Rebecca Clark

Welcome! I study the physiology and ecology of nutrition in insects, primarily using two insect species, the field cricket Gryllus firmus, and the desert leafcutter ant Acromyrmex versicolor. (To the right of my photo, you can see three leafcutter ant queens preparing leaves to feed to their small fungus garden.) In particular, I seek to understand (1) how nutritional regulation affects growth and physiological allocation (i.e. how do different nutrients get to different parts of the body?); and (2) how nutrition and behavior interact to drive the function and growth of complex social groups. For example, how do those ant queens balance their foraging efforts vs. tending their young, to grow a new leafcutter colony? You can read more about both lines of work in my research statement (pdf).

I am also working to develop useful analytical scripts for others who are studying behavior and nutritional physiology, using the open-source software program R. Some links to this work are in the Resources section towards the bottom of the page. I aspire to conduct research and teach, as I believe the two activities complement each other; you can find a link to my Teaching Philosophy below, too.