The Easterner

Professor studies health benefits of bees

Professor Jenifer Walke hands-on with her bees. Walke is researching beneficial bacteria for humans produced by bees.

Courtesy of www.walkelab.com

Professor Jenifer Walke hands-on with her bees. Walke is researching beneficial bacteria for humans produced by bees.

By Kaisa Siipola

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While EWU strives to recognize academic success from its students, it’s important to highlight academic success from faculty members as well.

Over the summer, EWU assistant professor Jenifer Walke received an email confirming her grant proposal from the National Science Foundation that was submitted in November 2017.

The grant awards an amount of $208,415 over four years for her research proposal on the study of beneficial bacteria for humans that is inside the guts of bees.

Ultimately, Walke’s research could indicate insight to improving health by manipulating human microorganisms, according to an EWU press release.

There are many ways that the grant money will be utilized.

Developing a biology and computer science module for elementary school students will be one benefit to the grant. The grant will fund student researchers’ work on the project, research equipment and travel expenses to conferences, according to Walke.

Walke is aspiring to share and expand her research by organizing a conference with local and state beekeeping associations in February 2019, which will host renowned researchers and keynote speaker the “Bee Girl,”  from the Bee Girl organization.

Walke is also trying to get EWU certified as a bee-friendly campus through the organization Bee City USA, and has already connected with departments on campus such as the visual communication design department, Sustainability, the Office of Community Engagement and the EWU Common Read “The Good Food Revolution.”

“This whole area of research is a team effort,” Walke said.

There are honey bee hives located at the campus garden, which is behind the EWU Red Barn, that are utilized for research and viewing purposes.

Students interested in learning more about Walke’s research can visit www.walkelab.com •

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Professor studies health benefits of bees