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 their small fungus garden.) Specifically, 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 also develop useful analytical scripts for others studying behavior and nutritional physiology, using the open-source software program R. Find a link to this work here and in the Learn R section below. I aspire to conduct research and teach, as I believe the two activities complement each other; here is a link to my Teaching Philosophy (pdf).



Learn R


Research Methods

As a publicly-funded scientist, I feel it is my responsibility to make my research methods freely available to others. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are collections of research photos from my work with ants and crickets.