Welcome to the website for the Powell Lab, based in the Department of Biological Sciences at the George Washington University. We work on biodiversity 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. 


Scott, Flávio, Fred, Carol and Jignasha had an excellent time attending "XXIII Simpósio de Mirmecologia: An International Ant Meeting" in Curitiba, Brazil. [October 2017]

Scott had an amazing trip to McGill Univeristy, to give a departmental seminar and talk castes with Prof. Ehab Abouheif and his lab. Great also to finally meet and chat with Prof. J-P Lessard of neighboring Concordia University. A truly fantastic few days of science, excellent company, and delicious food! [September 2017]

Our big field season in Brazil this year took us to wonderful new field sites in Serra do Cipó, Minas Gerais, and started great new collaborations with colleagues and new friends at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in the city of Belo Horizonte. Our team included Scott, postdoc Flávio Camarota, and PhD students Carol Peretz and Jignasha Rana. And of course, Scott's best field assistant. Great data for all, new undescribed turtle ant species, and very exciting new projects and collaborations planned for the future. We can't wait for next year! [July – August 2017]

Scott is heading down to Barro Colorado Island, Panama, to visit PhD student Aidan Manubay in the field. Much army ant fun awaits! [June 2017]

Scott had a fantastic time in Austin Texas collecting and discussing science with fellow PIs on our NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity grant. [May 2017]

Very proud of our undergraduate research students Corinne Tarantino and Sofia Nicholas for winner summer research fellowships! Sofia won a Harlan Summer Fellowship from the Department of Biological Sciences, while Corinne won a Luther Rice Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Lot's of fun summer research to come! [April 2017]

Scott gave an Entomology Seminar at the SI National Museum of Natural History. It is always fun to visit our neighbors and friends at the museum! [April 2017]

Another great trip to the FL Keys for work on Cephalotes varians. This year, Scott's best field assistant came along. [April 2017]

PhD student Aidan Manubay is off to a big field season on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. His work on prey selection and coexistence in army ants is really coming along nicely! [March 2017]

A warm welcome to Dr. Fred Larabee, a new postdoc in the lab! Fred is an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow and working on mandible and bite-force evolution in the fungus gardening ants. [January 2017]

Our new paper on co-occurrence patterns in arboreal ant communities is out now. We show that competition explains more about cooccurrence patterns than habitat characteristics in the cerrado. This work was led by postdoc Dr. Flávio Camarota. [December 2016]

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! [November 2016]

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! [October 2016]

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 Meeting in Austin in late July; 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! [April – August 2016]