Jen Hayes holding a clipboard in the research garden plots

Jen Hayes fell in love with insects and ecology after spending two summers following native bees around orchards in Vermont and a few months studying pollinators in Ecuador.

After graduating with a B.S. in environmental studies, Jen moved to Oregon for an internship that didn’t quite work out. To Jen’s dismay, the internship quickly turned into an unpaid volunteer position. She finally landed a temp position in the Forest Animal Ecology Lab at OSU to finish up data collection and establish new protocols for a pollinator survey. After another seasonal position as part of North Dakota’s first state-wide pollinator survey and more work with the Forest Animal Ecology Lab, Jen was thinking about how to turn her pollinator work into a sustainable career.

Knowing exactly what she wanted to do, she took a bit of an unconventional approach to applying to graduate schools.

“After another seasonal position, I realized that I would need an advanced degree in order to find job stability in the field of pollinator ecology. I was not ready to start fresh in another new state, so OSU was the only school I considered, and the Horticulture Department was an easy choice, after I read Dr. Langellotto’s bio and saw how much we had in common.”

Jen started as a master’s student in 2019 but has switched to a Ph.D. due to the complexity of her project.

“We are interested in seeing if there is a difference in bee visitation/abundance/diversity on native cultivars compared to their wild relatives. We sample the bee communities and also measure numerous floral traits in an attempt to quantify all of the differences between the wild type natives and their cultivated counterparts.”

To help pay for graduate school, Jen is currently funded as a Graduate Research Assistant. Being a graduate assistant provides a stipend, a tuition waiver, plus other benefits. About half of OSU graduate students are employed through assistantships.

Outside of graduate school Jen enjoys baked goods, chai tea (she thinks the Dizzy Hen’s is the best), doing her best to take care of her houseplants, and also loves being a cheerleader for the students she mentors.