Laura Avila (Laura M. Avila Segura)

FIRST Postdoctoral Fellow – Emory University, USA
Department of Environmental Sciences


University of Florida – USA
PhD – Interdisciplinary Ecology
Minor – Tropical Conservation & Development
Adviser: Dr. H. Glenn Hall
Thesis: plant-bee interactions in agricultural landscapes

University of Florida – USA
MSc – Interdisciplinary Ecology
Minor – Environmental Engineering (ecological systems)
Adviser: Dr. Johannes M.S. Scholberg
Thesis: plant-plant interactions & nutrient cycling in agricultural cropping systems 

EARTH University – Costa Rica
Licenciatura (higher than BS)
Agricultural Engineering
Adviser: Dr. Pánfilo Tabora & Dr. Fritz Elango
Thesis: microbial interactions in postharvest disease

Research Interests

Broadly, I am an interdisciplinary scientist interested in agroecological systems and biodiversity conservation. I study the effects of anthropogenic disturbance (i.e., agriculture, land use) and environmental factors on the interactions of plants, bees, and microbes. At the Brosi lab, I am interested in exploring 1) the role of historical contingency and transmission pathways on the response of the bee gut microbiome to disturbances; 2) the response of tropical bee foraging niche widths and bee-plant network structure to mass flowering crops & forest loss; 3) the structure of Neotropical bee-plant networks along elevational gradients potentially impacted by climate change. Additionally, I am interested in the use of citizen science for biodiversity monitoring.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Hall, H. G., and L. Avila. 2016. Megachile sculpturalis, the Giant Resin Bee, overcomes the blossom structure of Sunn Hemp (Crotalaria juncea) that impedes pollination. Journal of Melittology.

Zotarelli, L., Avila, L., Scholberg, J.M.S, and B. J. R Alves. 2009. Benefits of Vetch and Rye Cover Crops to Sweet Corn under No-Tillage. Agronomy Journal 101(2): 252-260.

Cherr, C. M., Avila, L., Scholberg, J.M.S, and R.M. McSorley. 2006. Effects of green manure use on sweet corn root length density under reduced tillage conditions. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 21 (3): 165-173.

Chapters in books

Ingwersen, W. and L. Avila. 2006. US Influences in Latin America -The Environmental Impact of Trade and the Sustainability Agenda. In Neighborly Adversaries. 2nd edition. Editor M. LaRosa and F.O. Mora. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc. Maryland (United States). 371 pp.

In preparation from dissertation

Avila, L., Hall, H. G., Herrera, E., Aguilar, I., Sánchez Chaves, L. A., and B. J. Brosi. The transient effects of a mass blooming crop on a tropical stingless bee colony growth. In preparation.

Avila, L., Hall, H. G., and B. J. Brosi. Interacting effects of land use and environmental conditions on the foraging patterns on a tropical stingless bee. In preparation.

Avila, L., Joseph Segura, S., Sánchez Chaves, L. A., Hall, H. G., and B. J. Brosi. The effect of land use on a tropical stingless bee diet composition. Field note in preparation.

Awards (selected)

  • Fellow, National Institutes of Health – IRACDA – Fellowship in Research and Science Teaching – Emory University (2018).
  • First Place President’s Prize P-IE-4 Section – Entomological Society Annual Meeting (2011)
  • Fellow, Lewis & Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research-Philosophical Society of America (2011)
  • Fellow, Compton Fellowship for Neotropical Research – Compton Foundation (2010)
  • Fellow, National Science Foundation – South East Alliance for Graduate Education Program

Teaching Experience​

BIO/IES 691 A – Earth Expeditions Field Course – Costa Rica (1 section – Summer 2018)
Field & online main instructor – Graduate Course, Miami University
BIO 636 –  Professional Media Workshop (2 sections – Spring 2019)
Online main instructor – Graduate Course, Miami University
BIO 632 – Biology in the Age of Technology –  (3 sections – Spring 2019)
Online main instructor – Graduate Course, Miami University
BIO 637 & BIO 639 – Master’s Capstone (3 sections – Fall 2017)
Online main instructor – Undergraduate Course, University of Florida
BIO 631 – Conservation Science and Community (2 sections – Fall 2017)
Online instructor – Graduate Course, Miami University
EVST 1012 – Introduction to Environmental Studies II (1 section – Spring 2017)
Main instructor – Undergraduate Course, University of Cincinnati – Blue Ash College
BSC 2010L – Integrated Principles of Biology Lab (2-3 sections Fall & Spring of 07, 08, 09)
Teaching Assistant – Undergraduate Course, University of Florida

Outreach and Volunteering

Emory University Postdoctoral Council for Diversity (2018-2019)
Council member
 Leader Gainesville-EARTH University longleaf pine reforestation project (2010)

Selected Conferences and Workshops / Conference Participation

Yoho, R., Avila, L., and K. Feilen. 2018. Creating a Paradigm-Shifting Writing Activity Where Students Write for a Purpose Outside of the Classroom. Original Lili Conference in College Teaching. Miami University. 4 pp.

Avila, L., Hall, H. G., Joseph Segura, S., Sánchez Chaves, L. A, and B. J.  Brosi. 2018. Richness and diversity of a stingless bee pollen diet in a tropical agricultural landscape. Emory Herbarium Research Symposium.

Avila, L., H.G. Hall, E. Herrera., and I. Aguilar. 2013. The Role of Foraging Supplementation by Coffee in Tropical Agricultural Landscapes: A Case Study on Tetragonisca angustula Colony Vigor. VIII Congreso Mesoamericano de Abejas Nativas: Biología, Cultura y Uso Sostenible, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica. Oral presentation. 5 pp

Avila, L. 2011. Foraging behavior of Scaptotrigona bees in forested and open habitats: the importance of semiochemicals and visual cues. Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, Reno, Nevada. Poster 1 pp.

Selected Work Experience

GoBi (Governance in Biosphere Reserves) Group – Humboldt University, Berlin Germany (2006)
Visiting scholar
Qaraaoun Integrated Rural Development Project – American University, Beirut Lebanon (2002)
Intern – Extension Agent