Posts Tagged: Andrea Lucky
Honey bees love it.
We watched a honey bee foraging on lavender blossoms last weekend, when an ant appeared on the scene. The ant? A worker of Liometopum occidentale (velvety tree ant), according to ant specialist Phil Ward, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis.
If you don't know much about ants, but have always admired them, then "Dr. Eleanor's Book of Common Ants," is for you.
It's the collaborative work of two entomologists: biologist/science writer Eleanor Spicer Rice, who received her doctorate in entomology from North Carolina State University, and biologist/insect photographer Alex Wild, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, studying with Ward.
In a recent Myrmecos blog, Wild describes the book as "an entry-level ebook written for the general naturalist curious about ants. Dr. Eleanor recounts stories of the most common species seen in the southeastern United States, interspersed with photographs from my galleries."
"It’s the kind of book you give to the young naturalist who wonders about the ants on the sidewalk," Wild says, "or perhaps to that grumpy uncle who never quite seems to get what it is you are doing in graduate school studying the little creatures."
And, guess what? The Dr. Eleanor/Dr. Alex book is free to download. One way to receive it is to access the Myrmecos blog and click on the I-Tunes and/or PDF links.
Rice relates that she's always been fascinated by ants. So is Andrea Lucky, who, like Wild, received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis with Phil Ward. Lucky heads the widely acclaimed citizen-scientist project, "The School of Ants." (The School of Ants project is based in the Lucky lab at the University of Florida's Department of Entomology and Nematology and the lab of Rob Dunn in Biology at North Carolina State University. (Email them at email@example.com if you want to know more.)
But back to "Dr. Eleanor's Book of Common Ants." It's fascinating. It's riveting. It's superb. The easy-to-read text and the amazing photos draw you in. You can literally feel the excitement, enthusiasm and passion when Dr. Eleanor asks "What's the big deal about ants?"
"We might not notice them, but ants surround us, occupying nearly every type of habitable nook and cranny across the glove," she writes. "Right now, ants snuggle up to your house, lay out their doormats in front of the trees in your yard, and snooze under your park benches. Some even nest inside the acorns littering the ground."
"We might not notice them, but they're there, and they shape, literally shape, our world," she points out.
And if you look closely in your own back yard, you just might see an ant and a bee sharing a lavender blossom.
A honey bee encounters a velvety tree ant. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Velvety tree ant touches the antennae of a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Of course you do.
But probably not as much as Andrea Lucky, the "Queen of Ants."
(Or as much as Phil Ward, her major professor at UC Davis or Alex Wild, the Illinois-based biologist and insect photographer who also studied with Ward. Both Lucky and received their doctorates in entomology from UC Davis.)
It's a citizen-scientist driven study of the ants that live in urban areas, particularly around homes and schools, Lucky says.
Anyone can participate: teachers, students, parents, junior scientists and just plain (and fancy) ant enthusiasts.
The project involves collecting ants in backyards and schoolyards "using a standardized protocol so that we can make detailed maps of the wild life that lives just outside (or even in) our doorsteps," Lucky says. The data-rich maps "will tell us a lot about native and introduced ants in cities, not just here in North Carolina, but across the United States and, as this project grows, the world!"
Many folks, Lucky says, have asked her about contributing to the project, so there's now a SciFund Challenge and donations are being accepted. "Our fundraising campaign has just six days left," she says, "but of course the project goes on past that deadline."
And the spectacular ant photos on School of Ants website were generously provided by...drum roll...Alex Wild.
Between the photos and the text, there's a wealth of information about ants on the site.
All in all, it's good to see citizen scientists monitoring ants. Ants don't share the same PR image as ladybugs, butterflies and native bees, also tracked by citizen scientists.
One, two, three, all together now, can you say "Myrmecologists"?
Close-up of aphids and ants at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis. This is a Formica moki, a native ant. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ant specialist Andrea Lucky, who will receive her doctorate in entomology on June 10 from UC Davis, will speak on the evolutionary history of ants on Wednesday, May 12 in 122 Briggs, UC Davis.
This is her "exit seminar" but it's doubling as part of the spring seminar series. Her talk, from 12:10 to 1 p.m., will be Webcast live. To tune in, access this site.
She researches the evolutionary history of ants in the geological complex region of Australasia, Melanesia and the islands of the Western Pacific.
“I use a combination of traditional morphological taxonomy and molecular phylogenetics to interpret how, when and where individual lineages diversified within this complex landscape,” said Lucky, who maintains a research website and studies with major professor Phil Ward. “In addition to my work on the biogeography of ants, I am also involved in biodiversity assessment and conservation using ants in Papua, New Guinea.”
You can watch a mini- interview of her in New Guinea on YouTube.
Lucky completed her undergraduate degree at Brown University in Providence, RI, where she majored in biology with an emphasis on ecology and evolutionary biology.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she traveled to Ecuador as a Fulbright Fellow, where she worked with insects in the Amazon.
Lucky entered the doctorate program in the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2004 and completed her degree in the lab of Phil Ward.
