TEACHING

I have received a fellowship to design and teach my own upper-level seminar on animal social networks in spring 2022. The primary goals of the course are to build student confidence reading primary literature and analyzing data in R, while surveying the interdisciplinary field of social networks. I participated in UVA's Course Design Institute to design a learning-focused syllabus, which you can see here.

My approach to teaching is informed by my undergraduate coursework in education theory, experience as a TA, and ongoing pedagogical training through the Tomorrow's Professor Today program. I have also been accepted into a seminar on how to effectively teach and give feedback on writing, which I will take in Spring 2022.

Also honored to announce that I have been nominated by my department for an all-university teaching award!

MENTORING

I have been lucky to work with some fantastic undergraduate researchers, both at UVA and as a mentor in the REU program at Mountain Lake Biological Station. Everyone listed here is a current collaborator--past students' projects have all turned into manuscripts we are preparing for publication.

Alejandro Medina-Valencia

Alejandro Medina-Valencia
Alejandro's project with me through the Mountain Lake Research Experience for Undergraduates program founds that patch age explains variation in both resource quality and subpopulation age structure in a metapopulation. Interestingly, he also found that the processes are independent; changes in age structure within a patch are not driven by changes in resource quality.

 

Alejandro has just accepted an offer to work with Margarita Lopez Uribe and Ruud Schilder at Penn State next year!

Olivia Shaffer

Olivia Shaffer
Olivia's REU research asked whether forked fungus beetles, which are not eusocial insects but share space with conspecifics for months or even years, have consistent affiliative relationships. Surprisingly, she found evidence that they do. We are currently continuing this analysis and preparing this work for publication.

 

Olivia recieved an REU Travel Grant to present this work at a conference and has done other independent research through the McNair scholars program. She is now headed to Washington State University, where she will be doing pollinator behavioral ecology research in Dr. David Crowder’s lab.

Matthew Armstrong

Matthew Armstrong
Matthew's distinguished major thesis tackled a seemingly simple but thorny question: are forked fungus beetles territorial? After reading critiques of the territoriality binary from social science and feminist lenses, Matthew decided to try to answer this objectively by looking at patterns of resource access. He analyzed tens of thousands of field observations, and found that larger males have more access to high-quality resources and seem to exclude smaller males.

Matthew is currently a field tech in Gina Baucom's lab at the University of Michigan.

Livi Baker

Livi Baker

Livi and I worked together first as part of an undergraduate research award and then on her distinguished major thesis. Her work asks: do the personalities of individuals alter social network structure? We found that forked fungus beetles have consistent levels of social behavior across social contexts, and that the composition of these personalities dramatically impacts network structure. Her distinguished major talk won 2nd place at the 2021 Katz Symposium.

Livi will be applying her scientific background, skills as an artist, and indefatigable  energy to climate change activism.