Meet the Expert: Ana Cabrera

Bayer Bee Health Scientist, Ana Cabrera tends to bee boxes
Bayer Bee Health Scientist, Ana Cabrera

From Guatemala to the Carolinas

Growing up in a small town in eastern Guatemala, Ana Cabrera’s ties to agriculture were pretty thin. Her father was a respected physician and her mother oversaw the management of their household. Ana’s grandfather, however, was a farmer who raised cows, corn and vegetables, so that could be where her interest in agriculture began. Regardless, within a ten-year span, Ana’s path took her from an Agronomy major in Central America to becoming one of Bayer’s leading bee health scientists in the United States.

By the time Ana received her B.S. from Escuela Agrícola Panamericana in Honduras, where she evaluated alternatives for methyl bromide, her focus on a career in agriculture was firmly established. She then earned an M.S. in integrated pest management (IPM) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, followed by a doctorate in entomology from North Carolina State University, after completing a study of resistance monitoring among agricultural pests.

How Bees Led to Bayer

“At the time I completed my studies, I was open to a career either in academia or industry,” notes Ana, “but my post-doctoral research at the U.S.D.A. and the University of Florida exposed me to the importance of managing Varroa mites in honey bee colonies, which just happened to perfectly coincide with Bayer’s interest in conducting bee health research.” So in 2014, Ana joined Bayer’s development team as a scientist working on pollinator and environmental safety and she hasn’t had time to look back since.

Working with the pollinator safety team at Bayer’s North American Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park, NC, Ana’s position is one that defies a simple explanation. “I work with regulatory agencies on our bee testing related to risk assessment and collaborate with various academic groups to see how we can improve bee testing methodology, identify floral resources for urban hives, and evaluate the bee safety profile of new registered products,” she explains. “I also get the opportunity to interact and present our work at major scientific conferences.” Last November, Ana was invited to discuss pollinator risk assessment at the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Lima, Peru. In 2016, she spoke at the 8th National Apiculture Symposium in Santiago, Chile, and later this month, she will present some recent collaborative research involving urban bee hives at the 25th International Congress of Entomology in Orlando, FL.

Keeping Things Interesting Outside of Work

On top of a busy research and conference schedule, Ana continues to add to her impressive list of co-authored scientific publications, which currently exceeds 20 papers. When asked how her work in industry matched her prior perceptions, she answers “I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of open interaction we have with so many different government and academic groups. I was also happy to learn how much proactive bee health research Bayer conducts that is independent of any regulatory requirement.”

When not working on bee health projects, Ana enjoys knitting, visiting with family and friends and attending concerts. She’s also keeping track of her international travels and has visited 18 countries and marked them on her world map. With a full schedule of research and speaking opportunities on the horizon, she’s sure to need more pins to add to that map.