I’m interested in how animals get around in the world — and bees are a good model for that kind of behavior.

Hot summer days finds bees buzzing around the blooms and swarming around their hives. Everybody's familiar with such scenes, but most people probably don't know that bees need practice flights to learn how to find their way from their hives to their food sources and back again.

For that knowledge we can thank Elizabeth Capaldi, a member of the University's highly acclaimed Animal Behavior Program. An expert in invertebrate behavior, she has shown through her research that even though bees' brains are tiny, they can learn by doing, and can process and store complex information.

"The main question I'm interested in is, how do animals get around in the world — and bees are a good model for that kind of behavior," Capaldi says. "Through my research, I'm trying to find out what common strategies insects use to solve these basic problems, whether there are relationships between the structure of their brains and their ability to solve problems, and if invertebrate brains work like vertebrate brains." || Ask the Experts: Elizabeth Capaldi on Bees

Capaldi conducts her research in central Pennsylvania as well as in Panama as a Smithsonian fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).

Her most recent book is titled Why Do Bees Buzz? Fascinating Answers to Questions About Bees.

Updated Feb. 18, 2010

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The Animal Behavior Program

The program in animal behavior offers an interdisciplinary major that includes subject matter in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and psychology. The focus is directed toward understanding behavior and providing the student with a background uniting ecological, ethological, environmental, evolutionary, experimental and physiological approaches to the study of animal life.

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majors are available in the College of Arts & Sciences. Fully immerse yourself in one area — or combine the fields you love into a double major. Pair Spanish with music, or education with public policy. Pursue botany and theatre, or environmental studies and classics.


What kind of job can I get with an animal behavior degree?

Careers paths include, but are not limited to, research, veterinary, medical, zoo, museum or foundation work; communications; law; industry, foreign service and education.

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