After receiving her Ph.D., she will move on to a postdoctoral scholarship at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, where she will work with Rob Dunn on a project examining geographic variation in ants and the processes they mediate.
If you miss any of the UC Davis Department of Entomology webcasts, they're archived.
These webcasts are a good resource for entomologists, would-be entomologists, and folks of the curious-sort who just want to learn more about the exciting world of science.
And, somewhere out there, there's another young entomologist who will follow in Andrea Lucky's footsteps...trailing ants.
Andrea Lucky in New Guinea
The spring lectures are held every Wednesday, March 31 through May 26, from 12:10 to 1 p.m., in 122 Briggs Hall, Kleiber Drive.
There you can learn about ants, butterflies, moths, scarabs, wasps, and walnut twig beetles, among other topics.Neal Williams, coordinator of the department’s spring seminars, has announced the list of speakers. Included will be doctoral candidate Andrea Lucky (above right), of the Phil Ward lab. You'll want to check out her newly created Web site on ant phylogenetics and biogeography.
The list of lecturers:
March 31: Julien Pelletier, postdoctoral scholar in the Walter Leal chemical ecology lab, speaking on “Mining the Genome for Olfactory Proteins.” Host: Professor Walter Leal.
April 7: Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology, speaking on “An International Perspective on Sustainability in Protected Cropping Systems with an Emphasis on Biological Control.”
April 14: Dan Potter, professor of urban landscape, University of Kentucky, Lexington, speaking on “Host Location by Plant-Feeding Scarabs.” Host: Michael Parrella, professor and department chair.
April 21: Tim Coulson, professor of population biology, Imperial College, London, currently at Stanford, speaking on “The Joint Dynamics of Populations, Life Histories and Heritable Characters in Free-Living Populations.” Host: Professor James Carey.
April 28: Michal Segoli, postdoctoral scholar, Center for Population Biology, Jay Rosenheim lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology, speaking on “Joint Parent-Offspring Control of Brood Size in a Polyembryonic Wasp.” Host: Professor Jay Rosenheim.
May 5: To be announced
May 12: Andrea Lucky, doctoral candidate in the Phil Ward lab, speaking on (exit seminar) “Systematics, Biogeography and Conservation of Ants in Australasia and the Pacific.” Host: Professor Phil Ward.
May 19: Steven J. Seybold, Chemical Ecology of Forest Insects, USDA Forest Service, and Department of Entomology affiliate, speaking on “Walnut Twig Beetle and Thousand Cankers Disease: Characterizing an Emergent Threat to Forest and Agroecosystems in North America.” Host: Mary Louise Flint, associate director, Integrated Pest Management Program.
May 26: Florian Altermatt, postdoctoral researcher, UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy, speaking on “Butterflies and Moths in Central Europe: Natural History, Climate Change and Voltinism.” Host: Professor Phil Ward.
Graduate students James Harwood and Amy Morice of the James Carey lab operate the Webcasting equipment.
Today we salute Andrea Lucky.
To be perfectly frank, anyone who takes a class from her is a lucky person indeed.
For excellence in teaching in the lab, field and classroom, UC Davis entomology doctoral candidate Andrea Lucky has won a 2009 UC Davis Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award.
Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef will present the award--one of 12--at a ceremony on Monday, April 6 in the Buehler Alumni and Visitors' Center.
Her major professor, Phil Ward, who nominated her for the award, praised her “stellar teaching assistance” and her “exceptional commitment to science teaching and outreach in general.”
Lucky, who joined the Ward lab four years ago, served as his teaching assistant in a five-week field taxonomy and ecology course last summer at the Sagehen Creek Field Station, northern Sierra Nevada. The course, Entomology 109 and also known as "Bug Boot Camp," introduces students to the diversity of California insects in natural habitats.
Lucky interacted with the students 12 to 14 hours a day, from dawn at the breakfast table to late at night in the lab, six days a week, Ward said. “Entomology 109 is a demanding course for both students and teachers, yet Andrea was unfailingly upbeat, engaging and responsive to students. She was willing to assist in the lab, the field and even the kitchen when the situation demanded.”
Kitchen, too! Now, that's dedication!
“Andrea’s enthusiasm for the subject and her knowledge of the subject matter are a rare combination,” Ward said. “She is dedicated to encouraging student participation and attentive to individual student learning styles, and as a result she is very effective in establishing a creative, hands-on, interactive learning environment. She is notable for her ability to engage students while encouraging a high level of intellectual rigor.”
Lucky uses novel, creative techniques to help students learn. She designed a freshman seminar course on “Insects and Media” and taught it for four years. The seminar uses science, and especially insects, as portrayed by modern media as the basis for discussions about the facts behind the fiction and how audiences distinguish information vs. entertainment.
A native of Chicago, Andrea Lucky grew up in Cincinnati, graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and then spent two years as a Fulbright scholar studying insects in Ecuador.
We're often asked "Where are the women in science who are making a difference?" Well, one of them is right here at the University of California, Davis.
Bug Boot Camp