- PhD, 2008
I believe in providing an atmosphere for teaching, growth, and enrichment beyond just the textbook and coursework. I give students something they can apply beyond the classroom, which I accomplish by trying to reach each student individually. As a mentor, I get to know students for who they are and learn about the particulars of his or her background. Without knowledge of who a person is and where they come from there is no way to determine what they really need as an individual. The bond that develops between mentor and student is vital to the development of a student’s personal goals. I find that that bond grows strongest during independent research, as the research process stimulates students to invest directly in their education and their future. When they make that type of investment their potential is unlimited.
My research involves sexual selection, behavioral and chemical ecology using Estigmene acrea, the salt marsh caterpillar. I use Estigmene as a model organism to focus on the interface of behavior and developmental biology. Currently, I have been investigating the relationship between pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), compounds derived from plants, and its effect on development of the coremata (an androconial organ) and sexual selection. The research suggests that PAs have a morphogenetic effect on the development of the coremata as well as a behavioral effect on the propensity to inflate the organ and initiate leks. PAs may influence this behavior by having a direct affect on the brain of the developing adult. More importantly the PAs offer protection to the salt marsh moth and its offspring, and thus influence the control and regulation of sexual selection.
Advised Student Research
- Is the Parental Investment of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids a Sufficient Enough Dose to generate the morphogenetic effect on the male coremata? By Federico Ruiz-Nicoli
Abstracts and Recent Publications (* undergraduate)
Jordan, A. and W. Conner. In Press. Dietary Basis for Developmental Plasticity of an Androconial Structure in the Salt Marsh Moth Estigmene acrea (Drury)(Lepidoptera: Arctiidae). Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society.
Jordan, A., T. Jones and W. Conner. 2005. If you’ve got it, flaunt it: Ingested alkaloids affect corematal display behavior in the SALT marsh moth, Estigmene acrea. Journal of Insect Science, 5,1.