Harrington Wells

Harrington Wells

ProfessorGraduate Student Advisor for BiologyOH 330A

My educational background is in ecology and quantitative modeling of ecological systems. Most of my scientific research has been focused on foraging ecology and population dynamics. I have primarily used honey bees and monarch butterflies as model system for research. In particular, I have used honey bees as a model system to understand decision processes of foraging insects. Comparative studies of honey bee species and subspecies has led to research projects in India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Japan and Turkey. As important as the scientific investigations, involving undergraduate as well as graduate students in research has been an important part of my career.

Education and Degrees Earned

  • University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106
    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Biology (1979)
    Honors: Sigma Xi, Univ. of Calif. Regent's Fellowship, NSF Graduate Fellowship.
    Thesis: Interaction of Cirsium californiacum and Cirsium occidentale (Compositae) in a Sympatric Population.
  • Occidental College, Los Angeles, California 90041
    Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Magna cum Laude (1974) Honors: Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Mu Epsilon mathematics honorary
    Majors: Biology and Mathematics

Areas of Research Focus

  • Foraging ecology (honey bees as a model system)
  • Learning and decision processes in insects (honey bees as a model system)
  • Alcohol effects in a social system (honey bees as a model system)

Professional Affiliations

  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Sigma Xi
  • Animal Behavior Society
  • Kansas (Central States) Entomological Society

Courses Taught at TU

  • Environment and Humanity (BIOL 1033)
  • Experimental Design (BIOL 3333/6333)
  • Population Ecology (BIOL 4093/6093)
  • Population Genetics (BIOL 4063/6063)

Awards & Recognition

  • Indo-U.S. Subcommission on Education and Culture Fellowship
  • NATO Development Grant: Disease transmission, genetic pollution, and conservation of native races of honeybees (Apis mellifera) in Turkey and Bulgaria (with Cakmak & Nentchev).
  • NSF REU & UMEB grants to foster undergraduate research (6 grants with 10 faculty members)
  • State of Oklahoma Grant: Math and Science Master Teacher Development Program
  • U.S. Congressional Fulbright Fellowship
  • Visiting Professor, G.B. Pant University, Pantnagar, India
  • Visiting Senior Research Scientist, Pakistan Ministry of Agriculture, National Agriculture Research Center, Islamabad, Pakistan


  • Chittka, Lars and Harrington Wells. 2004. Color vision in bees: mechanisms, ecology and evolution. In: Complex Worlds from Simpler Nervous Systems (Ed. by Prete, F.), pp. 165-191. Cambridge: MIT Press.

  • Abramson, Charles I, Charlotte Sanderson, Jacob Painter, Stephanie Barnett and Harrington Wells. 2005. Development of an ethanol model using social insects V: Honey bee foraging decisions under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol 36:187-193.

  • Cakmak, Ibrahim, Charlotte Sanderson, Tomika Blocker, Lisa Pham, Sky Chechota, Ashley Cro, Brice Harader-Pate, Taylor Reidenbaugh, John Barthell and Harrington Wells. 2009. Different solutions by bees to the same foraging problem. Animal Behaviour, In Press.

  • Wells, Harrington and Ram R.S. Rathore. 1994. Discriminant conditioning of foragers in the Asian honey bees Apis cerana and Apis dorsata. Ecological Entomology 20:374-379.

  • Bozic, Janko, John DiCesare, Harrington Wells and Charles I. Abramson. 2007. Ethanol levels in honey bee hemolymph resulting from alcohol ingestion. Alcohol 41,281-284.

  • Hill, Peggy S., Jeremy Hollis and Harrington Wells. 2001. Flower constancy to colour in honeybees (Apis mellifera ligustica) when interfloral distances are varied. Animal Behaviour 62:729-737.

  • Sanderson, Charlotte E., Benjamin S. Orozco, Peggy S.M. Hill and Harrington Wells. 2006. Honeybee (Apis mellifera ligustica) response to differences in handling time, rewards, and flower colours. Ethology 112, 937-946.

  • Wells, Harrington, Patrick H. Wells and Peyton Cook. 1990. The importance of monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) winter aggregations to successful reproduction. Journal of Theoretical Biology 147:115-131.

  • Amaya-Márquez, Marisol, Peggy S. M. Hill, John F. Barthell, L. Lisa Pham, Dale R. Doty and Harrington Wells. 2009. Learning and Memory during foraging of the Blue Orchard Bee, Osmia lignaria Say (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, In Press.

  • Wells, Harrington, Eric G. Strauss, Michael A. Rutter and Patrick H. Wells. 1998. Mate location, population growth and species extinction. Biological Conservation 86:317-324.