People

PI: Nate B Hardy

I study the diversity and evolutionary ecology of herbivorous insects, especially the ones that suck sap. For an overview of my research interests, see the Research summary page. For a list of my publications, check out my Google Scholar profile.

PhD student: Gwendolyn Bird

Gwendolyn tries to figure out just how important plants actually are to the evolution and ecology of herbivorous insects. She’s used meta-analysis to get a better view of how and when herbivorous insects actually compete for host plant resources.  She’s using a selection experiment to get a better sense for the role of niche generalization in the evolution of herbivorous insect diets. And she’s using path models to see if diet or other niche variables better explain spatial and phylogenetic patterns on herbivorous insect species richness.

MS student: Noah Bevers

Noah aims to use biodiversity science to improve agricultural sustainability. He’s looking at food webs for clues about what makes for effective natural regulation of herbivorous insect populations. And he’s going to be using machine learning to help farmers identify what ails their crops, and reduce their use of synthetic pesticides.

Former Student: MS Chloe Kaczvinsky

Chloe did a comparative phylogenetic analysis of butterflies to test predictions of the Escape and Radiation Hypothesis, that is, that herbivorous insect speciation is driven by antagonistic co-evolution with their host plants. She also used target-enriched genome sequencing to get a better estimate of the Nearctic phid phylogeny. (Which Gwendolyn will use in her research.) She is also interested in Science Policy! Chloe is doing her PhD at Oxford.

Former student: PhD. Ricki Hamilton

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For Ricki’s dissertation, she surveyed the biodiversity of hickory-phylloxerans, described a pile a of new species, and explored their phylogenetic history. These are cool aphid-like animals that induce galls on their hosts and are pretty common throughout the eastern US. Ricki now works for the USDA.

Former student: MS. Mayrolin GarcĂ­a Morales

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After finishing her MS, Mayrolin got herself an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Now she’s doing her PhD with Ben Normark at UMass. While she was in the Hardy Lab, she made ScaleNet new again.  And she tested some ideas about how natural enemies might drive species diversification in plant-eating insects (leafroller moths and scale insects).

Former student: MS. Nicholas Christodoulides

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Nick finished his MS in the summer of 2017. He is a lover of lizards, but we convinced him to do some work on bugs. For his thesis, he compared plant-eating insect transcriptomes (samples of all of the genes being expressed in a particular organism at a particular time) to learn something about how they are able to feed on many hosts. He also did some tinkering in the greenhouse to prepare us for experimental evolution studies. For his PhD, Nick is studying the evolutionary genetics of lizards at UCF.

Former visiting scholar: Linda Oforka

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In 2016, while Linda was doing her PhD at the University of Lagos, in Nigeria, she spent six months in the lab to delimit species in the Simulium damnosum complex, the black flies that transmit Onchocerciasis in West Africa. It was great having her with us, and we all miss her and wish her the best of luck!