On the twenty-second of April, a crew of science enthusiasts from the society gathered at the gates of The Rockefeller University, one of the oldest biomedical research institutes in the country. The purpose: to learn about the newest tool for understanding the biology of societies- comparative sociogenomics. Although most of the research at The Rockefeller University falls within the traditional bounds of biomedical studies, e.g. immunology, cancer biology, etc., the Laboratory of Insect Social Evolution is taking a very different approach. Using cutting edge genomics, neuroscience, evolutionary studies, and quantitative behavioral analysis we are trying to understand how one insect, the clonal raider ant Cerapachys biroi, functions socially. We hope to apply the biological insights from in-depth analysis of this ant to answering general questions about how social living evolves, what is necessary for society formation, and what are the biological challenges of social living. The society members gathered outside the university gates were about to see how this research was done.
We toured the ant rooms, where two different species of ants are housed- C. biroi and their food, the red fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Tourees got to use the dissecting scope to observe C. biroi behavior, as see all the latest tools being used in molecular biology today. We discussed general ant biology, as well as the specific biology of C. biroi. A great time was had by all, and much learned about the most abundant of the macroscopic animals- the ants.
See our gallery for more photos.