I am a behavioral ecologist focused on determining how animal behavior and reproduction varies across environmental conditions and geographic space. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at Cameron University (Lawton, OK) and was fortunate enough to return as a faculty member after completing my M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma. My research as a graduate student focused on morphological and ecological correlates of extra-pair paternity and retention of paternity in Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. I completed my Master’s degree with Dr. Jeffrey Kelly in 2011 and my Ph.D. with Dr. Michael Patten in 2015. After this, I spent three years as an Assistant Professor of Biology in the Department of Agriculture, Biology, and Health Sciences at Cameron University. While at Cameron University, I shifted my focus to the foraging behavior, ecology, and biodiversity of ant species in Oklahoma. This work primarily involved the native harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, and the invasive fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. These species provided wonderful opportunities to engage undergraduate researchers in project design, data collection, analysis, and writing. I also ran a citizen science project involving ant biodiversity collection by introductory biology students. One of the reasons I was excited to return to Cameron University was to provide opportunities to students who might not otherwise have the chance to experience research. Encouraging undergraduates to explore their own potential and allowing them to use their hard-won biological knowledge has proved a challenging but rewarding experience. I am currently a post-doctoral research associate with Dr. Michele Dudash and Dr. Charlie Fenster at South Dakota State University. With them, I am investigating how floral volatiles (i.e. scent) in Silene stellata (white campion) vary geographically and whether associated populations of their nursery pollinator moth, Hadena ectypa (campion coronet), can distinguish flowers from their own geographic region.
Anna is now a graduate student at the University of Colorado (Boulder) in Dr. Julian Resasco’s lab. She participated in research starting with her first semester at Cameron University. While there, Anna’s research focused on how harvester ants modify their foraging behavior in response to environmental conditions, such as daily temperature fluctuations. Anna has presented her findings at three scientific conferences and the resulting manuscript is currently in review.
Micaela graduated in 2019 with a B.S. in Biology. She has an interest in animal ecology, spurred in part by her experience as a vet tech. She joined my lab in Fall 2018 as a Capstone student and conducted a project on harvester ant trophic ecology. Her project addressed intraspecific isotopic variation across populations of different sizes. This project is currently being prepared for publication.
Christian is currently a Master’s student at Midwestern State University and is an adjunct instructor at Cameron University. He joined my lab in Spring 2018 and started a research project at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge investigating how colonial species such as harvester ants are distributed across a landscape. He was interested in determining if these co-occurring species have similar patterns of distribution, if they compete for space, or if they occur independently of one another. He found different patterns of spatial distribution in populations of different size, and these patterns seemed to vary by population age.
Samantha Remy joined my lab as a Capstone student and completed a project looking at how Pogonomyrmex barbatus investment in body fat varied across a year. This project is currently being prepared for publication.
Ashley joined my lab in 2019 and helped curate specimens and data from the Ants of Oklahoma Project with myself and Karl Roeder (University of Oklahoma). Data from this project will be used to examine ant species diversity and distribution across Oklahoma.