Julie Mustard, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Associate Professor
Office: BLHSB 2.814A
Phone: (956) 882-5869
Email: julie.mustard@utrgv.edu 

Currently Teaching

  • BIOL 4361 - Neuroscience I
  • BIOL 6201 - Sci Comm
  • BIOL 7100 - Thesis Proposal


  • Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
  • B.S. Chemistry, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA

Areas of Expertise

  • Molecular mechanisms of learning and memory
  • Honey bee behavior
  • Effects of alcohol and caffeine on the nervous system


What changes in the brain take place to allow us to learn and remember information? The honey bee, Apis mellifera, is an excellent system in which to investigate the mechanisms of learning and memory due to its outstanding ability to learn and its well characterized neurobiology. Current research focuses on the roles of biogenic amines in learning and memory. The biogenic amines are small intercellular signaling molecules that act as neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. They affect cells via binding to G protein coupled receptors that are expressed on the surface of responsive cells. The biogenic amines and their receptors are highly conserved across species; therefore, studying them in bees can provide insight into how they function in humans. Areas of research include: 1) Understanding the roles that the biogenic amines dopamine, octopamine and tyramine play in learning and memory and other behaviors; 2) Molecular and pharmacological characterization of the biogenic amine receptors; 3) Investigating how drugs of addiction, such as caffeine and alcohol, affect the reward pathways normally controlled by octopamine and dopamine.

Hear Dr. Mustard talk about her research on Science Friday on NPR: https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/getting-the-springtime-buzz-on-bees/ 

Recent Publications

* Indicates a student co-author

J.A. Mustard, A. Gott, J. Scott, N.L. Chavarria*, G.A. Wright. (2020) Honeybees fail to discriminate floral scents in a complex learning task after consuming a neonicotinoid pesticide. Journal of Experimental Biology 2020: jeb.217174: 10.1242/jeb.217174

J.A. Mustard. (2020) Neuroactive nectar: compounds in nectar that interact with neurons. Arthropod - Plant Interactions 14:151–159. DOI: 10.1007/s11829-020-09743-y

J.A. Mustard, L. Jones, G.A. Wright. (2020) GABA signaling affects motor function in the honey bee. Journal of Insect Physiology 120: 103989 DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2019.103989

Sahoo, V. Cuello*, S. Udawant*, C. Litif*, J. A. Mustard, M. Keniry. (2020) CRISPR Cas9 genome editing in human cell lines with DONOR vector made by Gibson assembly. In: Sioud M. (eds) RNA Interference and CRISPR Technologies. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 2115. Humana, New York, NY. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0290-4_20

J.A. Mustard, E. Akyol, K.D. Robles*, C. Ozturk, O. Kaftanoglu. (2019) Influence of sugar        experience during development on gustatory sensitivity of the honey bee. Journal of Insect           Physiology 116:100-105.  DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2019.05.002

J.A. Mustard, R. Oquita*, P. Garza*, A. Stoker*. (2019) Honey bees (Apis mellifera) show a preference for the consumption of ethanol. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 43: 26-35.  DOI:10.1111/acer.13908

J.A. Mustard, V. Alvarez*, S. Barocio*, J. Mathews*, A. Stoker*, K. Malik*. (2018) Nutritional value and taste play different roles in learning and memory in the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Journal of Insect Physiology 107: 250-256.  DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2018.04.014

J.A. Mustard. (2014) The buzz on caffeine in invertebrates: effects on behavior and molecular mechanisms. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 71: 1375-1382.  DOI: 10.1007/s00018-013-1497-8 

A. Wright, D. Baker, M.Z. Palmer, D. Stabler, J.A. Mustard, E. Power, A.M. Borland and P.C. Stevenson. (2013) Caffeine in floral nectar enhances a pollinator’s memory of reward. Science 339: 1202-4.  DOI: 10.1126/science.1228806