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Sabrina Rondeau

Arrell Scholar Alumna, Environmental Sciences

Sabrina completed her PhD in the School of Environmental Sciences with Dr. Nigel Raine in Fall 2022. Her research focused on the possible interactions between stressors that could harm bees.

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“Many of the foods we eat rely in some way on bee pollination and without pollination we won’t have the same diversity in our diet as we do today (1). Understanding the causes and mechanisms responsible for global bee declines, and working to mitigate them, represent critically important steps to ensure the sustainable future of global food production and plant biodiversity.”

Research Interests and Future Goals

Bees are to thank for most of the abundance of fruits, vegetables and nuts available for today’s diet. In fact, roughly one-in-three mouthfuls of food we eat are dependent on the pollination services of bees (1). Because of their impressive contribution to the food system, it’s important to study the positive and negative effects our decisions have on bees. While pesticides play an important role in protecting food crops, they can also inadvertently harm the bees that these crops rely upon. The current research landscape looks at the impact of pesticides on pollinators with a focus on the consumption of contaminated pollen and nectar. But with more than 70% of all bee species nesting underground, prolonged contact with contaminated soil may represent an important yet overlooked route of pesticide exposure. 

Advancing our understanding of how these important ground nesters could be impacted by pesticide mixtureswhich farmers frequently use to manage pests and diseases, is essential when discussing food production and biodiversity. Sabrina’s research will be the first of its kind to incorporate soil exposure in risk assessments of pesticide mixtures on pollinators.  

Sabrina started her academic journey training as a dietician in Quebec where she developed her interests in food security and safety, responsible food production and balancing agricultural practices with conservation. Her studies led her to a BSC in Biological and Ecological Sciences from Université Du Québec à Trois-Rivières and a Master of Biology and Entomology from Université Laval, where she became increasingly aware of the severity of global pollinator declines and issues around managing honeybee colonies. Sabrina is now working as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa, focusing on the impact of agricultural practices on wild ground-nesting bee communities in field crops. She is also a recent recipient of the prestigious Alice Wilson Award offered through the Royal Society of Canada.

Why become an Arrell Scholar?

Sabrina’s long-term goal is to establish a research career at the interface of pollinator conservation and sustainable crop protection while contributing to the development of the knowledge needed to refine and implement tools for pollinator conservation and inform best management practices Sabrina was drawn to Arrell Food Institute’s vision of inclusivity, food security and sustainability, all concepts she values and advocates for. She also credits the program for its continued support while pushing her out of her comfort zone by providing opportunities to work on interdisciplinary projects and to engage in leadership roles. 

  1. Klein, AM, Vaissiere, BE, Cane, JH, Steffan-Dewenter, I, Cunningham, SA, Kremen, C, & Tscharntke, T. (2007). Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 274(1608), 303-313. doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.3721