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DeWayne Shoemaker

Professor and Department Head, Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Tennessee

A central concern to evolutionary biology is understanding the evolutionary, ecological, and historical processes responsible for the patterns of diversity observed in nature. One main goal of my research is to contribute to this understanding. My research program largely focuses on functional, population, and evolutionary genomics studies of fire ants (genus Solenopsis). Fire ants, especially the invasive species Solenopsis invicta, already are considered an ideal model for evolutionary and ecological studies given their pest status and the wealth of existing background information on their biology and natural history, including detailed understanding of the population genetics in their native and introduced ranges. As a result of the development and availability of new genomic resources and our continuing efforts, fire ants quickly are becoming a social insect model system (along with honey bees) for functional, ecological, and evolutionary genomic studies. An additional significant component of my research focuses on using these population genomic data and approaches to address more applied questions, which ultimately are aimed at the development of biologically based, environmentally safe strategies to manage fire ants (as well as other invasive ants and emerging pests). Thus, for my research program now I employ tools of molecular biology, population genetics and functional genomics to address basic evolutionary questions using fire ants as a model system as well as apply these to address fundamental issues or questions in biological control or population suppression of fire ants.


  • –present
    Professor and Department Head, Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Tennessee