home in Vermont.