Behavioral traits in Trachymyrmex species.
Behavioral ecology, social behavior, bioacoustics, ornithology
I am broadly interested in social behavior and bioacoustics. My research is focused on behavior in fungus-growing
ants. I am currently working on the behavior of Trachymyrmex zeteki and its cryptic sibling species, with
the goal of delimiting cryptic species. I plan to use the skills I develop in future social and bioacoustics
research in ornithology.
Evolution of alarm behavior across the fungus-growing ants.
Chemical ecology, behavioral ecology, neurobiology, animal behavior
Eusocial organisms use chemical communication for successful social interactions within groups. The
function of ant semiochemicals can be understood through behavioral assays, as behavior is a
measurable phenotypic trait. My goal is to understand the evolution of alarm communication in ants.
I study the behavioral reaction of 13 fungus-growing ant species to their mandibular gland secretions.
Alkaloidal venom function in a new Panamanian ant species M. milenae.
Chemical ecology, molecular ecology, entomology, amphibian biology
Whether looking at the
microscopic or ecosystem level, organisms employ a variety of strategies in order to maximize their
fitness. I am interested in the physiological and behavioral mechanisms utilized by tropical organisms
that help maximize their survival. My project focuses on the antibacterial properties of the venom
alkaloids in Megalomyrmex milenae ants, a recently discovered and understudied species from the Panamanian rainforest.
Antimicrobial properties of ant-derived semiochemicals.
Antibiotics, traditional chinese medicine, pharmaceutical biology
I am interested in how flora or fauna can benefit humans from a medical perspective. My project focuses on
interactions between organisms in the fungus-growing ant species network. I study how antimicrobial
compounds influence the growth of the fungus garden, entomopathogens, and bacteria in culture. My goal is
to determine which microbes are helped or harmed by ant- and garden-derived natural products.