Sean O'Donnell, Ph.D.
Interim Department Head of Biology (2019-2020)
Professor of Biodiversity Earth & Environmental Science (BEES) and Biology
Papadakis Integrated Science Building, room 321, 3245 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19104 USA
Tropical Field Studies course in Ecuador
Winter break (December) 2020
**Revised winter break plan Course intinerary
This unique field study course gives students hands-on experience in the ecology of tropical rain forests. Tropical Field Studies will explore the physical and biological factors that result in the formation of these forests, and their impressively high biodiversity. We will be based in a global biodiversity hot-spot in eastern Ecuador (Amazon basin), and at two higher-elevation cloud forest lodges in the Andes mountains. Students will explore some of the key animal and plant players in diverse ecosystems and their complex interactions. We will also consider the effect of human impacts on these forests, and how development processes affect local communities. Teaching methods will include faculty and guest lectures by local experts, immersive hands-on field teaching modules, and group field projects.
132 peer-reviewed research publications
GoogleScholar metrics (1 July 2020) 4819 citations
H-index 37, i-10 index 88
Research Gate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sean_Odonnell4
Total Researchgate Interest 97th percentile
O'Donnell lab news
Ginny Caponera passed her qualifying exam and advanced to PhD candidacy.
Sean was a panelist for a public discussion of the film, 'Serengeti Rules', sponsered by the Philly Envitonmental Film Festival & Academy of Natural Sciences.
Karmi Oxman and Katie Fiocca presented in the Drexel Office of Global Engagements 5th Annual International Research Showcase.
Karmi Oxman was interviewed about decoding Philadelphia honey bee waggle dances in Great Lakes Echo
Sean gave an Invited keynote talk in the Young Scientist's Symposium on Climate Change, Institute of Science and Technology (IST), Austria (remote, via Zoom).
Lab member research grants and fellowships:
Ginny Caponera was awarded a grant from the American Arachnological Society
Meghan Barrett and Katie Fiocca will collaborate on paper wasp research funded by the Bob & Louise Jeanne award from the NAS/IUSSI
Meghan Barrett was awarded a PEO Scholar Award, and an Animal Behavior Society Research Grant
Karmi Oxman Recveived a Drexel Global Engagement Funding Award for a presentation and field research in Israel
Awards and honors:
Katie Fiocca 2019-2020 Continuing Excellence in Teaching Assistance Award
Meghan Barrett 2020 Drexel Scholars Share Best Presentation Award
See my Youtube video postings! Search for MrEciton
Research summaryResearch in the O'Donnell lab addresses questions at multiple levels of biological organization (individuals, social groups, and ecological assemblages) and across levels of causation (genetics, organismal and social physiology, nervous system development and plasticity, and the evolution of brains and behavior). Much of our work involves a strong field component; recent tropical field research sites include Costa Rica, Ecuador, Israel and Taiwan. The lab uses a diverse array of social insects (army ants, paper wasps) and Neotropical birds as study organisms. Ongoing projects include:
Neurobiology and behavior- comparative analyses of brain evolution in arthropods; social insect caste differences in brain development
Thermal physiology of social insects- species and population differences in temperature tolerances across landscapes; individual differences within social groups; group-level thermoregulation
Ecology & behavior of mixed-species foraging groups- species differences in bird attendance of army ant raids; social and ecological interactions among birds at shared resources
Population genetics of the army ant Eciton burchellii, examining gene flow and landscape effects
Thermal and sensory physiology in alternative-tactic mating systems (Meghan Barrett, Ph.D. research)
Nutritional physiology and chemical signalling in social insects (Katherine Fiocca, Ph.D. research)
Human- and mammal-safe insect control- testing effectiveness of the polyalcohol sweetener erythritol as an ingested insecticide in social and solitary insects
Mathematical models of communication and division of labor in organized biological systems
Web page designed and produced by Sean O'Donnell