I study the evolution of social cooperation in animals. With collaborators, I developed the sweat bee Megalopta genalis into an emerging model system for the study of the evolution of social behavior. While I am continuing my work with Megalopta, I am also a using other bees to study the interface of ecology, behavior, and neural and hormonal regulation of behavior.
I have also expanded from looking at within-species behavioral variation to broader comparative approaches between species in order to test hypotheses linking brain evolution and social behavior. I use evolutionary transitions between social and solitary behavior to test whether sociality selects for brain enlargement to handle the challenges of group living, or, conversely, whether sharing tasks in a social group requires less investment in brain tissue; this research is funded by an NSF grant.
At GW, I teach Animal Behavior, Animal Behavior Lab, Insect Biology and graduate seminar in ecology. I have expanded enrollment in Animal Behavior from 24 when I began at GW to ~100 students currently. Insect biology consistently fills at 30 students.