Lights hanging inside the O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center

Katie A. Miller and Kathryn Bell

Major: Biology
Topic: Does access to carbohydrates facilitate social communication in ants?
Faculty Mentor:

Dr. Adam D. Kay

Along with my partner Kathryn Bell, my research focuses on the effects of nutritional imbalances on ant biochemistry and behavior. This summer, we reared more than 80,000 ants on different diets with different ratios of protein versus carbohydrates. We are working on linking the nutritional ecology of ants to nestmate recognition, or the correct identification of ant colony members. To do this, we have performed a series of behavioral experiments and analyzed specific biochemical characteristics of the ants. This research is important because it focuses on linking the effects of nutrition on the physiology of ants which can influence how they interact with their environment through changes in behavior.

My favorite part of the project:

Watching the ants crawl in their little lines, following each other one after the other, towards the food that we put out. Ants are fascinating creatures to me.