Exploring the world of behavior

Welcome to the Bell Lab

Credit: Brian Stauffer

Research in the Bell lab is focused on understanding why individual animals behave differently from each other. Even an individual fish, for example, behaves differently from other fish, through time and across situations. We study the proximate and ultimate causes of individual variation in threespined stickleback.

Current Research

Male poking nest


Brain slice HE stain


Emerging from shelter


6hr embryos


Latest Posts
Two new papers from the lab on the molecular basis and evolution of decision makingDecember 1, 2023How do animals balance between competing demands, and how do those mechanism evolve?   If you spend much time watching animals in natural populations you’re bound to notice that animals are rarely doing just one thing at a time. How do they balance between competing demands?  In a new paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Alison presents a framework for using neurogenomic tools to understand the mechanisms by which animals balance between competing demands, and how those mechanisms evolve. And in this new paper in Biology Letters Tina Barbasch shows that male sticklebacks mount a distinct neurogenomic response to a trade-off between social challenge and opportunity, thereby identifying some of the genes specifically important for decision making, and paving the way into further understanding of the evolution of mechanisms for decision making. See here for a nice profile of Tina’s study written by Kevin Neumann! [...] Read more...
Genome Day at the Champaign Public Library was a great community outreach eventNovember 8, 2023Usan Dan and Tina Barbasch play a food web Jenga with the kids And there were ants! [...] Read more...
Interview with Cassidy Constant, PRECS REU studentNovember 1, 2023Cassidy completed a project investigating the parental behavior of blackspotted stickleback in summer 2023 – check out the interview about her experience on YouTube! [...] Read more...
Summer 2023 field season in AlaskaJune 20, 2023Field crews unite! The Alaska Behaviour Axis convened with teams led by Matt Wund, Mike Bell and Ripan Malhi in Kenai, Alaska. There was cake. [...] Read more...
Damaris Miranda and Tara Pavithran present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium!April 16, 2023Damaris was supervised by Kevin Neumann and Tara by Meghan Maciejewski. They did a great job! [...] Read more...
A very successful retreat for the Alaska project. We are thrilled to be a part of the “greatest eco-evo experiment ever” and had a great time!April 16, 2023The behaviour axis, including (from left) Alexis Heckley, Chad Brock, Rionach McCarthy, Alison Bell, Tina Barbasch, Kiyoko Gotanda, Kevin Neumann, Allison Roth, Eric Neumann and Brendan Byrd Kevin Neumann presenting findings from summer 2022 Tina Barbasch presenting at the retreat Eric Arredondo shows results from summer 2022 and plans for 2023 [...] Read more...