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 MS, PhD and postdoctoral positions. If you are motivated, independent, have research experience and are interested in pursuing a graduate 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 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. If you are interested in joining us as an undergrad, grad or postdoc, send me an email describing your academic interests and career goals.

Andrea Lucky
Dr. Andrea Lucky

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.

Graduate students

Jason Williams
Jason Williams (PhD candidate)

Email: | Follow: @JLWilliAnts

I am tangling with the taxonomy and systematics of the Prenolepis genus group: a speciose clade (>250 spp.) of formicine ants composed of seven genera with prominent members found in most of the world’s ant communities. Two of the genera-Nylanderia and Paratrechina-contain a few very widespread invasive species that have recently risen to infamy at the forefront of invasion biology research. While in the Lucky Lab I am performing revisionary work on the Nylanderia of Meso- and South America (approx. 60-70 spp.). This revision will facilitate future work in studying invasive species, especially the tawny crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva). The tawny crazy ant is native to South America and has recently invaded the United States through Texas and around the Gulf Coast. I also plan to address the phylogeography and population genetics of N. fulva in its invaded range in order to better understand its invasion. My goals are to track gene flow patterns, map out the path of invasion, establish when, where, and how many times introductions may have taken place, and determine possible factors facilitating its spread.

Leo Ohyama
Leo Ohyama (PhD student)

Email: | Follow: @OhyamaLeo

I’m interested in the ecology and biodiversity of ants (and other organisms!) as well as the abiotic or biotic mechanisms that influence this diversity at both local and regional scales. Right now I’m wrangling with potential research ideas that include: comparing functional diversity of ant communities in different strata (subterranean, aboveground etc.), integrating human trade volume to assess the current homogenization of ecological communities at a global scale, and other macroecological topics. I like incorporating anthropogenic parameters and their effects into my research framework given how much of a footprint we have come to make on the basic ecological mechanisms in community assembly (such as dispersal, extinctions etc.).

VR Seagal
Virginia-Rose (VR) Seagal (MS candidate)

Email: | Follow: @SeagalVr

My research is driven by an interest in ants, invasive species, and climate change effects on biodiversity. I am focusing on the invasive ant Wasmannia auropunctata, commonly known as the little fire ant. Native to Central and South America, this ant has made its way around the world via human-mediated dispersal and appears to be moving northward in Florida. I will be measuring the cold tolerance of this species and how it varies between lineages present in Florida. I am also interested to see how climate change will affect this species’ potential distribution in the southeastern US.

Undergraduate students

Lexie Nielsen
Lexie Nielsen

Environmental Science major

I’m studying environmental science and minoring in wildlife ecology and conservation. My interests include studying and controlling invasive species.

Ave Baurle
Ave Baurle

Food Science major

I am interested in the effects of the modern agricultural transport system on the spread of invasive ants. I am assisting with population surveys of pre- and post-eradication treatments for Wasmannia auropunctata.

Jacob Hornfeldt
Jacob Hornfeldt

Entomology major

I am interested in the behavior of social insects and how this can be important for conservation efforts. In the lab, I am helping out with the ongoing wasmannia eradication project. Twitter: @HornfeldtJacob

Brandon Mai
Brandon Mai

Nutritional Science major

Currently a nutritional science major aspiring to be a doctor. My interests include ecology and biological conservation.

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)
  • 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.