Meet Your Team

Rachel Atchison
Entomology Student

I am interested in how disturbance influences insect and plant community composition and interactions. I am also passionate about learning how to most effectively engage non-scientists in science.

Shimul Chowdhury
BFA, Art + Technology

I am a recent graduate of the Art+Technology program at UF. My work as an artist revolves around the current American political situation and Islamophobia from the perspective of a Muslim-American woman. I use a mix of traditional and digital media and methods to make my work, including 3D animation, embroidery, handmade paper, and sound mixing.

Jason Cochran
Computer Science Engineer - 3rd Year

I’m involved in multiple leadership and engineering groups on campus. I am the president of IA Serve, a leadership development and service organization. I currently work for the UF Clinical Translational Sciences Institute and Chemistry Department, where I write software to analyze organic compounds. I use my computer science skills to problem solve the technical 3D challenges encountered during the course of the Insects Alive project.

Ediel Dominguez

As a maker, designer, and artist I’m transfixed by ingenious designs and processes.My inspiration comes from architecture, automobiles, and abstract sculptures with clean and elegant lines. By using computerized based technologies such as, 3D printing, 3D scanning, laser cutting, and CNC milling I hope to communicate that the mind of an artist is as equally important as their hands.

Nathan Duerr
Zoology 3rd Year, Lucky Lab

I am studying zoology with a focus on insects, and I am particularly interested in the roles insects play in various ecosystems. I hope to apply this information to conservation work in the future.

Annie Gormaley
Biomedical Engineer - 2nd Year

I am is a web developer, artist, and research student for the Department of Radiation and Oncology. I am passionate about finding inspiration for my work in medicine, art, and technology.

Dr. Andrea Lucky
Entomology & Nematology

I am an evolutionary biologist and biodiversity scientist with a focus on insects, especially ants! My lab also works at the intersection of art and science.

Cara McDermott
Biology-4th year

I'm studying biology, but I am also deeply drawn to the arts. As a freelance trumpet player, I am heavily influenced to find the art forms within a science. I aim to display the beauty of the natural world around us in my work.

Dr. Lisa Taylor
Entomology & Nematology

I am a behavioral ecologist driven by a fascination with biodiversity. Much of the work in my lab aims to understand the extravagant and brilliantly colored displays that animals use to attract, impress, and deceive each other.


Amblyopone australis

Amblyopone australis, a native to Oceania, is a member of the group commonly called the Dracula Ants. Adult Dracula Ants use their sharp mandibles to pierce the flesh of their soft bodied, developing young and drink their hemolymph (insect blood) for sustenance. This doesn’t kill the young; in fact it is the only way the adults eat! The adults hunt other arthropods to feed their young, which can eat solid food. The adults depend on the liquid blood of their babies for sustenance. These ants live in relatively small colonies of less than 2,000 individuals, and are typically found in rotten logs.

Camponotus caesar

Camponotus caesar is a member of the carpenter ant genus found in Africa. This is one the largest and most diverse ant genera in the world! As the name suggests, these large ants are adept woodworkers which often nest in logs and dead trees, though some species are also known to nest in soil. Colonies typically consist of a single queen, several thousand minor workers, and a smaller number of larger soldiers, or majors. While they cannot sting, they can spray formic acid in defense. Their powerful mouthparts are equally adept for biting attackers, taking food back to the nest, and for gently tending larvae in the nest.

Dorylus siafu

The African driver ant, Dorylus siafu, is one of the most conspicuous insects in Africa. A single colony of these ants can contain around 20 million workers. Driver ants are most notable for the daily swarm raids they conduct—hundreds of thousands of workers will swarm along the ground and low vegetation in search of prey. The largest ants will stand guard on the edge of the superhighway, using their massive mandibles to fend off potential predators from the rest of the workers. Tens of thousands of prey items, mostly insects, are killed and consumed each day by a single colony.

Leptomyrmex fragilis

Leptomyrmex fragilis is a slender, orange ant commonly found in New Guinea’s warm, humid rainforest. Due to their spindly legs and spidery gait, these ants are sometimes mistaken for spiders and are known as “spider ants.” Nests are typically found in soil or logs and contain small colonies consisting of several hundred workers and a single queen. When large sources of food are found and obtained, some workers will serve as storage devices and continue to accept food until their bodies are swollen, at which point they will remain in the nest like living larders, dispensing food as needed.

