Student Highlights: Sarah Waybright


Class:  Graduate Student

Major:  Ecology

Sarah Waybright grew up in Indiana and attended Indiana University after high school, where she received bachelor’s degree in Biology and Spanish. During college, Sarah did a lot of traveling and studying abroad, and through her travels gained a deep appreciation for nature. She fell particularly in love with alpine environments, which is one of the reasons Sarah and her husband moved to Colorado after graduating from college. Sarah knew she wanted to work in life sciences and do more for the planet, but she wasn’t exactly sure what that meant for her.

While working at a public school with kids on the autism spectrum, Sarah also did research at Colorado State University with Dr. Chris Funk studying adaptive coloration in tailed frogs. During this time, Sarah decided she wanted to go back to school to study ectotherms and their responses to the changing climate. She joined Dr. Michael Dillon’s lab at the University of Wyoming where she studies where/how bumble bees overwinter and how the changing climate may impact their overwintering survival.

Sarah collecting bumble bees for a lab experiment in the Snowy Range Mountains of Wyoming

B. nevadensis queen found near the Happy Jack Recreation Area in Wyoming


Broadly, Sarah studies queen bumble bee overwintering physiology. She is currently exploring how and where a queen bumble bee overwinters influences her survival and energy usage while overwintering, and/or her fitness post-winter. Through a combination of field work, lab work, and empirical modeling approaches, Sarah aims to predict if the changing climate may impact bumble bee abundance and spatial distribution now and in the future.

Sarah surveying bumble bees in the Snowy Range. Alpine bumble bees can be spotted foraging in the spring while there is still snow on the ground!


Every year, we award fellowships to graduate and undergraduate students attending the University of Wyoming or one of Wyoming’s community colleges in order to provide them with the opportunity to do “real” research. Occasionally, we feature one of these students and their research on this blog. For more information about our student fellowships, visit our College Programs page.