Areas of Interest
How cognition evolved is still not understood. Specifically, it is unknown whether selection may have acted upon one type of cognition to then improve cognition generally or solely that one type of cognition. Much research into this has focused on two key selective pressures: social behavior and ecology. Some believe that each pressure acted to improve general cognition, but much work has shown general and specific cognitive improvements as a result of those pressures. I’m interested in manipulating social and ecological effects to test how and why Polistes fuscatus paper wasps then vary in their cognition. To pursue this, I use a combination of behavioral and genetic assays to measure cognition and measure differences in gene activation in the brain.