Luther College student researches bumble bees

October 9, 2017

The bee population has slowly been declining across the globe, causing scholars to panic about the lasting impact the decline will have on native plant communities. Nikhil Thacker, Luther College senior of Iowa City, Iowa, researched and observed bumble bees, known scientifically as Bombus, and how to preserve the areas the bees rely on for their survival.

Thacker, the son of Tracy and Viraj Thacker of Iowa City, is a 2013 graduate of Iowa Mennonite School. He is majoring in environmental studies at Luther.

Thacker focused on the Bombus species and its resource usage in prairie and forest areas. Currently, the Bombus affinis is listed as an endangered species. Thacker sought to discover what plants and habitat are needed for the bees to thrive.

“It felt good to design my research project and experience firsthand the effort it takes to make sure everything works out. That was something I was worried about at the beginning of the summer but feel much more confident about now,” said Thacker.

Thacker worked with Beth Lynch, associate professor of biology, on his project titled “Use of Forest and Prairie Habitats by Bumble Bees (Bombus spp.) in Northeastern Iowa.”

The group’s collaboration is one of 26 summer student-faculty research projects funded through the Luther College Scholars Program and Dean’s Office. The Student-Faculty Summer Research projects provide students an opportunity to research topics of interest alongside Luther faculty. This program is one of a wide selection of experiential learning opportunities at Luther intended to deepen the learning process and that are part of Luther’s academic core.

The results of the project will be presented at Luther’s Student Research Symposium in 2018.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college’s website: