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Alex Waugh

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
PhD Candidate

The Fire ant "social supergene"

In the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, two social forms exist in close proximity: one form has colonies with a single reproductive queen (monogyne) and one form has colonies with multiple reproductive queens (polygyne). Monogyne and polygyne fire ants are differentiated by a large region of inversions on the "social chromosome." This region contains hundreds of genes, but is referred to as a "supergene" because it is inherited essentially as a single unit and does not exchange genetic material with the noninverted form of the chromosome. Supergenes have been implicated in the origin and maintenance of alternative phenotypes in a growing number of animal taxa. I am interested in understanding how chromosomal rearrangements, such as inversions, influence complex traits through altered gene regulatory networks and protein evolution between distinct forms of a supergene. 

Longitudinal study of early-career biology instructor knowledge development:

We have overwhelming empirical evidence that demonstrates that evidence-based instruction that incorporates active-learning yields positive student outcomes such as retention in STEM, equity and inclusivity in the classroom, cultivation of scientific thinking skills, and learning of fundamental concepts in STEM disciplines. However, we also know that not all teachers implement active learning effectively. Through longitudinal study of teacher knowledge and practice development, my goal is to understand the knowledge and expertise that allows certain instructors to implement these evidence-based teaching practices effectively and ultimately achieve these enormous downstream benefits to students as they enter communities as human beings and the workforce as future STEM professionals.




Major Professor

Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor
Associate Professor in Entomology

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