Lucky Lab members 2019

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

Interested in joining the Lucky Lab?

Contact me to find out more about undergrad, MS, PhD and postdoctoral positions. If you are motivated, independent, have research experience and are interested in pursuing a degree with a focus on ants, invasion, systematics, population genetics, biodiversity, citizen science or science education send an email with your CV, a description of your interests, and for prospective grad students – two references. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Diversity & Inclusion

The Lucky Lab position on diversity and inclusion: The Lucky lab values and fosters a diverse and inclusive community and we are proud to welcome members with a broad range of backgrounds, perspectives and ideas. Because of our strong commitment to promoting fact- and reason-based objective inquiry in this this lab environment, we unconditionally reject and denounce discrimination, bigotry and hateful rhetoric.

Lucky Lab members

Welcome to the Lucky Lab! Here’s a brief tour of who we are!


Andrea Lucky
Andrea Lucky, PhD

Email: | Follow: @Aluckymyrmex

I am an evolutionary biologist and biodiversity scientist with a focus on insects and invasion, and my training is specifically in the evolution of ants. The tools I use range from insect morphology to molecular genetics to phylogenetic statistics to micro-CT scanning. These tools allow me to answer questions about the relationships among different species of ants and the timing of diversification that have led to the distribution patterns we see today. In addition to my research interests, a major goal of my work is to make science accessible and available to the general public, particularly to make the process of ‘doing’ science accessible to non-scientists.

Lab manager

Ariel Berrean, BA


I’m a recent physics and math graduate returning to my old passions of ecology and entomology. My interests include ecological applications of data analysis and science outreach/communication. Currently, I am working with Leo Ohyama on a project concerning ant biodiversity in the southeastern US, along with planning future outreach projects and managing the Lucky Lab.


Jason Williams
Jason Williams, PhD

Email: | Follow: @JLWilliAnts

My research focus is ant systematics, biogeography, and taxonomy. I am currently resolving difficult taxonomic and evolutionary questions involving the global radiation of the ant genus Nylanderia, which includes over 123 described species across the globe and hundreds more unknown to science. Nylanderia are among the most common ants worldwide and more than a dozen species may threaten biodiversity, human productivity, and health as exotic or invasive pests. My training began with alpha taxonomy, museum collections-based research, and analysis of morphological data. I have since integrated other tools into my skillset, including genome-scale molecular phylogenetics, bioinformatics, and nano-computed tomography (nano-CT) to build three-dimensional models of specimens for geometric morphometric analysis.

Jason Williams
Maya Saar, PhD

Email: | Personal website: | Follow: @SaarMaya

I am a myrmecologist. I use different ant species to answer questions that fascinate me. I have interest in classic behavioral ecology of ants, I have touched aspects of their systematics, and currently I aim to study invasion history & develop novel genetic tools for the management of pest ants.
I am a TAU President postdoctoral fellow (2021-2023), and a formally BARD postdoctoral fellow (2020-2022).

​My current project: The little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) is an environmental and agricultural invasive pest on a global scale. This species was first documented in Florida and in the USA in 1924, and despite its long-established invasion, its population structure and invasion history have been poorly studied. Invasive populations of W. auropunctata are mainly supercolonial. It is not clear if Florida populations represent closely-related expansions of a single or of multiple supercolonies. Therefore, we are collecting W. auropunctata colonies throughout Florida, conducting behavioral essays and corresponding molecular analysis to better understand the distribution, social structure, and history of W. auropunctata, and to plan for its likely spread throughout the South-eastern USA. Understanding the history and status of W. auropunctata now, may also aid in preventing future introductions into USA.

Graduate students

Leo Ohyama
Leo Ohyama (PhD candidate)

Email: | Follow: @OhyamaLeo

I am an ecologist and ecoinformatician with a variety of research interests focusing across the themes of trait-based ecology, global biodiversity gradients, and the scaling properties of biodiversity. While I apply these themes to ants, I also work with a variety of taxa such as the world’s top 100 invasive species. I’m currently synthesizing and building a global traits database of all ant species to identify previously unknown hotspots of biodiversity and to identify the patterns and processes associated with global ant diversity gradients. I’m also interested in developing a more scalable conceptual framework in which to apply traits-based approaches in ant ecology (from species to assemblages).  On the side, I enjoy developing, teaching, and practicing data science and statistical methods.

VR Seagal
Virginia-Rose (VR) Seagal (Recently MSc graduated!)

Email: | Follow: @SeagalVr

My research is driven by an interest in ants and the effects of global change on biodiversity. For my thesis I used ecological niche modeling techniques to predict the potential distribution and future range shifts of the invasive little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) in the southeastern US. In addition to looking at the effects of climate change, I also incorporated human disturbance represented by human population density and distance to roads. In future work I am interested in using modeling and field work techniques to look at the impacts of various global change stressors on ant species interactions and distributions and guide management and conservation efforts.

Undergraduate students

Updates soon

Former Lucky Lab members

Postdocs and Graduate Students
  • Miles Zhang (Postdoc, 2018-2020)
  • Rachel Atchison (MS 2020)
  • Marian Lyman (MS 2018, Online)
  • Sedonia Steininger (MS 2015)
  • Tyler Vitone (MS 2015)
  • Lexie Nielsen
  • Ave Baurle
  • Jacob Hornfeldt
  • Brandon Mai
  • 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


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.