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

Mari West

As a PhD student in the Entomology Department here at UCR, with a passion for insects and the outdoors, I am interested in studying the evolution and genomics of social behavior. My previous entomological work has focused on an aggressive and cannibalistic social spider (Delena cancerides) as an undergraduate at Cornell University and the control and eradication of an extremely cooperative and super-colonial invasive ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) as a US Fish and Wildlife Service Volunteer. Studying two social arthropods with such contrasting strategies piqued my interest in the spectrum of sociality, and I’m excited to explore this spectrum using the socially polymorphic ant genus Formica as a model while a member of the Purcell Lab. The questions that drive my research interests are what and how genes give rise to social behaviors and which ecological factors determine which social strategies are adaptive.

Academic Background

B.S. Animal Science with honors, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Ithaca, NY. in Animal Science, 8/2010 – 5/2014

Thesis: Colony inheritance and fights to the death among sisters in the social huntsman spider, Delena cancerides (in prep.)

Research Experience

Research Assistant, Biodiversity Research Institute Loon Chick Relocation Project, MN 8/2015 – 9/2015

Volunteer, US Fish and Wildlife Service Crazy Ant Strike Team, Johnston Atoll NWR, 11/2014 – 6/2015

Research Assistant, Biodiversity Research Institute Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, NY, 5/2014 – 10/2014

Undergraduate Researcher, Dr. Linda S. Rayor Spider Lab, Cornell University, NY, 1/2012 – 5/2014

Research Assistant, Christine Goodale Soil Lab, Cornell University, NY, 1/2013 – 5/2014

Research Assistant, The Loon Project, WI, 5/2013 – 8/2013