People
Jacob Russell Drexel Biology Ants

Jacob A. Russell, Ph.D


Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Drexel University
2007-present

Training and Education:
BS Molecular Genetics, University of Rochester, 1999
Ph.D Ecology and Evolution, University of Arizona, 2004
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University, 2005-2006
Green Memorial Fund Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University, 2006-2007

Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information:
phone: 215-895-1643
fax: 215-895-1273
e-mail: Jacob.A.Russell@drexel.edu

Drew Smith

Drew Smith

Graduate Student
Department of Biology
Drexel University
2010-present

Training and Education:
Cornell University, BS, 1997
University of Maryland, MS, 2002

Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information:
phone: 215-895-4978
fax: 215-895-1273
e-mail: drewsmith@willowcreekorchards.com


Research Interests:

I am interested in the ecology and evolution of symbiosis within insect populations. My current research aims to understand what drives seasonal dynamics of pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, defensive symbionts in natural populations and the ecological impacts of a diverse microbiome. This work has consisted of seasonal sampling of pea aphids and their natural enemies over two geographic regions and two host plants. My research has incorporated a blend of field sampling and controlled field experiments with laboratory work using molecular techniques. Although we see correlations with symbiont frequencies and natural enemy mortality in some populations, this is not always consistent across geographic regions, host plant and over two years. This suggests that multiple factors, in addition to natural enemies, play important roles in shaping symbiont frequencies in the wild. Field cage experiments are underway to understand the contribution of parasitoid wasps in shaping Hamiltonella defensa-phage frequencies on alfalfa, Medicago sativa.
Yi Hu

Yi Hu

Ph.D candidate
Department of Biology
Drexel University
2009-present

Training and Education:
Beijing Normal University, BS, 2006
Beijing Normal University, MS, 2009

Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information:
phone: 215-895-4978
fax: 215-895-1273
e-mail: yh332@drexel.edu


Research Interests:

I am interested in the evolution of symbiosis in insects, especially ants. Ants are extraordinarily abundant in arthropod communities of tropical rain-forest canopies. Studies of the trophic level of ants using stable isotopes have shown that many of these canopy-dwelling ants have herbivorous diets. However, it is not understood how ants can reach this abundance, given their extensive consumption of nitrogen-poor food sources. Recently, several studies have identified symbiotic gut bacteria of "herbivorous ants", which are known or hypothesized to supplement their nitrogen-poor diets. These findings have led to the hypothesis that bacterial symbiosis promoted convergent evolution of herbivory across the ants, enabling them to colonize and dominate nutritionally deficient canopy habitats. By using experimental, and molecular techniques, I aim to investigate the composition, diversity and stability of the bacterial communities in the guts of ants, along with their roles in host nutrition, thereby addressing the roles of symbiotic bacteria in evolution of ant trophic level.
Danielle Rock

Danielle Rock

MS Student
Department of Biology
Drexel University
2013-present

Training and Education:
The Pennsylvania State University, BS, 2009

Contact Information:
phone: 215-895-4978
fax: 215-895-1273
e-mail: dir5007@gmail.com


Research Interests:

I am interested in evolution, specifically the role symbiotic relationships play in evolutionary trends. My current research involves studying the transmission dynamics of symbionts in pea aphids under natural conditions. I am interested in aphids with naturally occurring bacterial infections especially aphids with multiple infections, and am researching these through field sampling, lab rearing, and extensive PCR screening.
Narayan Wong

Narayan Wong

Graduate Student
Department of Biology
Drexel University
August 2013-present

Training and Education:
University of Rochester, BS, 2012

Contact Information:
phone: 215-895-4978
fax: 215-895-1273
e-mail: nhw24@drexel.edu


Research Interests:

I am currently a second year graduate student in the Russell lab. I am interested in studying how the fungal entomopathogen Pandora neoaphidis can influence endosymbiont-driven evolution of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum. I am currently focused on domesticating P. neoaphidis from local fields, as well as using sequencing based approaches to characterize its genetic diversity.
Brooke Deal

Brooke Deal

Undergraduate Researcher
Department of Biology
Drexel University
2014-present

Contact Information:
phone: 215-895-4978
fax: 215-895-1273


Research Interests:

