Projects and Collaborations

Current Projects:

Photo credit: Bruce Taubert

Morphology, reflectance, and sensory differentiation in male Centris pallida bees – My thesis work in the lab of Dr. Sean O’Donnell at Drexel University. Partially funded by a Women’s Project Mini-Grant by B Cavello in 2018. Performed in part at the University of Arizona, in part at Arizona State University, and in part at the FSMRL facilities at University of Illinois. Mentored undergraduate students Sumaiya Zahid, Purnima Sachdeva, and Rheanna Congdon, as well as graduate student Virginia Caponera and high school student Sophi Schneider on this project. Profiled in Drexel EXEL magazine.

Photo credit: Katherine Fiocca

The effects of mannitol on Drosophila melanogaster survival and development – Collaborative project between Dr. Daniel Marenda and Dr. Sean O’Donnell at Drexel University. Publication:

  1. Mannitol ingestion causes concentration-dependent, sex-biased mortality in adults of the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster)

A second co-first author publication in prep with graduate student Katherine Fiocca. Undergraduate mentee Cheyenne McNair is also an author on these publications and undergraduate Devneet Kainth presented an award-winning poster on this work at the 2019 Entomological Society of America Eastern Branch meeting. Mentored undergraduate students Cheyenne McNair, Lauren Hultgren, Angelina Gomez, Natalie Carroll, and Devneet Kainth on this project.

The effects of erythritol on survival in ants and termites – Collaborative project between Dr. Daniel Marenda and Dr. Sean O’Donnell at Drexel University. One first author publication in prep, with mentee co-authors Virginia Caponera and Cheyenne McNair. Also a co-author on a publication being written by Virginia Caponera. Cheyenne McNair presented a poster on this work at the 2017 STAR Summer Showcase at Drexel, the 2018 BEES Department Research Day at Drexel, and the 2019 Entomological Society of America Eastern Branch meeting. Mentored undergraduate students Cheyenne McNair, Angelina Gomez, Lauren Hultgren, and Annette Kang, and graduate student Virginia Caponera, on these projects.

The progression of ovary development in solitary Centris cockerelli and Centris pallida females from emergence through mating, foraging, and nesting – Collaborative project with Dr. Dan Papaj and Dr. Stephen Buchmann at the University of Arizona. Mentored undergraduate students Lauren Hultgren and Michaela Schuster on this work.


Natural history, adult morphology, communal brood chambers, sex allocation ratios and prey associations of Isodontia wasps in New York – Project funded by the Huyck Preserve Research Grant, given to Meghan Barrett as PI in 2018. Cheyenne McNair performed field work in relation to this project. Undergraduate Annette Kang is analyzing data and taking measurements for her 2018-2019 senior thesis project, mentoring Devneet Kainth and Angelina Gomez.

Effects of task specificity on brain resource allocation patterns in Panamanian stingless bees – Collaboration with Dr. Kaitlin Baudier at Arizona State University. Mentored undergraduate students Rheanna Congdon and Purnima Sachdeva on this project.



Brain reconstruction credit: O’Donnell lab

Effects of body size and caste on brain structure differences in paper wasps – Another neuroanatomy project I worked on in the lab of my PhD advisor, Dr. Sean O’Donnell. Read the resulting publications here and here (third publication currently in review).





Photo credit: Idris Robinson

Genetic links to source populations and morphology of worker Melipona beecheii in Cuba – Collaboration with Dr. Dane Ward at Drexel University and Dr. Jose Machado at University of Cienfuegos, funded by the Eva Crane Trust (Co-PI with Dr. Ward) in 2018. Mentored undergraduate students Chandler Olson, Serena Joury, Zachary Smith, Broderick DeAngelis, and Maggie McCurdy on this project.



Photo: USGS Native Bee Lab + Sam Droege

Mandible overlap in bees – Collaboration with the USGS Native Bee Lab and Sam Droege in 2019. Do bees put their left or right mandible forward? Manuscript currently in preparation.





Designing effective course materials using active learning strategies to improve undergraduate STEM Biology courses – Collaboration with Dr. Susan Gurney and Molly Mitchell at Drexel University, to create effective course materials reliant on active learning strategies for Applications in Biology I and II and assess their effectiveness.

Finished Projects:

Differences in brain investment in worker and soldier army ants (Eciton) – My first foray into neuroanatomy in the lab of my PhD advisor, Dr. Sean O’Donnell at Drexel University. Read the resulting publication here or the ‘plain words’ summary, here.