Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Professor Geraldine Wright

Professor of Insect Neuroethology



DPhil Zoology Oxford
MAS Statistics Ohio State
BSc(Hons) Botany Wyoming


Research Interests

My lab studies of the behaviour, neurophysiology, and nutritional ecology of honeybees and bumblebees.

Honeybees and bumblebees live in eusocial colonies comprised of a reproductive queen and her sterile daughters (workers). All of the bees in a colony eat floral nectar and pollen collected by the workers. My lab studies how worker bees learn to identify floral traits like scent with nutrients they find in nectar. We also study how bees regulate their intake of macronutrients like carbohydrates and proteins.

Flowers sometimes harbour nectar and pollen that contains deadly toxins. We are currently studying the mechanisms bees have for detecting and avoiding toxins found in food.  Surprisingly, we found that some plant toxins act like drugs to influence bee behaviour. For example, we found that caffeine in the floral nectar of coffee and citrus plants causes bees to have better memories of their floral scents. We have also recently identified that bees are attracted to eat more of foods containing certain pesticides found in nectar. These pesticides (neonicotinoids) target nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in insects and cause complex changes in bee behaviour that include altering their perception of the rewarding qualities of nectar.  








Undergraduate Teaching 

BIO3006 Plant-Animal Interactions

BIO3022 Residential Field Course (Millport and Crete) 

BIO3096 Undergraduate Research Projects