Joe Sapp – Graduate Fellow 2011-12

JSappWhen I was in high school, our biology teacher offered a class where we made insect collections. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to study the diversity of life. Though I’ve explored many directions around that theme, I am happy to say that in my doctoral work I have been drawn back to my early fascination with entomology. I now study “slave-making” ants that attack other ant nests by stealing young. Stolen young grow up to work in their captors’ nest, never realizing that they have been stolen! I want to understand how slave-makers compete for these stolen ants.

I feel that understanding how interactions like this work is a crucial part of conserving species. As predators, scavengers, and nutrient cyclers, ants are foundational members of virtually all terrestrial ecosystems, and the slave-makers I study are endangered.

I am excited to transfer my passion and curiosity about the insect world and its importance to all life to students at Watsonville High School this year. I feel I am paying back the passion given to me by my high school biology teacher many years ago.JoeSapp_Poster2011_thumb

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