Karen Strickler is an adjunct instructor, teaching Biology 202, 202L, and 100L, and occasionally other Biology courses. She is also the owner of Pollinator Paradise, a home-based company that is dedicated to the conservation, increase, and management of native bee populations for crop and wildflower pollination. She maintains a web site (www.pollinatorparadise.com ) about the blue orchard bee, Osmia lignaria, and other solitary bees. The company sells orchard bees, Binderboard™ and other products for solitary bee management. Karen also shares her knowledge of solitary bees and pollination in presentations to master gardeners and others, and in events such as Bug Day at the Idaho Botanical Gardens, and Pollination Day at Draggin’ Wing Nursery.
Karen was an assistant professor at the University of Idaho from 1993-2000, supervising their pollination ecology program. She studied the pollination of alfalfa for seed by the alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata. Prior to working at UI, she had 14 years experience studying solitary bees in Massachusetts, New York State, and Michigan, and 7 years experience studying pests of apple at Michigan State University.
While studying alfalfa pollination, Karen showed that bee populations have a major impact on the rate of bloom of the flowers that they depend on – the more bees, the faster the flower resources decline, as the plants put fewer resources into growing buds into new flowers and more resources maturing fruits and seeds. This is one of many examples of the interconnectedness of life in which organisms alter their environment, sometimes to their detriment.
Karen says, “I love teaching biology at CWI for a variety of reasons. The student body is diverse and dynamic. The faculty and staff are innovative, dedicated to teaching, and supportive. Plus, I’m constantly updating my understanding of biology and how to teach it to CWI students. In teaching biology I’m excited to share what I’ve been learning about advances in bioinformatics (use of DNA and amino acid sequences to understand organisms), Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Evo Devo, studies of the regulatory genes that control development of animal and plant embryos), and amazing new fossil finds. These cutting edge fields of biology reveal much about our evolutionary past and the unity, diversity and adaptation of life on earth. In teaching biology I hope that my students learn to appreciate our place in today’s living world as a snapshot in a long ongoing evolutionary process. By understanding the patterns and processes of evolution I hope that students better appreciate our current physical, behavioral, and mental status as humans, and how we are altering the future of life on earth.”