[Jen in the lab]

[Jen collecting samples in the field]

Jennifer Albert

Research Associate
M.Sc., hB.Sc. in Biology
York University
Email: jalbert@yorku.ca

Research Interests

My current research is aimed at understanding the consequences of complimentary sex determination in bees. Sex determination in bees depends on their allelic composition at a single locus, the complementary sex determiner, whereby individuals who are heterozygous at this locus develop into females and hemizygous or homozygous individuals develop into males. Species with single locus complementary sex determination (sl-CSD), including all bees, are at greater risk of extinction compared to most organisms due to the production of diploid males which are often inviable or sterile. This is of particular concern in small or fragmented populations where genetic diversity is low.

We are performing a set of behavioural experiments to test whether or not males and females of multiple social and solitary species of bee are able to identify and avoid mating with close relatives, thereby greatly reducing the number of diploid males they produce. In addition we are developing molecular biological tools to allow us to look at the diversity of the sex determination locus in various bee species in order to better understand the risk that populations might face due to production of diploid males.


  • Albert JR, Packer L. 2013. Nesting biology and phenology of a population of Halictus farinosus Smith (Hymenoptera: Halictidae) in northern Utah. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 32: 55-73. doi: 10.3897/jhr.32.4646 [Full text available]
  • Gibbs J, Albert JR, Packer L. 2012. Dual origins of social parasitism in North American Dialictus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae) confirmed using a phylogenetic approach. Cladistics 28: 195-207. doi: 10.1111/j.1096-0031.2011.00373.x Full text

Favorite Recipe

Cilantro Pesto Pasta

[Cilantro pesto pasta]


  • pasta of your choice
  • a bunch of fresh cilantro
  • an equal amount of fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil
  • a teaspoon of lemon juice
  • chili paste (to taste)
  • a few tablespoons of sugar
  • ground or thinly sliced pork


Combine cilantro, basil, sugar lemon, oil and chilies in a blender and blend until well mixed, it should look like a thin pesto. Fry the pork and mix it and the sauce with the cooked pasta. You can garnish with fresh cilantro, it's super easy and delicious!

Funniest Research Story

You do What????

Nothing funny ever happens in the lab. Although I get a lot of funny looks when I tell people that I cut the heads off of bees for a living. I don't know why.

[Laurence in a good mood]
Dr. Laurence Packer
Ph.D. (Toronto)
Professor of Biology
416-736-2100 ext. 22663
[Packer Collection @ York University]
[Biology Department @ York University]
Lumbers Building 345
York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3J1P3, Canada