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.
Luigi Pontieri – Postdoctoral researcher
I did my PhD in Biology at the Centre for Social Evolution (CSE) at Copenhagen University with Jes Søe Pedersen as academic advisor. During my studies, I investigated several aspects of the behavior and the chemical ecology of the highly invasive, supercolonial pharaoh ant, Monomorium pharaonis. In particular, how genetic factors such as degree of relatedness between colonies and level of within colony genetic variation affect individual recognition and, ultimately, shape colony interactions and eventually supercolony formation and distribution. I’m generally interested in the effect of the genetic background (individual and social) on the expression of specific phenotypes (recognition cues, aggression, etc.) and by using the pharaoh ant as model system I aim to quantify the differential contribution that nature and nurture exert on these and other relevant individual and social traits.
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.
Microbes are found associated with various organisms, from plants to animals to humans. They effect their host’s physiology, fitness and evolution. While the effects of symbionts on infecting individuals are well documented, their social effects are not well studied. I am interested in understanding the fitness consequences and social effects of one such microbial endosymbiont, Wolbachia. Using pharaoh ants and its association with Wolbachia as a model system, I plan to systematically investigate the effect of infection on social behavior, colony fitness, sex ratio and host gene expression.
For my Masters thesis, I constructed a novel pilot tool for genome-wide investigation of allelic variants contributing to trait variation in budding yeast. Apart from research, I am actively involved in outreach initiatives promoting and encouraging young students to pursue basic sciences.
Ben Cushing – undergraduate research assistant
I’m a second-year undergraduate at Penn interested in influences on decision making. Cognitive neuroscience, ecology, and philosophy of mind are among the fields relevant to my interests.
I’m an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania interested in evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and psychology.
I’m a third-year undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. My research interests include computational biology, epidemiology, and behavioral ecology.
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.
Post doctoral researcher
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