Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Associate, Cornell University

I am a behavioral ecologist who studies sociality in arachnids. I teach courses on Spider Biology, Insect Behavior, and on how to do effective scientific outreach.
I am the world specialist on the behavior of huntsman spiders. Evolution of sociality must involve adaptive benefits to offset the costs of living closely with competitors, especially among potentially cannibalistic predators such as spiders. These adaptations may involve behavioral, ecological, and physiological strategies for living in groups. There are three social Australian huntsman species (two of which I have discovered) that have evolved social dynamics unlike any other social species known. The huntsman spiders have a world-wide distribution, are a ubiquitous presence in Australia and Latin America, and turn out to have incredibly interesting physiology and behavior. The group has been a gold-mine for research comparing the behavior, whole-organism performance, metabolism, and development of closely related social and solitary species. To better understand the dynamics of these differences, a colleague and I recently published the first molecular phylogeny of the Sparassids.

Experience

  • –present
    Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Associate, Cornell University