Andrea Lucky

Lucky Lab 2019: (Back row from L) Miles Zhang, Rachel Atchison, James Pinkney, Jacob Hornfeldt, Lexie Nielsen, Jason Williams. (Front row from L) Keara Clancy, Ave Bauerle, Andrea Lucky, Brandon Mai

Welcome to the Lucky Lab! Here’s a brief tour of who we are. If you are interested in joining us as an undergrad, grad or postdoc, send me an email ( describing your academic interests and career goals. 


Miles Zhang (PhD)

Broadly I am interested in the phylogenetic relationship and drivers of speciation in Hymenoptera. Currently I am using ultraconserved elements (UCEs) to generate genomic level data to: 1) Delimit species complexes within Nylanderia, and 2) Build a time-calibrated phylogeny of Nylanderia. I will also be investigating the utility of UCEs for both deep and shallow phylogenetic inference and assessment of diversification rates/time within Nylanderia.

As my MSc and PhD both focused on parasitic Hymenoptera, I will also be doing​ taxonomic and phylogenetics work on the oak/rose gall wasps and their associated parasitoids.​

Graduate Students:

Jason Williams (PhD candidate)

I am tangling with the taxonomy and systematics of the Prenolepis genus group: a speciose clade (>250 spp.) of formicine ants composed of seven genera with prominent members found in most of the world’s ant communities. Two of the genera-Nylanderia and Paratrechina-contain a few very widespread invasive species that have recently risen to infamy at the forefront of invasion biology research. While in the Lucky Lab I am performing revisionary work on the Nylanderia of Meso- and South America (approx. 60-70 spp.). This revision will facilitate future work in studying invasive species, especially the tawny crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva). The tawny crazy ant is native to South America and has recently invaded the United States through Texas and around the Gulf Coast. I also plan to address the phylogeography and population genetics of N. fulva in its invaded range in order to better understand its invasion. My goals are to track gene flow patterns, map out the path of invasion, establish when, where, and how many times introductions may have taken place, and determine possible factors facilitating its spread.

Rachel Atchison (MS candidate)

My research interests are two-fold:
1) How disturbance shapes plant-insect interactions. I am interested in how disturbances such as prescribed fire, invasion by exotic species, subsequent management of invasive species, and urbanization influence community composition and the interactions within communities. Currently, I am investigating how frequency of prescribed fire influences the dynamics of ant-mediated seed dispersal in longleaf pine forests.
2) Increasing scientific literacy through involvement in citizen science. I would like to provide more non-scientists with opportunities to engage in the scientific process. Part of my graduate research will be evaluating the impacts of participation in science, either through citizen science or other creative venues, on science perception and literacy.



James Pinkney, Biology major

My research interests are in conservation biology, ecology, and science communication. I’m also interested in studying the relationship between people and the environment, and how the two impact one another. In the lab, I assist with processing School of Ants samples and an ongoing eradication of Wasmannia auropunctata here on campus.

Lexie Nielsen, Environmental Science major
I’m studying environmental science and minoring in wildlife ecology and conservation. My interests include studying and controlling invasive species.

Keara Clancy, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation major and Entomology minor

I am interested in insect interactions within an ecological context. In the Lucky Lab, I assist with the School of Ants Citizen Science Project. I am an advocate for increasing scientific communication, so I partake in outreach through the lab and as the Vice-President of Natural Resources Diversity Initiative (NRDI) at UF.

Ave Baurle, Food Science major
I am interested in the effects of the modern agricultural transport system on the spread of invasive ants, specifically Wasmannia auropunctata which was found in the Field and Fork Gardens. I am assisting on the population surveys pre- and post-eradication treatments for this ant species.

Jacob Hornfeldt, Entomology major

I am interested in the behavior of social insects and how this can be important for conservation efforts, though I am still exploring and refining my research interests. In the lab, I am helping out with the ongoing wasmannia eradication project.

Brandon Mai, Nutritional Science major.
Currently a nutritional science major aspiring to be a doctor. My interests include ecology and biological conservation.


Former Lucky Lab Members:

Lab photo Oct 2015
Michelle, Josh, Andrew and Gabe found an amphisbaenid, the Florida Worm Lizard (Rhineura floridana), while digging up a colony of Odontomachus brunneus trapjaw ants.

Sedonia Steininger (MS 2015)
Tyler Vitone (MS 2015)
Marian Lyman (MS 2018, Online)


Kathy Arguez
Andrew Nisip
Michelle Dunbar
Evan Waite
Sage Thompson
Wes Inman
Sam Hagman
Kerrie Durham
Amanda Anderson
Ashley Egelie
Genevieve Comeau
Walter Winn
Nathan Duerr
Constance Darrisaw
Emily Cabán
Cassandra Doll
Gabe Somarriba
Katie Carroll
Sara Alvarez

Madeline Job (2014-2015)
Brielle Jenkins (2015-2016)

The Insects Alive 3-D Insects-in-Art team (2016-2017):
Shimul Chowdhry
Jason Cochran
Ediel Dominguez
Annie Gormaley

Joshua Hildebrandt, Anthropology Major & Entomology Minor
We lost Josh in September, 2016. He was a friend, a mentor, and a bright light to all of us. He is missed and remembered.