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Research Interests:

  • Effects of sociality and environment on the evolution and plasticity of arthropod brain structures
  • Alternative reproductive tactics in bees: morphological differentiation and environmental effects on behavioral variability
  • Learning, cognition, and sensory allometry in bees
  • Human safe pesticide development, using erythritol and D-mannitol

Academic Positions:

 PhD candidate, 2016-present, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Advisor – Sean O’Donnell, PhD

Teaching Assistant, Sept 2016-present, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
– Biology 207 – Applications in Biology I, 2016, 2017
– Biology 208 – Applications in Biology II, 2017, 2018
– Biology 218 – Principles in Molecular Biology, 2018

Undergraduate Researcher, 2014-2016, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
– Independent Biology Honors Thesis (Professor Regina Clinton) – Effects of the Emerald Ash Borer on Nations Road Research Reserve, 2015-2016
– Department of Biology Researcher (Jennifer Apple, PhD) – Survey of Native Bees in the Geneseo Area, 2015-2016
– Department of Biology Researcher (Jennifer Apple, PhD) – Determination of Colony Structure in Formica pergandei using Microsatellite Markers to Estimate Worker Relatedness, 2014-2015

Undergraduate Laboratory Instructor, 2013-2015, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
– Biology 116 – General Biology Laboratory; received Biology Leadership Award in the spring of 2016 for excellence in teaching

Supplemental Instructor, 2014, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
– Biology 119 – General Biology: Diversity, Physiology, Ecology

Undergraduate Laboratory Assistant, 2013, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
– Biology 116 – General Biology Laboratory; position held in the spring of freshman year

Peer-Reviewed Papers:

  • O’Donnell S, Bulova S, Barrett M, von Beeren C (2018). Worker-caste differences in brain investment reflect soldier behavioral specialization (Eciton army ants, Formicidae: Dorylinae). BMC Zoology, 3:3. (here)
    • journal press release: here; Drexel release: here; lay summary: here
  • O’Donnell S, Bulova S, Barrett M, Fiocca K (2018)Size constraints and sensory adaptation in brain architecture (paper wasps – Vespidae: Epiponini). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 132:302-10. (here)
    • lay summary: here
  • O’Donnell S, Bulova S, DeLeon S, Barrett M, Fiocca K (2017). Caste differences in the mushroom bodies of swarm-founding paper wasps: implications for brain plasticity and brain evolution (Vespidae, Epiponini). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71:116. (here)

Research Presentations:

Size constraints and sensory adaptation in brain architecture (paper wasps- Vespidae: Epiponini). Meghan Barrett, Dr. Sean O’Donnell, Entomological Society of America Eastern Branch, March 2018, Annapolis, MD.

The neuroanatomy of paper wasps: implications for brain evolution and plasticity. Meghan Barrett, Dr. Sean O’Donnell, Philadelphia Evolution Group, November 2017, Philadelphia, PA.

Caste differences in the mushroom bodies of swarm-founding paper wasps: implications for brain plasticity and brain evolution (Vespidae, Epiponini). Meghan Barrett, Dr. Sean O’Donnell, Three Rivers Evolution Event, September 2017, Pittsburgh, PA.

Introduction to Social Spider Brains. Meghan Barrett, Dr. Sean O’Donnell, Drexel University, January 2017, Philadelphia, PA.

Introduction to Social Spider Brains. Meghan Barrett, Dr. Sean O’Donnell, Social Insects in the North-East Regions meeting, December 2016, Washington, DC.

Effects of the Emerald Ash Borer on Nations Road Research Reserve. Meghan Barrett, Professor Regina Clinton, Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement, and Talent Day, May 2016, SUNY Geneseo, NY.

An Examination of Scientific Rhetoric. Meghan Barrett, Dr. Melanie Blood, Geneseo Recognizing Excellent, Achievement, and Talent Day, May 2016, SUNY Geneseo, NY.

Posters:

Caste differences in the mushroom bodies of swarm-founding paper wasps. Meghan Barrett, Susan J Bulova, Sara DeLeon, Katherine Fiocca, Dr. Sean O’Donnell. International Union for the Study of Social Insects, August 2018, Guarujá, Brazil.

The Pest Relief: Does erythritol act as an insecticide for ants? Cheyenne McNair, Meghan Barrett, Dr. Sean O’Donnell. Drexel University Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Research Symposium, February 2018, Philadelphia, PA.

Does brain structure covary with sociality in spiders? A comparative test in the genus Anelosimus (Araneae: Theridiidae). Meghan Barrett, Natalie Carroll, Cheyenne McNair, Dr. Sean O’Donnell. Drexel University Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Research Symposium, February 2018, Philadelphia, PA.

Do paper wasps have morphological worker subcastes? A test in the neotropical warrior wasp, Synoeca septentrionalis (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Michaela Schuster, Sumaiya Zahid, Meghan Barrett, Dr. Sean O’Donnell. Drexel University Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Research Symposium, February 2018, Philadelphia, PA.

