AMHERST — UMass Amherst biologist Lynn Adler has won the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize for her research demonstrating that different kinds of wildflowers can have markedly different effects on the health and reproduction rate of bumblebees.
“My lab studies the role that flowers play in pollinator health and disease transmission,” Adler said. “Flowers are, of course, a food source for pollinators, but, in some cases, nectar or pollen from specific plants can be medicinal. However, flowers are also high-traffic areas, and just like with humans, high-traffic areas can be hotspots for disease transmission. We’re tracing how different populations of wildflowers can help or hinder pollinators and what floral characteristics affect pollinators in which ways.”
Adler’s work is especially important given what many have come to call the “insect apocalypse,” or the rapid, worldwide die-off of insects due to climate change, pesticides, and loss of habitat. By some estimates, up to 75% of insect life may have vanished in the past 50 years.
“It’s an honor to have my research recognized by the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize,” Adler said. “Pollinators are so important for the health of our world — they affect everything from the abundance of our agriculture to flourishing biodiversity. It’s validating to receive recognition of the practical, public importance of finding effective ways to help pollinators.”
Established in 2018 by UMass Amherst alumni and siblings Richard, Robert, and William Mahoney, the prize is an annual competition for scientists in the College of Natural Sciences at UMass engaged in high-impact life-sciences research. It seeks to recognize and honor excellence, advance translatable research that addresses a significant challenge, and enhance collaborative relationships between life-sciences researchers and industry.
“We are proud to support the world-class research being carried out at UMass through the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize,” said Richard Mahoney, former CEO and chairman of Monsanto. “It is critical that we do all we can to strengthen and promote the links between scientific innovation and industrial applications that solve critical problems and improve people’s lives. Dr. Adler’s research is exemplary, providing solutions for a crucial biological need and fostering the next generation of biologists as they pursue tomorrow’s discoveries. The incredible breakthroughs that happen locally at UMass Amherst continue to place UMass at the forefront of research institutions everywhere.”