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Ted R . Schultz
I am driven by strong interests in the evolution and systematics of ants, especially the fungus-growing ants (Myrmicinae: Attini), the historical ecology and evolution of the fungus-growing behavior, the theory and methodology of phylogenetic analysis, including Bayesian statistical approaches and the reconstruction of ancestral character states, and quantitative methods for assessing ant biodiversity. more...
Eugenia M. Okonski
I keep the Smithsonian AntLab organized and running by carrying out a broad range of research- and collections-related activities. These include curating the ant collection, databasing our traditional and cryo-stored collections, preparing museum specimens, maintaining living colonies of fungus-growing ants, creating extended-focus images of ant specimens, handling loan transactions, and hosting visitors.
Molecular Laboratory Technician
My duties include providing technical support for molecular genetics research and collections in the department and in the Laboratories of Analytical Biology. I work with individual researchers on multiple projects involving genetic material from a wide diversity of insects and non-insect terrestrial arthropods.
Interns Emma HanischPostdocs
Bonnie Blaimer, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
"Phylogenetic structure of ant communities in Madagascar"
My research compares the phylogenetic structure of canopy and leaf litter ant communities in two forest habitat types (humid vs dry) in Madagascar, in order to infer the environmental and biological processes responsible for their assembly. I am particularly interested in whether canopy and leaf litter ant communities differ in phylogenetic diversity, whether they show the imprint of being modeled by different factors, and whether these patterns deviate between forest types. more...
Fredrick Larabee, Peter Buck Postdoctoral Research Fellow
At this Smithsonian, I am researching the evolution and functional morphology of the trap-jaw ant genera Anochetus and Odontomachus. The mandibles of these ants snap shut at some of the fastest speeds ever recorded for an animal movement and are used for prey capture, nest defense, and can even be snapped against the ground to escape from predators. I am using phylogenetic comparative methods to understand how the trap-jaw morphology has evolved and how it has affected patterns of species diversity in this group. more...
Rick Gawne, Visiting Graduate Research Fellow,
Ana Jesovnik, Predoctoral Research Fellow,
Maryland Center for Systematic Entomology (MCSE)
There are two things I can gaze at for days and not be bored, and those are ants and phylogenetic trees. So, I can say with some certainty that my interest lies in evolutionary biology of ants (Formicidae). I am currently working on the fungus growing ant genus Sericomyrmex, and my goal is to conduct a taxonomic revision and to determine phylogenetic relationships, using both morphological and molecular approaches. more...
Leeanne E. Alonso,
Vice President & Director, Rapid Assessment Program, Conservation International
My current research focuses on assessing ant diversity and protecting ants and their habitats. I co-edited, with Ted Schultz and others, Ants: Standard Methods for Measuring and Monitoring Biodiversity, which has become the standard for sampling and monitoring ants. I am involved in teaching the annual “Ant Course” and my newest project is writing a field guide to the Ants of Eastern North America with the aim of getting people to appreciate how much ants do for us every day!
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Utah
My research focuses on the systematics and evolution of ants, with an emphasis on species and lineages that occuppy the Neotropical region. Using both morpholgical and molecular data, I aim to 1) discover and describe new ant species, 2) improve ant classification so that groups are monophyletic and diagnosable, 3) infer the phylogenetic relationships among ant species and higher taxa, and 4) use ant phylogenies to understand the evolutionary and biogeographic history of select ant lineages.
SI Research Collaborator, UIUC Research Associate
I’m broadly interested in patterns and processes of speciation in ants. Currently, I’m using a population genomic approach to understand the factors driving evolutionary radiation of fire ants (Solenopsis geminata species group). This approach allow us to both delimit species and provide a comparative framework to understand the evolution of various character traits, e.g., worker polymorphism, invasiveness, or social behavior. I’m also studying the molecular evolution of the genes underlying an important polymorphism in social organization (i.e. queen number) in a group of closely related fire ant species.
Daniel S. Kjar
Assistant Professor of Biology, Elmira College
My research is focused on the ecolory of ants and sampling methods. In particular, i am interested in how environmental changes affect ant populations, distribution, and diversity. Ants are important ecosystem engineers and changes to the abundance or species composition may have
far reaching implications for many arthropod and plant communities.
John S. LaPolla
Assistant Professor of Biology, Towson University
My research emphasizes revisionary systematics, biotic surveys, and phylogenetics of ants. Much of my systematics related work has focused on the second largest subfamily of ants, the Formicinae, which contains some of the most behaviorally and ecologically interesting ant species. I am also interested in developing and testing techniques for sampling ants in different habitats around the world. I have conducted various biotic surveys across the Guiana Shield region of South America with the aim of better under-standing patterns of species diversity across this fascinating area.
