75 College Ave.
Greenville, PA 16125
I have various interests in teaching and research, including behavioral ecology, animal behavior,
and entomology. My major research interest is the study of ants. The ubiquitous ant is a remarkably
versatile creature that has been studied in disciplines as diverse
as animal behavior, physiology, developmental biology, and biochemistry.
My specific interests in ants are twofold. First, competition between
colonies of the same species can be fierce, with the vast majority
of attempts failing. Through examination of young fire ant colonies,
I have helped elucidate some of the factors that may help a colony "win
the lottery" and
survive to maturity. These factors include condition of the egg-laying
queen, the number of workers produced, overt fighting among queens,
and worker elimination of extra queen. Second, an intriguing idea
in the field of biodiversity has suggested that, because of their
presence in many ecosystems, ants may be useful as indicators of
ecosystem health. By surveying the distribution and abundance of
ant species in local environments and applying lessons learned from
the use of aquatic insects as indicator species, I intend to determine
the feasibility of ants as indicators of ecosystem condition.
In addition, my teaching interests address local conservation issues. In particular, I have focused on water quality monitoring of the Little Shenango River, which winds around Thiel College. In the past several years, students under my direction have sampled aquatic insect larvae from the river. Once they have identified the insects, we have used a biotic index protocol to assess the quality of the water in the stream based on those insects sampled from it.