The Pest Relief: Does erythritol act as an insecticide for ants? Cheyenne McNair, Meghan Barrett, Dr. Sean O’Donnell. STAR Scholars Summer Showcase, August 2017, Philadelphia, PA.

Survey of Native Pollinators in the Geneseo Area. Meghan Barrett, Ryan Carpenter, Dr. Jennifer Apple, Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement, and Talent Day, May 2016, Geneseo, NY.

Determination of Colony Structure in Formica pergandei using Microsatellite Markers to Estimate Worker Relatedness. Meghan Barrett, Dr. Jennifer Apple, COPLAC Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity Conference, October 2015, Mahwah, NJ.

Determination of Colony Structure in Formica pergandei using Microsatellite Markers to Estimate Worker Relatedness. Meghan Barrett, Dr. Jennifer Apple, Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement, and Talent Day, May 2015, Geneseo, NY.

Determination of Colony Structure in Formica pergandei using Microsatellite Markers to Estimate Worker Relatedness. Meghan Barrett, Dr. Jennifer Apple, Northeast Natural History Conference, April 2015, Springfield, MA.

Education:

  • Drexel University, Biology PhD program, 2016-present
    • Graduate minor in Undergraduate STEM Education, earned March 2018
  • SUNY Geneseo, B.S. Biological Sciences, summa cum laude, 2012-2016
  • New College, Oxford (England), Study abroad, summer 2015

Additional Training:

  • Bee Course, Summer 2017, Southwestern Research Station, Portal, AZ
  • PROFESS program courses, 2017-present, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
    • GRAD 511 – Foundations in Teaching and Learning of STEM Undergraduates, 2017
    • GRAD 512 – Advanced Undergraduate STEM Pedagogical Techniques, 2018
    • GRAD 513 – Improving STEM Education through Research, 2017
    • GRAD 514 – Quality Assessment Practices, 2017
  • The Center for the Integration of Teaching, Research, and Learning Network, 2017 – present

Grants, Fellowships, and Scholarships:

Graduate

  • Eva Crane Trust Grant, Co-PI with Dr. Dane Ward, Eva Crane Trust, UK, 2018; $10,554.74
  • Huyck Preserve Research Grant, PI, Huyck Preserve, Rensselaerville, NY, 2018; $2,500.00
  • USDA-AFRI funded IUSSI Travel Award, IUSSI-NAS, 2018; $1,500.00
  • International Travel Award, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, 2018; $750.00
  • ASN Conference Award (as part of Evolution in Philadelphia Conference organizing commitee), American Society of Naturalists, 2018; $3,000.00
  • GSA Career Development Symposia Award (as part of Evolution in Philadelphia Conference organizing committee), Genetics Society of America, 2018; $1,000.00
  • Company of Biologists Small Meeting Award, Company of Biologists, UK, 2018; $465.70
  • Department of Biology Travel Award, 2018, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA; $250.00
  • Women’s Project Mini-Grant, 2018B Cavello; $500.00
  • Three Rivers Evolution Event Travel Award, 2017, American Society of Naturalists and TREE, Pittsburgh, PA; $200.00
  • Drexel Department of Biology Travel Award, 2017, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA; $250.00
  • American Museum of Natural History Bee Course Tuition Scholarship, 2017, AMNH
  • Drexel College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Fellowship, 2016-2018, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Undergraduate

  • Biology Leadership Award, 2016, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Student Travel Grant, 2015, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Natalie Selser Freed Memorial Scholarship, 2015,  SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Bill & Stacy Edgar Annual Geneseo Scholarship, 2015,  SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Student Research Grant, 2014, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Promotional Products Education Foundation Scholarship, 2014 + 2015, Promotional Products Association International, Irving, TX
  • Student Association Merit Scholarship for Leadership, 2014,  SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Model A Ford Club of America Youth Scholarship, 2012 – 2016, Model A Ford Club of America, La Habra, CA
  • SUNY Geneseo Edgar Fellows Award, 2012 – 2016,  SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • SUNY Geneseo Scholar in Residence Award, 2012 – 2015,  SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY

Honors:

Graduate

  • Graduate College Continuing Excellence in Teaching Assistance Award, 2018, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
  • College of the Arts and Sciences TA Excellence Award Winner, 2018, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
  • College of the Arts and Sciences Outstanding Mentorship Award, 2018, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
  • American Society of Naturalists (ASN) Best Lightning Talk Award, 2017, TREE, Pittsburgh, PA
  • College of the Arts and Sciences TA Excellence Award Winner, 2017, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Undergraduate

  • Graduated summa cum laude, 2016, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • SUNY Chancellor’s Award, 2016, SUNY-wide, Albany, NY
  • Member of the Edgar Fellows Honors college, 2012-2016, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Inducted to Phi Beta Kappa, 2015, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Inducted to Sigma Tau Delta, 2015, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Greek Woman of the Year, 2015, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Inducted to Tri-Beta, 2014, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Inducted to National Order of Omega, 2014, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Inducted to Golden Key, 2014, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Inducted to Phi Eta Sigma, 2014, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • President’s List, Fall 2012, 2014; Spring 2016, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • Dean’s List, Fall 2013, 2015; Spring 2013, 2015, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
  • GOLD Leadership Awards from 2012-2016, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY: Global Engagement, Leadership through Community Engagement, Personal Leadership Model, Digital Literacy, Leadership in Sustainability, Diversity and Cultural Competency, Career and Professional Development, Practicing Leadership, Life Skills, Volunteerism and Service

