Michelle Flenniken, PhD is an assistant professor in the Plant Sciences Department at Montana State University. She is a microbiologist investigating honey bee host-pathogen interactions, and she also serves as a co-director of the Pollinator Health Center at MSU. Flenniken received a BS in Biology from the University of Iowa and worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana before obtaining her PhD in Microbiology from Montana State University. She did postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco prior to becoming a faculty member at MSU.
Her projects in the lab focus on five principle aspects of honey bee biology: determining the mechanisms and contributions of RNA-triggered pathways in honey bee antiviral defense; honey bee pathogen monitoring, detection and discovery with an emphasis on pathogens associated with colony losses (including CCD); investigating the pathogenesis of the recently discovered Lake Sinai viruses; understanding the influence of the individual bee microbiome, metabolome, and transcriptome on the immune response and outcome of infections; and examining the sub lethal effects of agrochemicals on honey bee health. Honey bees are an excellent model in which to investigate immune mechanisms at both the individual bee and entire colony level.