Natasha J. Mehdiabadi
Research Associate, Smithsonian Institution & University of Maryland
"Phylogenetic Research on the Origin and Evolution of Agriculture in Ants."
My research program on the evolution of cooperation spans multiple levels of analysis (field work to molecular work), a range of symbiotic interactions (from parasitism to mutualism), and a diversity of systems (social insects and microbes). more...
Mark W. Moffett
Research Associate, Smithsonian Institution
Having published Adventures Among Ants with the University of Caifornia Press (2010), I'm looking at aggressive behavior among ants in general, including how it changes with colony population size. I'm also writing reviews about group identity and how it bears on the concept of the superorganism and about Argentine ant supercolonies. In addition to ant research, I continue to do projects on forest canopy biology, as well as to write and photograph articles on ants and other topics for the National Geographic Magazine. www.doctorbugs.com
Stephen RehnerConducts phylogenetic, population genetic and genomic research on entomopathogenic fungi. more...
Molecular Biologist, USDA, Agriculture Research Service
Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Rochester
I am studying the evolutionary genetics of ants and my research integrates evolutionary biology, genetics, taxonomy, and natural history studies. I am particularly interested in understanding how social parasitism evolved and how this change in social organization contributes to speciation. To explore this question, I am combining molecular phylogenetic, population genetic and genomic approaches. An integral part to my research is fieldwork and in-depth natural history studies, which often lead to new discoveries that are further explored in the laboratory. more...
Scott E. Solomon
Instructor, Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University
I am generally interested in how evolutionary and ecological processes produce patterns in geographical space, a field known as biogeography. I use ants as a model system, which are useful because they are widespread and abundant, and because ant species diversity is considered to be a good indicator of diversity in other groups. more....
Jeffrey Sosa-Calvo, Postdoctoral Research Fellow,
University of Rochester
My main interests are the systematics, behavior, and evolutionary biology of insects, especially ants (Formicidae) and parasitic wasps (Scoliidae). As part of my graduate studies I am focused on conducting the systematic revision of the primitive non-leaf-cutting fungus-growing ant genus Myrmicocrypta, and the construction of coevolutionary hypotheses including the ants and their symbionts (fungal cultivars, Escovopsis weed molds, & Pseudonocardia, antibiotic producing bacterial mutualism). more...
Emeritus AntLab Technicians:
Nor Farida Dahlan
Research assistant, January 1998 to December 2000
Current position: Assistant Professor, Ohio State University.
Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, and Smithsonian Institution Graduate Research Fellow. (Summer 1998.)
"Molecular phylogenetics of the dragonfly genus Libellula."
Current position: Instructor (Biology, Forensic Science), Lakeside School, Seattle, WA.
Lynn Atkinson Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Dec 1997 - Dec 1998)
"A phylogenetic study of the termite genus Nasutitermes."
NMNH/NSF Research Training Program Intern (May - August 2008)
"Diversity of leaf-litter Pheidole in Guyana: DNA barcoding and Auto-Montage digital images."
Current position: PhD candidate at the American Museum of Natural History, NYC
Sean Brady NSF/SI Postdoctoral Fellow (Sept 2003 - July 2009)
"Molecular phylogenetics of fungus-growing ants."
NSF/SI Assembling the Tree of Life Postdoctoral Researcher and co-PI.
"AToL: Collaborative research on ant phylogeny: a comprehensive evolutionary tree for the world's premiere social organisms."
Current position: Research Entomologist, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. http://entomology.si.edu/StaffPages/BradyS.htm
Simone C. Cappellari Current position (2015): Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Rochester
Jonathan Chen NMNH/NSF Research Training Program Intern (May - August 2004)
Undergraduate, Oberlin College.
"The origin of yeast cultivation in the fungus-growing ant genus Cyphomyrmex."
Lia Corbett Intern June 2009: Assisted with the implementation and design of an ant workshop for local public schools.
Tam Dang Intern (summer 2008)
Vanessa Eler Seide Univeridade Federal de Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brasil. Undergraduate intern, Institute of International Education/Brasilian Scientific Mobility Program. 12 May to 18 July 2014.
Larissa Eler Seide Univeridade Federal de Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brasil. Undergraduate intern, Institute of International Education/Brasilian Scientific Mobility Program. 12 May to 18 July 2014.
