Evolution of army ants and their kin
My dissertation research at UC Davis focused on building a taxonomic and phylogenetic framework for the research on army ant evolution. Although army ants include very charismatic species, they belong to a larger group, the subfamily Dorylinae. In addition to the army ants, dorylines comprise many cryptic ants whose biology and even taxonomy have been neglected. Partly as a result of this, even phylogenetic relationships of the army ants are not well-understood. The first step to advancing evolutionary research in the group was thus to examine the morphological diversity within this lineage. This resulted in a generic revision of the subfamily, published open-access in ZooKeys. Expertise gained during this work allowed me to design robust taxon sampling for a phylogeny of the dorylines based on next-generation sequencing data (ultraconserved elements or UCEs), currently available as a pre-print on bioRxiv.
I am interested in developing tools that facilitate wrangling and analysis of genomic data in phylogenetics. A series of companion R scripts published along one of my papers allow other researchers to manipulate and extract information from trees and alignments. I also wrote AMAS (Alignment Manipulation And Summary), a program for fast and convenient handling of very large alignments. I am also working on a workflow that allows extraction of protein-coding sequences from UCEs. For more check out my GitHub profile.
Side-projects I was involved in in graduate school included a collaboration on the first transcriptome-based phylogeny of ants, bees, and wasps, and investigation of deep metazoan phylogeny using whole-genome data.
As an undergraduate student in Wroclaw, Poland I was a keen insect collector and published several notes on faunistics, taxonomy, and natural history.