I am a student and find the work of the AntLab important, intriguing, and life affirming. How do I join?

Check out our opportunities page. I was lucky enough to be welcomed as a freshman into the lab of Tony Joern at the University of Nebraska back in 1979. We welcome undergraduates in the AntLab, and can at present pay a stipend of $6.50-7.00/hour. They sort insects, enter data, and generally participate in the nuts and bolts of a biodiversity lab. Some carve out a project of their own for their undergrad thesis.  Some have even published! AntLab volunteers have gone onto medical school, Grad School, the Oklahoma City Zoo.

My grad students have worked on insect ecology and evolutionary biology. I enjoy collaborating with them, but ultimately they choose their own projects.  Our collection of New World ants, tropical litter invertebrates, and Oklahoma grassland insects provides ample opportunities for museum-based research. That said, folks who enjoy fieldwork tend to gravitate to the AntLab.

How in the world does someone end up devoting a good portion of his or her life to studying ants?

When I was a kid, hanging out after class at St. John's Catholic School, I would catch grasshoppers and watch ants.  There was a big colony of (what I know now was) Formica neogagates group that I used to feed bits of bread soaked in sugar water just to see what would happen.  I then went through an ornithology phase, first at the University of Nebraska working on grassland bird ecology, and then well into my Ph. D. program at the University of Arizona, where I went to study overwintering flocks of sparrows.

I threw myself into the desert finch flock work and began to learn all there was to learn about little brown birds (lbb's).  Since this was winter work, and since I always wanted to see the tropics, I took an OTS course in the summer of 1988. The Organization for Tropical Studies drags your butt all around Costa Rica with about 20 other like-minded graduate students and a bunch of tropical biologists who, more likely than not, were OTS alumni themselves.

  OTS changed my life. I found I could learn more about an ant community in a day than I could learn about a bird community in a year.  Much of my Ph. D. thesis ended up studying how a tropical ground ant community in Costa Rica treated the seeds dispersed by gaudy tropical birds (that's Doug Levey, who I shared an office with at La Selva).  

I have worked on ants ever since. If ants intrigue you, consider taking the AntCourse 2003, taught at the Southwest Research Station near Portal Arizona.

How does a committed Husker fan live in Sooner country?

Well, first, notice that I put this question well down the page. 

       I root for the Sooners, a fine and exciting team, every game they play except when they play the Huskers.  Luckily this won't happen for another two years, given the brilliant scheduling minds in the Big 12 front office.  But if a Nebraska Boy was going to wind up anywhere, best that it be in Sooner Country, because some of the best games I can remember have been between the Sooners and Huskers. This doesn't make listening to Boomer Sooner on the University's call-waiting system (!) any easier however.

Who is the lady at the top of the page?

That is Exam Lady, bearer of the keys of all knowledge tested, maven of multiple choice, queen of essay excellence.  To her there is there no sweeter question than "Will this be on the exam?" Her word carries great weight in my Intro Zoo course.

For Exam Lady knows.

Author: Mike Kaspari
Last Updated: 9Dec2004:

This page was built with support from the National Science Foundation



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