ABOUT THE LAB

Welcome to the website for the Powell Lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at the George Washington University. We work on research questions at the interface of evolutionary ecology and community ecology. We use ants to tackle these questions. We are particularly interested in the intimately connected questions of how ecological interactions have shaped trait diversification, and how species traits influence the assembly of contemporary communities. For more information, please follow the links above and read the news below. If you have further questions about our work, or want to know about opportunities to join us, please get in touch.

The beautiful cerrado biome of central Brazil, where we work on trait diversification in the turtle ants and community assembly in the whole arboreal ant community. 

The beautiful cerrado biome of central Brazil, where we work on trait diversification in the turtle ants and community assembly in the whole arboreal ant community. 

RECENT LAB NEWS

News

Our paper introducing new caste evolution theory is out now in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. This theory is built from what we know so far about the ecology of caste in the mighty turtle ants. We made the cover too! 

Carol and Jignasha have returned from a very successful collecting trip for colonies of Cephalotes texanus in Texas. The trip was greatly facilitated by Alex Wild's lab at UT Austin. Lots of new ants for us to work with in the lab!

We are very pleased to welcome new PhD student Jignasha Rana! Jignasha has an interest in cryptic diversity and joins us from the Harvard MCZ, where she has been working as a curatorial assistant. 

We've been a bit behind on the news lately, mostly because of lots of great things going on, but here are the bigger events in short order: Scott, Flávio, Aidan, and Carol ran the turtle ant mega-booth in the NSF section of the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC in April; Our new paper on turtle ant diversification landed in Evolution in late April; Aidan jetted off to BCI for army ant fieldwork in May; Scott, Shauna, Flávio and Carol hit the FL Keys in May to collect live colonies of Cephalotes varians; The lab attended the social insect SINNERS meeting at Penn State in June; Carol took off for the summer OTS course in Costa Rica in Mid June; Scott's latest paper on the ecology of soldier evolution in the turtle ants came out in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology in late June; Scott also went to the Evolution Meetings in Austin in late June; Flávio left for fieldwork in Brazil in June, and Scott caught up with him somewhere in the wilds of the cerrado for six weeks in July and August. Busy Summer!

We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Flávio Camarota as a new postdoc! Flávio and Scott have been working together throughout Flavio's graduate work on community assembly in arboreal ants in Brazil, and it's great to now have him in the lab as a postdoc.

Aidan Manubay, our senior PhD student, has been awarded a Short-Term Fellowship from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for his research on Eciton army ants. Congratulations Aidan!

Scott, Shauna Price, and old friend David Lubertazzi are off to the Dominican Republic for a 10-day collecting trip. We are excited to finally get to see (and collect) colonies of the endemic turtle ant fauna of the island of Hispaniola. 

Our new paper on the dynamic adjustment of living bridges in army ants is now out in PNAS. This was a really enjoyable collaborative project that rekindled old interests in army ant living structures.

Busy summer for the lab. Here’s the summer news in brief: Aidan Manubay started his dissertation fieldwork on army ants in Panama, with a little initial help from Scott (it was so good to be back on BCI after 12 years away!); Scott and Postdoc Shauna Price attended Evolution 2015 in Guarujá, Brazil; Scott, Shauna, and incoming PhD student Carol Peretz headed to Uberlândia, Brazil for turtle ant sampling, with the help of local PhD student Flávio Camarota; Scott, Aidan, and Carol attended Ant Course in beautiful Portal Arizona.

Very proud of our graduating research undergrads Philip Horowitz, Paulina Kriska, and Rebecca Prather. We'll miss them all, and wish them the very best in their future endeavors!