Insects have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. After finishing school, I followed my heart and studied zoology at the University of Vienna. During my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I worked with tropical butterflies and Austrian beetles, but my ongoing PhD project was what introduced me to the fascinating field of myrmecology. In 2014, I started working on a multidisciplinary and international WWTF project entitled “Voluntary self-sacrifice in exploding ants: a mechanism to defend coevolved microbiomes?” in which entomologists, chemists, and molecular biologists from Austria and Southeast Asia are investigating the ecology and evolution of the enigmatic “exploding ants” of the genus Colobopsis. I started out as a technical assistant on the project under the supervision of Herbert Zettel at the Natural History Museum Vienna. Before long, I had caught enough “ant fever” to start my dissertation on the topic of the exploding ants, which I am hoping to complete soon. Side-projects are of course nearly inevitable, so I also dabble in the taxonomy of the genera Diacamma, Myrmicaria, and Echinopla now and then, in addition to engaging in the management of the Austrian Entomologists’ Association. My main scientific interests include parasitology, evolutionary developmental biology, the morphology of specialized castes and – of course – reading and writing about science in general and the wonderful world of ants in particular.
If you have any questions or suggestion in general or related to the blog, please drop me a line: alice.laciny[at]nhm-wien.ac.at
Photograph: A longboat on the Temburong River in Brunei is taking me to the rainforest to sample some exploding ants! © Alexey Kopchinskiy, 2015