Tim Linksvayer – PI

I joined the Penn Biology faculty in March 2011. Before that I was a EU Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Social Evolution, University of Copenhagen, DK, and a US National Science Foundation Biological Informatics Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University with Rob Page. I did my PhD in Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior at Indiana University with Mike Wade, and my BA in Biology at Carleton College.

Chao Tong – Postdoctoral researcher

I am fascinated by “Endless forms most beautiful”, not only the origin of species, but also the spectacular differences in morphology, physiology and behavior of different organisms. My broad research interests are comparative genomics and genetics of adaptation in different organisms. I did my PhD work in Zhao Kai’s lab at the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, mainly focused on comparative genomic study of extreme environmental adaptation and speciation of Schizothoracin fish. I am currently investigating the genomic basis of social evolution in spiders and ants.


Dan Charbonneau – Postdoctoral researcher

I am broadly interested in the interplay between individual and collective behavior in distributed complex systems. My work thus far has highlighted the importance of inactivity as a biologically relevant phenomenon that can be linked to individual behavior, morphology, and physiology, but also to emergent group properties such as task allocation strategies, and collective organization, robustness and flexibility. Insight into the evolutionary constraints and benefits of worker inactivity is essential for reconciling the seemingly conflicting ideas of task allocation strategies optimized by evolution, and high levels of worker inactivity.



Justin Walsh – PhD student

I’m interested in the evolution and maintenance of behavioral variation. During my time in the Linksvayer lab, I plan to quantify behavioral variation (i.e. animal personality) between colonies of Monomorium pharaonis and document the fitness consequences of this variation. Furthermore, I hope to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of this behavioral variation, including the identification of important genes and the quantification of indirect genetic effects. I completed my Master’s thesis with Dr. Vik Iyengar at Villanova University, studying how larval relatedness affects competition over food in the rattlebox moth, Utetheisa ornatrix. Outside of the lab, I am active in community outreach especially through volunteering at the Franklin Institute.

Rohini Singh – PhD student
An individual is a holobiont whose traits, fitness, ecology and evolution are also affected by microbes. However, we have limited understanding of how microbes can affect social traits, especially symbiotic microbes. I am conducting a systematic investigation of effects of microbial infection on social traits. I am using colonies of Monomorium pharaonis in our lab that shows natural difference in Wolbachia infection. Wolbachia is wide spread bacteria infecting only insects and is known to manipulate host reproduction. While, about 30% of ants are infected with this widespread bacteria, we do not know how it affects colony growth, colony fitness and social traits. Insights from my study will provide mechanistic insights about this host-microbe association that has been missing in the field. 


Michael Warner – PhD student


Adrian Kase – undergraduate research assistant

I’m an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania interested in evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and psychology.


Jessica Lipponen – undergraduate research assistant

I am an undergraduate student at Penn interested in evolution, genetics, and animal behavior/decision-making, and particularly the relationships among these. Evolutionary biology, genetics, anatomy/physiology, and psychology are among my broad areas of interest.

Michael Katzovitz – undergraduate research assistant

I am a fourth year undergraduate studying Biology and French. I am particularly interested in investigating the effects of certain environmental factors on ant foraging rates.

Past Members:

Post doctoral researcher

2015-2016 Luigi Pontieri, currently a postdoc at the Centre for Social Evolution, University of Copenhagen

2014-2015 Michael Simone-Finstrom, currently a Research Molecular Biologist at USDA Baton Rouge, LA

2011-2013 Sandra Rehan, currently an assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire

Research Technician / Lab Manager

2015 Taylor Tai

2013-2014 Michael Warner, currently a graduate student in UPenn Biology

2012-2013 Katie Miller, currently a graudate student in the Helms Cahan Lab at the University of Vermont

2011-2012 Nadeesha Perera, currently a graduate student at Duke University

Undergraduate student researchers

2015 Gene Limb

2015 Xinyi Cai

2015 Chad Nachiappan

2014-2015 Ryan Mayers

summer 2015, Dimitri Diagne

2014-2015 Danica Fine

2014 Hannah Cabot

2014 Kwaku Quansah

2012-2015 Aisling Zhao

2014-2015 Alexandra Sepulveda

2014 Christina Nelson

2012-2013 Benjamin Martinez

2012-2014 Kristie Bauman

2012-2014 Pryia Patel

2012-2014 Michael Wong, currently a graduate student at the University of Illinois

2013 Franklin Brown

2013 Run Ze Cao

2012-2013 Karmi Oxman, currently a lab technician in the Shafir lab at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

High school student researchers

2014 Colby Saxton

2013 Benjamin Wagner

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