Polyrachis sp.

This ant, a member of the genus Polyrhacis, is commonly known as the fishhook ant due to the large hook structure on its back. The exact purpose of this structure is unknown, but possible explanations include defense against predators and extra locations for muscle attachments. Nests, containing thousands of workers and a single queen, are constructed by binding pieces of plant debris with a yellowish-brown silk into a carton-like protective material. These ants are found in the rainforests of Southeast Asia and Oceania, where they nest in trees.

Aphaenogaster lamellidens

A native to the Southeastern United States, this ant species plays an important role in the forest ecosystem as a generalist predator, hunting and scavenging other insects and arthropods. Ants in this genus are also important for actively dispersing plant seeds. Many plants on the forest floor benefit from this behavior, and encourage ants to gather their seeds by providing attractive and nutritious food bodies just for ants. Aphaenogaster lamellidens can commonly be found nesting in logs within wooded areas, but colonies can thrive in captivity as well, making them a useful species for laboratory study or ant farm hobbyists. Colonies of Aphaenogaster lamellidens can be fairly large, with up to several thousand workers.



Jumping spiders in the genus Habronattus are most well-known for the elaborate songs and dances of males. Male courtship displays consist of flamboyant color patterns and movements paired with substrate-borne vibrations. Females are drab in color, are larger than males, and are fierce and cannibalistic predators. The males must provide an impressive courtship display, or risk getting attacked and eaten by the female. These spiders have amazing eyesight including color vision that allows them to see colors ranging from ultraviolet to red. In the photo above, the male (right) is displaying his colors for the female (left). She appears unimpressed.

Phidippus regius

Phidippus regius, the regal jumping spider, is one of the largest species of jumping spider and is quite common in fields and open woodlands in Florida. Males are black with white markings and brilliant green iridescent chelicerae (jaws). Females range in color from gray to vibrant orange, with iridescent pink/orange jaws. As in other jumping spiders, males engage in elaborate courtship dances for females.

Anasaitis canosa

Anasaitis canosa, or the twin-flagged jumping spider, is one of the most common jumping spiders encountered in Gainesville – they are common in leaf litter, on buildings, and even inside houses. They get their name from the two bright white markings (or ‘flags’) on their pedipalps which they constantly wave around. The most fascinating thing about this species is that they specialize on eating ants. While they are ferocious predators that will eat almost anything, they have a special attack move for ants: they align themselves just right and then leap onto the ant biting them at the back of the head or thorax (so the ant can neither sting nor bite them). They would be terrifying creatures, except that they are only about 5 mm long. (Photo credit: David Hill).

Spitting spiders

Spitting spiders (family Scytodidae) have a unique strategy for catching prey: they spit sticky glue at it from a safe distance. Once the prey is pinned down with glue, the spider moves in it to kill and eat it. Spitting spiders have unusual dome-shaped heads to accommodate the large glands that produce and store their glue. Despite being fierce predators, female spitting spiders are great moms – they carry their egg sacs under their bodies until they hatch and (in some species) the mother and babies live together until they can hunt on their own. (Photo credit: Andre Karwath)

Green lynx spiders

Green lynx spiders (Peucetia viridans, Family Oxyopidae) get their name from their catlike hunting behavior (and probably their cute catlike faces too). These spiders are relatively large (almost an inch long), with long, slender, spiny legs. They are very common in gardens and farms and they eat almost anything, making them an excellent source of natural pest control. Their colors range from vivid green to orange and they can slowly change color to match their background – this camouflage likely makes it easier to ambush their prey unexpectedly. (Photo credit: Tedd Greenwald)




Fusion 3 F306 3D printer
(Available at the Marston Science Library)

The Fusion 3 has an impressive print volume that can produce large parts up to 12″x12″x12″ (1 cubic foot) or many smaller parts at one time. The Fusion 3 is able to print at high speeds (250mm/sec) with a feature tolerance of ±0.003” per inch.

GE phoenix v|tome|x m

The GE phoenix v|tome|x m which includes a 300 kV microfocus X-ray tube composes the nanoCT reconstruction system used to scan ants and spiders for the 3D models. The nanoCT system can detect detail beyond 1μm (1x10-3 mm) and allows for the internal as well as the exterior structures of the ants and spiders to be reconstructed with exceptional detail.

UF Creative Campus