PhD Student Seeks Field Assistant for Ant Collections

The Purcell lab in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside seeks

motivated undergraduate students to contribute to summer research projects.=A0

Members of the Purcell lab study the behavioral, ecological, and genetic

basis of evolutionary transitions in social organization in insects such as

ants. One such project, focusing on division of labor in ants will require

an undergraduate research assistant this summer.=A0 Division of labor, in

which individual members of a society specialize in a single or narrow range

of tasks, is a prominent aspect of social insect biology and a major

contributor to their ecological dominance. Many social insects have

well-defined worker castes, either through age or morphological polyethism.

However, ant species of the genus Formica, native to North America and

Europe, don=92t have distinct worker castes, and the way in which labor is

divided within their colonies remains unknown. Mari West, a PhD student in

the Purcell lab, is investigating what behavioral, genetic, developmental,

and ecological factors act as worker caste determinants within this genus.

Her research this summer will consist of conducting behavioral observations

and field collections in Kananaskis, Alberta from mid-June to mid-August.

Applicants should have prior experience working in field conditions or else

an extensive hiking/camping background, be capable of working in a group or

independently, enjoy the outdoors, and be willing to work in rugged outdoor

conditions that have the potential to change rapidly. No prior entomological

experience is necessary, but applicants should be comfortable handling

insects, particularly sting-less ants. A successful applicant will gain

skills in behavioral observation, mark-recapture, experimental design, and

general social insect biology and may have the opportunity to carry out

his/her own side project. If interested, please send a brief letter of

interest and a resume/CV with at least 2 references to Mari West at Applications will be accepted through April 15th, 2017.