Dr. Phillip BardeN
Assistant Professor – New Jersey Institute of Technology as of Fall 2017
I am fundamentally motivated by questions related to the ecological success, diversity, and behavior of social insects such as ants and termites. To approach these questions from novel perspectives, I like to bring together multiple techniques and disciplines such as paleontology, systematics, X-ray imaging, genomics, and fieldwork, working with both living and extinct species.
Because ants in particular have a rich fossil history – with over 750 described species spanning 100 million years – I often work to utilize this tremendous resource. In particular, I am excited about working with amber fossils, which preserve entombed specimens with high fidelity. Important first steps in answering any evolutionary question remain describing biodiversity, reconstructing relationships among organisms, and further detailing their evolutionary history (i.e. biogeography and divergence date estimation). It turns out that it is an exciting time to engage in this work! New imaging techniques such as X-ray based CT-scanning improves our ability to understand living and fossil species, and so contribute significantly to this process.
At the same time, the cost of molecular (DNA) sequencing has decreased rapidly, which has made it possible to collect and compare genomic data for many species. This new wealth of molecular data is a great opportunity to test how we might ask questions about the relationship between phenotypic and genomic observations, spanning multiple lineages and hundreds of millions of years.
In short, I am passionate about organismal biology, specifically social insects, and work to see what fossils, genomes, X-rays, and fieldwork can tell us about some of nature's greatest success stories. [CV]