Mentee Achievements

Current Mentees

Annette Kang

Annette Kang – Annette is a Biological Sciences major with an Environmental Sciences minor who joined the lab in spring of 2017! Annette’s work contributed to the 2018 publication “Worker-caste differences in brain investment reflect soldier behavioral specialization” by O’Donnell, Bulova, Barrett, and von Beeren; she is also has contributed to another ongoing project studying safer insecticides. In the fall of 2017, she was selected to participate in the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program, which she followed up with a sustainability-focused study abroad in Costa Rica in 2018. In 2018, she also won the DAAD RISE Germany Award, to perform research with O’Donnell lab collaborator Dr. Cristoph von Beeren on the diet preferences in ant-parasite communities, in Darmstadt, Germany. In addition, she is also a 2018-19 Udall Scholar  thanks to her dedication studying sustainability and the environment. Annette has presented her work from the lab at Drexel University’s Nerd Nite, and has gone on to present her international work multiple times to global audiences; she also has two publications (one a first-author) from a previous research experience her freshman year.  Annette, a previous Drexel STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) student, is now working on her Drexel Supernova Capstone Project on the effects of using collective brood chambers on morphology and larval provisioning in Isodontia wasps in the O’Donnell lab. She presented her capstone results at the Entomological Society of America Eastern Branch meeting  in 2019 after earning an undergraduate travel award. Annette will be attending graduate school at Cornell University starting in the fall of 2019.

Cheyenne McNair

Cheyenne McNair – Cheyenne is an Environmental Science major who joined the lab in the summer of her freshman year as a STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) student working full time, and has been a star in the lab ever since! Her work over the summer was presented first at the 2017 STAR Summer Showcase, a poster entitled The Pest Relief: Does erythritol act as an insecticide for ants?, which she also presented at the Drexel Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Science Research Day in 2018. Additionally, her work contributed to the poster Does brain structure covary with sociality in spiders? A comparative test in the genus Anelosimus (Araneae: Theridiidae), presented at the 2018 Drexel BEES Research Day by Meghan Barrett. In addition, Cheyenne was awarded the 2018 Espenschade Outstanding Undergraduate Research Achievement Travel Award, presented by the Drexel Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Department to support the research of an outstanding undergraduate student studying environmental science.  Cheyenne is currently working on the effects of D-mannitol on fruit flies, and is a co-author on three manuscripts currently in prep in relation to her polyol work. She is presented her work on the effects of erythritol on ants at the Entomological Society of America Eastern Branch meeting in 2019, for which she won a travel award. She anticipates attending graduate school after graduation.

Angelina Gomez – Angelina is an Environmental Sciences student who joined the lab in the spring of 2018 after taking a class with Meghan. She began her tenure in the lab studying the sex specific effects of D-mannitol on fruit flies and her poster was presented by fellow lab-mate Devneet Kainth at the Entomological Society of America Eastern Branch meeting in 2019; the poster received second place. She has also helped study the prey allocation and numbers in Isodontia wasps with Annette Kang. Angelina enjoys the New Jersey Pine Barrens, where she studied local plants; in her ‘spare’ time, she serves as a Dragon Scholars Mentor and a Math Tutor at Drexel.

 

 

Devneet Kainth –Dev, a Biology major, joined the lab in spring of 2018 after taking a class with Meghan – she is currently studying the developmental effects of D-mannitol on fruit fly larvae, and will be presenting her work at the Entomological Society of America Eastern Branch meeting in 2019, for which she received a travel award. In addition, she earned second place in the BS/MS poster competition for her work! Before joining the O’Donnell lab, Dev worked on a SEA-PHAGES honors project studying soil bacteriophages which she presented in her poster ‘The Effect of Soil Bacteriophages on Non-Soil Bacteria and their Potential Relatedness to Mycobacterium smegmatis at the 2017 Drexel Phage Poster Symposium.

Sumaiya Zahid – Sumaiya is a Biology major who joined the lab after taking a class with Meghan in the winter of 2017, until her co-op in the spring of 2018. She was instrumental to the 2018 publication “Worker-caste differences in brain investment reflect soldier behavioral specialization” by O’Donnell, Bulova, Barrett, and von Beeren. She also presented her collaborative research with Michaela Schuster in a poster entitled Do paper wasps have morphological worker subcastes? A test in the neotropical warrior wasp, Synoeca septentrionalis (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), at the 2018 Drexel Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Research Symposium. Currently, she is working on external sensory differentiation in Centris pallida bees.

