Jessica Purcell
Assistant Professor
Department of Entomology
University of California, Riverside

Jessica Purcell

I am fascinated by the evolution of many diverse and unique social systems in a wide range of organisms. In my research, I take advantage of natural variation in social behavior to try to understand the selective pressures that favor different social strategies. These differences may occur along altitudinal and latitudinal gradients, as in the social and subsocial Anelosimus spiders that I studied as a PhD student, or they may occur within a single habitat or even within a single population, as in the socially polymorphic Formica selysi ants that I investigated as a postdoc. In particular, I have identified and manipulated ecological factors that may influence social structure in both organisms. These factors include rainfall and predator abundance in the tropical Anelosimus spiders, and the frequency of floods and susceptibility to pathogens in the temperate Formica ants.

Academic Background

Ph.D. Dept. of Zoology, University of British Columbia; Supervisor: Leticia Avil├ęs. 8/04 - 4/09
B.A. Biology and History, Williams College; cum laude, with honors in Biology. 9/98 - 6/02


7/15 - present. Assistant Professor Dept. of Entomology, University of California, Riverside.

1/10 - 5/15. Postdoc Dept. of Ecology & Evolution, U. of Lausanne; Supervisor: Michel Chapuisat.

6/09 - 12/09. Lecturer and Postdoc Dept. of Zoology, University of British Columbia.

1/05 - 6/09 Teaching Assistant Dept. of Zoology, University of British Columbia.

9/03 - 7/04 Research Intern Theoretical Ecology Dept., Lund University; Supervisor: Anders Brodin.

jessica J. Purcell CV 2020.pdf