Tiago Vinicius Fernandes Amalia Gomez-Rexrode YES! Intern (Youth Engagement through Science)(summer 2010)
Assisted with the implementation and design of an ant workshop for local public schools.
Jackson Helms Stephanie Johnson NMNH/NSF Research Training Program Intern (May - August 2003)
Undergraduate, Cornell University
"Cyphomyrmex longiscapus: One fungus-growing ant species or many?"
Research Assistant (6 months in 1997)
Current position: Biological Science Technician, Smithsonian Institution, Laboratory of Analytical Biology
John S. LaPolla Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Sept 2004 - Aug 2006)
"Ant Biodiversity of the Guyana Shield."
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Towson University, Towson, MD. http://www.towson.edu/biology/TU%20Biology%20-%20LaPolla.htm
Intern June 2009- August 2010
Current position: Graduate Research Assistant, Branham Lab of Insect Systematics and Behavior, Department of Entomology & Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville.
YES! (Youth Engagement through Science) high school intern. Grade 10, Parkdale High School, Riverdale Park, Maryland. Summer 2014.
Christopher Marshall Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Feb 2001 - Jan 2002)
"The Phylogeny of the Scarabaeoidea (Coleoptera: Polyphaga): An analysis based on the nuclear protein coding gene, Elongation factor-1 alpha (EF-1a)."
Current position: Collections Manager, Oregon State Arthropod Collection, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR. http://osac.science.oregonstate.edu/people/OSUentomology_MarshallChristopher
Intern June 2009: Assisted with the implementation and design of an ant workshop for local public schools.
Jeremy A. Miller Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Research Fellow (July 2004 June 2005)
"Molecular phylogenetics of widow spiders (genus Latrodectus)."
Current position: Permanent Researcher, Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum (Naturalis), Leiden, The Netherlands. http://science.naturalis.nl/research/people/cv/miller
NSF International Research Fellow, Tabanid PEET Project (2008-2009)
Ecological systematics of horse flies (Diptera: Tabanidae) pangonid.net
Current position: Nanotechnology Policy Analyst at the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. www.Nano.gov
Emma Blue Newcomb Claudia Ortiz-Sepulveda Laura Victoria Florez Patino NMNH/NSF Research Training Program Intern (May - August 2007)
Undergraduate, Universidad de Los Andes Bogotá, Colombia
"Morphology and DNA barcoding of the ant genus Pheidole: Are they congruent?"
Chris Patrick Undergraduate intern. Allegheny College, Meadville, PA. 18 May to 04 August 2015. Angel Benito Perez Smithsonian Institution/Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Partnership Intern (July 2003 - July 2005) Miguel Portillo YES! (Youth Engagement through Science) high school intern. Grade 10, Capital City Public Charter School, Washington, DC. Summer 2013
Molly Rightmyer Smithsonian Institution Molecular Evolution Postdoctoral Fellow (June 2007 -May 2009)
"Phylogeny and coevolution in the cleptoparasitic bee genus Nomada (Hymenoptera: Apidae)."
Current position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, USDA Agriculture Research Service, Pollinating Insect Lab, Logan, Utah.
Maria A.M. Sallum
Postdoctoral Fellow, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo
(Mar 1998 - Feb 2000)
"Phylogenetic analysis of the genus Anopheles Megan (Diptera: Culicidae)."
Current position: Departamento de Epidemiologia, Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brasil
Eli Sarnat Research Assistant (Summer 2000)
Riitta Savolainen NSF of Finland Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Jan 1997 - Nov 1997)
"Evidence from mitochondrial gene sequences on the origin and diversification of the ant genus Formica."
Current position: Professor, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Senior Research Practicum, Eleanor Roosevelt HS, Greenbelt, MD. (2013) Cryptic speciation in the fungus-growing ant species Cyphomyrmex muelleri.
Sarah A. Solomon
NMNH/NSF Research Training Program Intern (May - August 1999)
Undergraduate, Appalachian State University
“The discrimination of two cryptic fungus-growing ant species within the Cyphomyrmex longiscapus species complex.”
Graduate student. Department of Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, University of Maryland at College Park. (Winter 2001 to January 2005.)Current position: Assistant Professor of Psychology, Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio.
"Investigations of ant vision and visually mediated navigation."
Corey Washington Assistant Professor, Dept. Philosophy, University of Maryland
"Visual navigation in leaf-cutter ants." (Host scientist) (Dec 2001 - July 2003)
Brad Wright Contractor
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