Many members of our lab group are pretty big on science communication, and needless to say I am no exception. I am a firm believer that science can, and should, be made accessible to people of all ages. With a bit of hard work we can get people to think differently about the world they inhabit and the organisms they share it with.
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We are a pair of undergraduate students working on our dissertation project in the Sumner Lab. For our project we decided to study the effects that agrochemicals can have on two native UK ant species. Non-target organisms can often become victims of exposure to agricultural chemicals, with the most studied example being the common honeybee (Apis mellifera) . Very little published research is currently available on the effects of agrochemicals on other non-target species .
Seirian is keeping busy with a series of seminars in UK universities in the next few weeks, where she is talking about the molecular basis of sociality. Find her at UCL, Swansea, Bath and Exeter.
We don’t only do social insect research. Seirian and collaborator Dr Nathalie Pettorelli at ZSL, London Zoo run a women in science public engagement initiative, Soapbox Science. We are currently recruiting a part-time events and media coordinator to help run Soapbox Science. More information here. Deadline is 20th November 2014.
Today our new, £60 million Life science building was officially opened by Sir David Attenborough, as reported here by ITV West.
We at the Sumner Group encounter this question a lot. Wasps are just useless, painful, and inexplicably determined to ruin your picnic, right? Actually, no! It turns out that wasps are surprisingly important in more ways than you might guess, and we’ve assembled a handy catalogue of reasons why. So next time we’re asked the infamous question by a passing spheksophobe, we’ll be ready with this checklist of reasons to love our flying relations… Your common garden
This summer both Seirian and Emily attended the International Union for the Study of Social Insects international conference in Cairns, Australia. The event was hosted in the Cairns Conference Centre next to the Great Barrier Reef and really was a stunning location. Social insect researchers from all over the globe gathered to present and discuss their science. Seirian and Emily successfully gave talks during the week addressing the use of genomics in understanding social evolution and caste plasticity in tropical
Today we welcome Patrick Kennedy and Sam Duckerin to the Sumner group! Patrick and Sam will spend the next 4 years investigating social evolution in tropical paper-wasps and the effects of pesticides on pollinators respectively.
Henry Ferguson-Gow, Seirian Sumner, Andrew F. G. Bourke and Kate E. Jones Division of labour is central to the ecological success of eusocial insects, yet the evolutionary factors driving increases in complexity in division of labour are little known. The size–complexity hypothesis proposes that, as larger colonies evolve, both non-reproductive and reproductive division of labour become more complex as workers and queens act to maximize inclusive fitness. Using a statistically robust phylogenetic comparative analysis of social and environmental traits
In an article published in PeerJ Peter Graystock shows how it is likely that the use of managed bees comes at a cost of increased parasites in wild bumblebees, which is not only a concern for bumblebee conservation, but which may impact other pollinators as well.