Cicadas, Ants, and Fish Inspire Research Projects

Brood X cicadas, ants’ feeding behaviors, and fish sold as red snapper at local markets inspired authentic research projects by students in Dr. Kerry O’Brien’s fall 2021 Advanced Biology Research Seminar. Their work, presented as scientific posters, is on display in the Science Wing of the True-Lucas Building. Click here to read the posters.
Cicadas, Ants, and Fish Inspire Research Projects
Three of the projects focused on cicadas that were collected during the emergence of Brood X:

Yhuin Ong ’22 and Alexander von Kumberg ’22Yhuin Ong ’22 and Alexander von Kumberg ’22 studied Phylogenetic Analysis of Magicicada Species in the DMV Area extracted DNA from cicadas and used DNA barcoding technology to determine the exact Magicicada species types that were prevalent during the brood’s existence.

Tendai Ball ’22 [Eddie Miller ’22 (NCS) not pictured]Tendai Ball ’22 and Eddie Miller ’22 (NCS) examined The Correlation Between Sex and Body Size in Magicicada Species and found that female cicada head width is larger than male cicada head width.

Dinu Danciu-Burdescu ’24
Dinu Danciu-Burdescu
’24, in his Study on the Presence of Wolbachia in Cicadas, sought to determine whether the cicadas were infected with Wolbachia pipientis (an intracellular bacteria that has efficiently infected 40% to 60% of insect species on Earth and is best known for its astonishing ability to manipulate insects’ reproductive systems).  Dinu found that none of the cicadas were Wolbachia-infected. 
Other projects focused on humidity and ants and the red snapper available at local markets: 

Eddie Cavallin ’22Eddie Cavallin ’22, in The Effect of Humidity on Harvester Ants’ Feeding Behavior, tested how adding humidity to a Pogonomyrmex barbatus ant farm will affect the rate of foraging in an ant population. He did not find a significant difference between the ants foraging in the high versus normal humidity conditions. Eddie plans to continue work on this project as an Independent Study in the fourth quarter with Dr. O’Brien.

Sascha Hume ’23 and Micah Nkrumah-Ardayfio ’23

Micah Nkrumah-Ardayfio ’23 and Sascha Hume ’23, in their Analysis of Veracity of Marketing Labels of Red Snapper explored whether fish sold at local markets and stores are actually the species of fish they are labeled as. They focused on red snapper and found that not all locally sold red snapper is actually red snapper!
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