The Art and Science of Life After Chernobyl

At first glance, the insect paintings by Cornelia Hesse-Honegger look no different than the images in a Peterson field guide. The subjects are set against a white background and copied in exact detail. Stare at them long enough, and something seems off. A rumpled wing, or a misplaced antenna. The insects are not merely damaged, claims the artist, but have been mutated by chronic exposure to radiation. For the last 30 years, Hesse-Honegger has been collecting and documenting insects that live in and around Chernobyl, the site of the world’s largest nuclear disaster.

I have admired Hesse-Honegger’s paintings for years, so when I saw one of her pieces [...]

Crazy Ant Q & A

Crazy ants are in the news again, this time for expanding their range from Texas to several other states in the Southeast.

We asked our favorite ant expert, Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice, a few questions to help us better understand what the breaking news about this invasive species really means:

What’s the big deal about crazy ants? Who are they and where did they come from?

Crazy ants are members of an ant genus called Nylanderia, and they get their name from the haphazard way they run around. When they start running, they look like they’ve lost their minds. Raspberry crazy ants (also called tawny crazy ants) come from Argentina [...]

By |October 29th, 2013|ants, Q & A|0 Comments|

Are there bark beetles in your backyard?

This past week we reconnected with Jiri Hulcr, resident Forest Entomologist at the University of Florida (and Dunn lab alum) who has just recently launched Backyard Bark Beetles – a new citizen science project that you can participate in now!  

The Backyard Bark Beetles project initially underwent some trials in Florida and Missouri over the summer and is now ready to roll-out to the rest of the country! The concept is familiar (if you’ve participated in the School of Ants); the citizen scientist creates a low-cost insect trap out of household materials, collects insects, registers a log-in ID, mails in insects and [...]

Meet the Worker Bees: Q & A with Joe Karlik

Our lab has been buzzing with research activity this summer. We thought it would be fun to sit down with a few of the worker bees — undergraduates, high school interns, and research technicians — to ask them some questions and learn more about their work.

Joe Karlik

Major: Biology and Physics; Senior

Position in lab: Research Technician; started May 2013

Joe has been involved in field and lab work ranging from the construction of ant colony nest boxes to the collection, feeding, counting and monitoring of ant individuals from 6 different species.

Describe your project/research: I am working on a project studying how temperature variation affects the health and success of ants from colonies that [...]

Meet the Worker Bees: Q & A with Mary Vincent

Our lab has been buzzing with research activity this summer. We thought it would be fun to sit down with a few of the worker bees — undergraduates, high school interns, and research technicians — to ask them some questions and learn more about their work.

Name: Mary Vincent Undergraduate Mary Vincent sorts ants collected from the field for placement into the Phytotron, Dunn Lab, NCSU

Degree: Major in Zoology, Minor in Environmental Sciences

Year in School: Junior

Career Goal: Graduate School, M.S. Genetics

How long have you been working in our lab? 5 months, since March 2013

Describe your project/research: I am working for ant [...]

Meet the Worker Bees: Q & A with Moriah Barrow

Our lab has been buzzing with research activity this summer. We thought it would be fun to sit down with a few of the worker bees — undergraduates, high school interns, and research technicians — to ask them some questions and learn more about their work.

 

Name: Moriah Barrow
Degree: Engineering (undeclared)
Year in school: Sophomore
Career Goal: Product Engineer / Physical Therapist
How long have you been working in our lab? About 8 months; started in January 2013

Describe your project/research: My Project uses the pladmodium of the slime mold Physarum polycephalum to model hurricane evacuation routes in the southeast United States. Using slime molds is a really cool alternative way to look at navigation systems. [...]

Meet the Worker Bees: Q & A with Shelby Anderson

Our lab has been buzzing with research activity this summer. We thought it would be fun to sit down with a few of the worker bees — undergraduates, high school interns, and research technicians — to ask them some questions and learn more about their work.

Name: Shelby Anderson Shelby Anderson at microscope

Degree: International Relations and French

Year in school: Post-Baccalaureate

Career goal: Physician

How long have you been working in our lab? 7 months

Describe your project/research: I am currently sorting and identifying arthropods that were collected in New York City, from the medians of Broadway to Central Park. We are currently trying [...]

What do planthoppers and armpits have in common?

Did you know that today (May 22) is the International Day for Biological Diversity? To celebrate this holiday, we’re sharing a recent conversation we had with Dr. Julie Urban, our friend, collaborator and assistant director of the Genomics & Microbiology Lab at the Nature Research Center at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Julie studies the diversity of not one, but two of our favorite types of organisms: insects and bacteria!

I sat down with Julie right before she jetted off on a research trip to French Guiana. We chatted about her love for bacteria in strange places (ahem, armpits and belly buttons) and [...]

Lettuce eat microbes

Last week, Jonathan Leff and Noah Fierer, our colleagues at the University of Colorado at Boulder with whom we’re collaborating on the Wild Life of Our Homes project, published new research about the microbial communities living on fresh fruit and vegetables. Their study was the first to assess the diversity of non-pathogenic bacteria living on eleven types of produce, including lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, apples, peaches and grapes. Using many of the same genetic techniques we’ll be using in the home microbe study, they assessed what microbes are living on the surfaces of common produce and considered how those microbial communities varied by produce type [...]

By |April 1st, 2013|News, Q & A|1 Comment|

Science Education Q & A with Andrew Collins

While in New York City in March, Elsa Youngsteadt and I met with Andrew Collins (check out his research here), a graduate student at Columbia University. We have been discussing some ongoing projects related to School of Ants outreach, and we enjoyed the opportunity to meet him in person (and we even roped him into doing some field work in the medians with us in between his classes!). He was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about all things science and education.

Tell us a little about yourself, how did you end up doing science education in NYC?