Jessica Purcell
Assistant Professor
Department of Entomology
Universidad de California, Riverside


Social behaviors have evolved in a wide range of taxa, from bacteria to slime molds and from insects to mammals. This repeated and parallel evolutionary transition raises key questions about how sociality evolves. Natural variation in social traits within or among species  provides an ideal opportunity to understand factors that contribute to the emergence of different social systems. In my research, I seek the proximate and ultimate drivers of social organization.  I have pursued these interests by integrating population genomics, field ecology, manipulative experiments in the lab and in the field, and individual-based modeling approaches.  My primary study organisms have been social spiders from the genus Anelosimus and socially polymorphic ants from the genus Formica.