Download full CV here

Research Interests:

  • Relationships between morphology/anatomy, physiology, and behavioral specialization
  • Effects of polyols on insect survival and development
  • Effects of active learning on the development of process skills and retention of content in undergraduate students

Academic Research Positions:

Biology PhD Program and Masters in Undergraduate STEM Education, 2016-present, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
PhD Advisor – Sean O’Donnell, PhD; Masters Advisor: Jennifer Stanford, PhD

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


1. Fiocca KCO, Barrett MCO, Waddell E, McNair C, O’Donnell S, Marenda D (2019). Mannitol ingestion causes concentration-dependent, sex-biased mortality in adults of the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). PLoS One, 14:e0213760. (here)

2. 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

3. 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)

4. 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)

Publications in review:

5. Barrett MCOFiocca KCO, Waddell E, McNair C, O’Donnell S, Marenda D (In review: PLoS One). Larval mannitol diets increase mortality, prolong development, and decrease adult body sizes in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). preprint

6. O’Donnell S, Bulova S, Barrett M, Fiocca K (In review: J Comp Phys A). Body-size allometry does not explain brain structure differences across a solitary- to social-behavior transition (Hymenoptera: Vespidae).

7. Caponera V, Barrett M, O’Donnell S, Marenda D (In review: J Economic Entomology). Erythritol causes concentration-dependent mortality in Reticulitermes flavipes.


  • Drexel University, Biology PhD program, 2016-present
    • Masters in Undergraduate STEM Education program, 2016-present
  • SUNY Geneseo, B.S. Biological Sciences, summa cum laude, 2012-2016

Graduate Research Support:

Grants and Fellowships:

  • Entomological Society of America Student Research Travel Award, ESA SysB, 2019: $1,500.00
  • Lewis and Clark Research Grant, PI, American Philosophical Society, PA, 2019; $2,100.00
  • 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
  • Women’s Project Mini-Grant, 2018B Cavello; $500.00


  • 2018 USDA-AFRI Travel Award, IUSSI-North American Section; $1,500
  • 2018 International Travel Award, Drexel University; $750
  • 2017, 2018 Drexel Department of Biology Travel Awards, Drexel University; $500
  • 2017 Three Rivers Evolution Event Travel Award, ASN; $200

Invited Presentations:

Bugs on the brain: what studying insects can teach us  about the evolution of the brain. Meghan Barrett, Sean O’Donnell. Pennsylvania State Schuylkill Faculty Research Series, March 2019, Schuylkill Haven, PA.

Altruism, Relatedness, and Sociality: Unraveling the Evolutionary Story of the ‘Hive Mind’ in Bees.  Meghan Barrett. Huyck Preserve Thursday Night Lecture Series, August 2018, Rensselearville, NY.

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

Selected Presentations:

Neuroeconomics: the supply and demand of the social brain. Meghan Barrett. Entomological Society of America Eastern Branch Meeting, March 2019, Blacksburg, VA.

  • Won second place in the Entomological Digest competition (student and non-student).

Sensory differentiation in males of the desert bee, Centris pallidaMeghan Barrett and Sean O’Donnell. Entomological Society of America Eastern Branch, March 2019, Blacksburg, VA.

Morphological and sensory differentiation in males of the desert bee, Centris pallida. Meghan Barrett. Social Insects in the North-East Regions Conference, December 2018, Philadelphia, PA.

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

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

  • won the 2017 Best Lightning Talk Award

Selected Posters:

Brain investment under colony-level selection: soldier specialization in Eciton Army Ants. Meghan Barrett, Sean O’Donnell, Susan Bulova, Christoph von Beeren. Evolution in Philadelphia Conference, September 2018, Philadelphia, PA.

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.

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.

Teaching Experience:

Teaching Assistant, Sept 2016-present, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
– Biology 207 – Applications in Biology I, 2016, 2017, 2018 (3 times)
– Biology 208 – Applications in Biology II, 2017, 2018, 2019 (5 times)
– Biology 211 – Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology II, 2019 (1 time)
– Biology 218 – Principles in Molecular Biology, 2018 (1 time)

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 (4 times)



  • Graduate College Continuing Excellence in Teaching Assistance Award, 2018 + 2019, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
  • College of the Arts and Sciences Outstanding Mentorship Award, 2018, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
  • College of the Arts and Sciences TA Excellence Award Winner, 2017, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA


  • 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


  • Research Mentor for O’Donnell lab undergraduates including: Annette Kang, Sumaiya Zahid, Cheyenne McNair, Natalie Carroll, Lauren Hultgren, Angelina Gomez, Devneet Kainth, Michaela Schuster, Rheanna Congdon, and Purnima Sachdeva
    • To see mentees’ papers, awards, and other achievements, 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


  • Drexel Center for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning Excellence (CASTLE) Curriculum Committee, 2018 – present
  • Biology Department Infrastructure Committee, 2018-present
  • Biology Department Retreat Committee, 2019-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 and BEES Graduate Student Association
    • Treasurer, 2017 – 2018
    • President, 2018 – 2019
    • Vice President of Biology, 2019-2020
  • 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 and May 2019
    • The Missing Bees of North America, Native Bee Diversity in the US
  • Lecturer and Field Leader, Huyck Preserve High School Science Program, June 2019
  • Lecturer and Field Leader, Huyck Preserve High School Science Program, August 2018 + 2019
    • What is a bee? Native bee diversity, collection, and identification
  • 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 – Isodontia auripes work, May-June and August 2018, weeklong trips from April-October 2019
    • Lead one undergraduate in the field (Cheyenne McNair)
  • Tucson, Mesa, and Phoenix, AZ – Centris pallida and Centris cockerelli work, April-May 2018 and April-May 2019 (8 weeks)
  • Portal, AZ – Bee Course, August 2017 (2 weeks)
  • Geneseo, NY – Survey of Pollinators, June-August 2015 (8 weeks)

Additional Training:

  • Analysis of Organismal Form, Fall 2018, University of Manchester
  • Bee Course, Summer 2017, Southwestern Research Station, Portal, AZ
  • PROFESS program courses, 2017-present, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
    • EDUC 840 – Individual and Social Theories in STEM Cognition, 2018
    • 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

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