Andrea Lucky

Lucky Lab 2019: (Back row from L) Lexie Nielsen, Jacob Hornfeldt, Jason Williams, Leo Ohyama, Miles Zhang, Rachel Atchison. (Front row from L) Keara Clancy, Virginia-Rose Seagal, Andrea Lucky, Ave Bauerle, 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 evolutionary relationships and drivers of speciation in Hymenoptera. Currently I am using ultraconserved elements (UCEs) to examine the phylogenomics of rose gall wasps (Cynipidae: Diplolepis) and oak gall parasitoids (Eurytomidae: Sycophila).​ I am also working on population genomics (ddRADseq) and phylogenomics (UCEs) of invasive ants. 

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.

                                                                                                                                     Leo Ohyama (PhD student)
                                                                                                                                                I’m interested in the ecology and biodiversity of ants (and other organisms!) as well as the abiotic or biotic mechanisms that influence this diversity at both local and regional scales. Right now I’m wrangling with potential research ideas that include: comparing functional diversity of ant communities in different strata (subterranean, aboveground etc.), integrating human trade volume to assess the current homogenization of ecological communities at a global scale, and other macroecological topics. I like incorporating anthropogenic parameters and their effects into my research framework given how much of a footprint we have come to make on the basic ecological mechanisms in community assembly (such as dispersal, extinctions etc.).

                                                                                                                          Virginia-Rose (VR) Seagal (MS candidate)                                                                                                                                                                                              My research is driven by an interest in ants, invasive species, and climate change effects on biodiversity. I am focusing on the invasive ant Wasmannia auropunctata, commonly known as the little fire ant. Native to Central and South America, this ant has made its way around the world via human-mediated dispersal and appears to be moving northward in Florida. I will be measuring the cold tolerance of this species and how it varies between lineages present in Florida. I am also interested to see how climate change will affect this species’ potential distribution in the southeastern US.


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.

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.

Lucky Lab 2018: (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

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
James Pinkney
Keara Clancy


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.