I am currently a Sophomore Biology student here at Drexel University and have a concentration in Pathobiology. I work with Drew Smith on two aphid projects: one project involves assessment of seasonal change in pea aphid symbiont frequencies in relation to natural enemy pressures, while the second is a controlled field experiment measuring parasitoid impacts of symbiont spread under natural conditions. The second project assesses two Hamiltonella defensa-phage (the symbionts responsible for parasitoid defense) combinations to understand their importance. My responsibilities include general up keep of the plants and aphid communities along with DNA extractions, polymerase chain reactions, gel electrophoresis, and microsatellite typing.
Ari Yamaguchi

Ari Yamaguchi

Undergraduate Researcher
Department of Biology
Drexel University
2014-present

Contact Information:
phone: 215-895-4978
fax: 215-895-1273


Research Interests:

I am entering my pre-junior year as a biology major with a concentration in Evolution/Ecology/Paleobiology. I have been working with Drew Smith on a project that measures changes in pea aphid symbiont frequencies in natural populations over time and in association to mortality from key natural enemies. My work mainly consists of DNA extraction, PCRs, and gel electrophoresis. I intend to pursue a career in either environmental science and sustainability or animal conservation.
Mason Hall

Mason Hall

Lab Volunteer
Department of Biology
Drexel University
2014-present

Contact Information:
phone: 215-895-4978
fax: 215-895-1273


Research Interests:

I am currently a student at The Haverford School in Haverford, Pennsylvania. I became an intern at the Russell Lab in late June, and am finishing up in time for the school year. I will be a senior in high school this fall, with a course load focused on math and science. This summer I am working with graduate student Narayan Wong in the study of the aphid-infecting fungal pathogen Pandora neoaphidus. My work mainly consists of DNA extractions, maintaining fungal subcultures, making PCR's, performing gel electrophoresis machine, and curing aphids of bacterial symbionts with antibiotics.
Karen Sullam

Karen Sullam


Ph.D candidate
2007-2014
Piotr Łukasik

Piotr Łukasik


Postdoctoral Researcher
2011-2014
Justin Newton

Justin Newton


Undergraduate Researcher
2013-2014
Coleman Kotzer

Coleman Kotzer


Undergraduate Researcher
2013-2014
Garret Mayo

Garret Mayo


Undergraduate Researcher
2011-2014
Steven Doll

Steven Doll


Undergraduate Researcher
2011-2014
Barrett Wagner

Barrett Wagner

Andrea Messina


Undergraduate Researcher
2012-2013

Michaela Feeney


Undergraduate Researcher
2012

Kiran Jagtiani


Lab Volunteer
2012

Drew Mcquade


Undergraduate Researcher
2010-2012

Amanda Lee


Undergraduate Researcher
2012

Nicholas Jensen


Undergraduate Researcher
2012

Rachael Disciullo


Undergraduate Researcher
2011-2012
Rachael is now a graduate student working with Alexandra Basolo at University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Paige Collings


Undergraduate Researcher
2011-2012

Linh Chau


Undergraduate Researcher / Research Technician
2010-2012
Linh is now a graduate student in the Goodisman Lab at Georgia Tech.

Riddhi Amin


Undergraduate Researcher
2011-2012

Julie Keppler


Undergraduate Researcher
2011-2012

Mickey Drott


Undergraduate Researcher / Lab Volunteer
2010-2012
Mickey is now a graduate student at Cornell University

Ioannis Anastopoulos


Undergraduate Researcher
2010-2011

Tyler Maruca


Undergraduate Researcher
2010-2011

Matthew Novin


Undergraduate Researcher
2010-2011

Nick Tuttle


Undergraduate Researcher
2010-2011
Nick is now a Ph.D student with Paul Jensen at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography

Mariya Osipchuk


Undergraduate Researcher
2010-2011

Andrew Nguyen


Lab Volunteer
2009-2010
Andrew is now a Ph.D student with Nick Gottelli and Sara Helms Cahan at the University of Vermont

Colin Funaro


Research Technician
2008-2010
Colin is now a graduate student in the Vargo Lab

Michael Giampapa


Undergraduate Resercher
2008-2010

Rachana Koya


Undergraduate Resercher
2007-2008

Nisha Shah


Undergraduate Resercher
2007-2008

Uma Bandu


Undergraduate Resercher
2007-2008

David Suh


Undergraduate Resercher
2007-2008