Rheanna Congdon – Rhe is a Biology major who joined the lab in Fall of 2018 after taking a class with Meghan. She began her time in lab by working on optimizing primers for army ants; this work was instrumental to generating pilot data for an NSF proposal. She transitioned to studying how task differentiation in Tetragonisca angustula worker bees affects brain resource allocation in collaboration with post-doc Dr. Kaitlin Baudier at Arizona State University, and will be a co-author on the resulting publication. Now, Rhe is working on brain resource allocation in dimorphic Centris pallida male bees.

Purnima Sachdeva – Purnima is a Biology major who joined the lab in Fall of 2018 after taking a class with Meghan, began her time in lab by working on optimizing primers for army ants; this work was instrumental to generating pilot data for an NSF proposal. She transitioned to studying how task differentiation in Tetragonisca angustula worker bees affects brain resource allocation in collaboration with post-doc Dr. Kaitlin Baudier at Arizona State University, and will be a co-author on the resulting publication. Now, Purnima is working on brain resource allocation in dimorphic Centris pallida male bees.

Sophi Schneider – Sophi is a rising junior in high school who is excited to learn some new lab skills in the O’Donnell lab. She is a co-author on the poster Variation in worker caste morphology of Melipona beecheii beecheii bees in Cuba, presented at the STAR Summer Showcase in 2018 and the International Scientific Conference in Cienfuegos in 2018. She has worked on brain resource allocation in C. pallida dimorphic males, winning the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science regional competition in 2018.

Former Mentees:

Michaela Schuster – Michaela, a Health Sciences major with a minor in anthropology, who joined the O’Donnell lab in the summer of 2017 and stayed until the winter of 2019. She presented her collaborative research with Sumaiya Zahid in a poster entitled: Do paper wasps have morphological worker subcastes? A test in the neotropical warrior wasp, Synoeca septentrionalis (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), at the 2018 Drexel Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Research Symposium. She credits the O’Donnell lab for helping her realize that she wants research to be her career path moving forward. She is excited to attend graduate school in the Philly region after graduation.

Chandler Olson – Chandler, a Biology major, joined Meghan and Dr. Ward as an iSTAR (internationally, Students Tackling Advanced Research) student to Cuba where he studied Melipona beecheii morphology in the summer of 2018. He presented his results at Drexel University’s STAR Summer Showcase in 2018 and at the International Scientific Conference in Cienfuegos in 2018 and continued to work on his research in the lab through the spring of 2019.

Serena Joury – Serena combines environmental science with product design. She first joined Meghan and Dr. Dane Ward in the summer of 2018, as an iSTAR (internationally, Students Tackling Advanced Research) student to Cuba where she studied Melipona beecheii visual learning abilities using FMPER. She presented her results at Drexel University’s STAR Summer Showcase in 2018 and the International Scientific Conference in Cienfuegos in 2018.

Zachary Smith – Zack, an ambitious environmental science major and previously an intern at Lacawac Sanctuary, joined the rest of the iSTAR team in Cuba during the summer of 2018, studying Cuban native bee diversity. He presented his results at the STAR Summer Showcase in 2018 and at the International Scientific Conference in Cienfuegos in 2018 and has continued researching community ecology in the lab.

Margaret McCurdy – Maggie, an Environmental Engineering major, joined Meghan and Dr. Ward in the summer of 2018 as a Drexel iSTAR student (internationally, Students Tackling Advanced Research), studying Melipona beecheii thermal tolerance. She presented their results at the STAR Summer Showcase in 2018.

Natalie Carroll – Natalie, a Biology major, joined the O’Donnell lab in the winter of 2017 and stayed through the winter of 2018. She spent most of her time in the lab learning about arthropod brains; her work contributed to the poster Does brain structure covary with sociality in spiders? A comparative test in the genus Anelosimus (Araneae: Theridiidae), presented at the 2018 Drexel Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Research Symposium.

Lauren Hultgren – Lauren entered the lab in the winter of 2018 and stayed through the winter of 2019. Lauren graduated with a degree in Environmental Science (concentration in Biodiversity and Evolution). While in the lab, she helped corral ants for a pesticide project and assessed bee ovary development for Meghan’s collaborative project with the Papaj lab at University of Arizona. She also worked with Dr. Dane Ward on Urban Ecology projects while interning at a veterinary center learning about (and playing with) dogs.