Affiliations:

Mentorship:

  • Research Mentor for O’Donnell lab undergraduates including: Annette Kang, Sumaiya Zahid, Cheyenne McNair, Natalie Carroll, Lauren Hultgren, Angelina Gomez, Devneet Kainth, and Michaela Schuster
    • To see mentees’ papers, award and other acheivements, click HERE
  • iSTAR (international, Students Tackling Advanced Research) Program, Research Mentor for Chandler Olson, Serena Joury, Zachary Smith, Margaret McCurdy
  • STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) Program, Research Mentor for Cheyenne McNair
  • Research mentor for Apple lab undergraduate Ryan Carpenter, 2016

Service

  • Graduate student representative for the Drexel Center for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning Excellence (CASTLE) Curriculum Committee, 2018 – present
  • Drexel TA Task Force, 2017 – present
    • speak to incoming TAs, run TA training sessions, give feedback on teaching practice, support interdepartmental TA work
  • Drexel Biology Graduate Student Association
    • Treasurer, 2017 – 2018
    • President, 2018 – 2019
  • Philadelphia Evolution Group conference and local meetings organizer, 2017 – present
  • Social Insects in the North-East Regions conference organizer, 2018
  • Middle school Kentucky science fair project mentor, 2017
  • Head Judge for the Secondary George Washington Carver Science Fair, 2018
  • Volunteer Interviewer for the DrEAMS program (students looks to apply to the DUCOM Early Assurance Program), 2017
  • Student representative on the Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education Committee, 2015-2016
    • revised the school’s learning outcomes for undergraduate degrees
  • Science and Literature Question Crafter for Literacy Volunteers of Rochester ‘The Brain Game’ and SUNY Geneseo’s ‘Brain Drain’, 2011-present
    • past categories have included: AP Biology, What’s all the Buzz About, Ecology Basics

Science communication

Online writing, podcasts, and videos:

In person:

  • Academy of Natural Sciences Scientist Saturday, August 2018
    • The Missing Bees of North America, Native Bee Diversity in the US
  • Lecturer and Field Leader, Huyck Preserve High School Science Program, August 2018
    • What is a bee? Native bee diversity, collection, and identification
  • Lecturer, Thursday Night Lecture Series, Huyck Preserve, August 2018
    • Altruism, Relatedness, and Sociality: Unraveling the Evolutionary Story of the ‘Hive Mind’ in Bees
  • Volunteer at Arizona State University’s Social Insects Research Group outreach tent at the Phoenix March for Science, 2018

Field Seasons:

  • Cienfuegos, Cuba – Melipona beecheii morphology and thermal tolerance; bee community surveys across managed landscapes (4 weeks)
    • Led four undergraduates from Drexel and three undergraduates from the University of Cienfuegos in the field
  • Geneseo, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Rensselaerville, NY – Xylocopa virginica work, May-June and August 2018 (4 weeks)
    • Lead one undergraduate in the field (Cheyenne McNair)
  • Tucson, Mesa, and Phoenix, AZ – Centris pallida and Centris cockerelli work, April-May 2018 (4 weeks)
  • Portal, AZ – Bee Course, August 2017 (2 weeks)
  • Geneseo, NY – Survey of Pollinators, June-August 2015 (8 weeks)

Other Relevant Skills:

  • Competent with several statistical, simulation, and imaging programs: R, Image J, Q Capture, Matlab, Reconstruct, USDA Forest Vegetation Simulator
  • North American bee identification, to genera; Eastern North American ant identification, to species
  • Animal husbandry: Formica spp, Tetramorium species E, Camponotus spp, Tenebrio molitor, Tribolium castaneum, Drosophilia melanogaster
  • Brain dissections and histology: bees, ants, spiders, wasps, beetles, termites
  • Molecular techniques: DNA extraction, primer design, PCR, gel electrophoresis, microsatellite and DNA sequence analysis
  • Intermediate competence in written and spoken Spanish
  • Nature photography published in: The Waggle, Bombus Press
  • Creative writing, journalism (see above ‘Science Communication’ under Outreach as well)
    • Assistant Poetry Editor, Storm Cellar Quarterly, 2016-present
    • Graduated SUNY Geneseo with second major in English/Creative Writing and an Honors Thesis: An Examination of Scientific Rhetoric in Drama, Dr. Melanie Blood, 2016
    • Phi Beta Kappa Writing Internship, 2016
    • App Creator and Storyteller with Liber Primus Games, The Burning Trees of Ormen Mau, 2016
    • Chapter contributor for Esyld’s Awakening, Collaborative Writing Challenge 2015-16
    • Staff Writer and Assistant Section Editor for The Lamron, 2012-2015, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY