Folks in our lab know their organisms, know their theory, and combine field and lab studies to answer questions that obsess us. We work all over the world, but have a real fondness for tropical rainforests. We have a helluva lot of fun doing so.
PI: Mike Kaspari
Mike grew up in Lincoln Nebraska, where he earned his undergraduate and master’s degree studying with Tony Joern at the University of Nebraska, and his Ph. D. with Michael Rosenzweig at the University of Arizona. After post docs in at UT Austin, U. Guelph, and the Lawrence Livermore Lab, he joined the University of Oklahoma. His early interests in the behavioral ecology of grassland birds gave way to myrmecology when he visited the tropics in 1988, and to geographical, or macroecology of brown food webs as he traveled the New World studying ants. In his spare time Mike likes to spend time in the kitchen and garden, play guitar (with a particular fondness for the Beatles) and absorb books and magazines. CV Google Scholar
Ph. D Student: Karl Roeder
Karl is from Houston, Texas. He graduated with a BS and MS in Entomology from Texas A&M University. During his time there he studied how food macronutrient content affected various performance measurements in a generalist caterpillar. Currently as a PhD student, he is interested in exploring how nutrition and respiration influence body size to shape the diversity of complex leaf litter communities. Outside of the lab, he enjoys hiking, traveling, and going to the movies. Google Scholar
Ph. D Student: Jane Lucas
Jane grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she attended St. Thomas University for her BA in Biology. As an undergraduate she explored with the Kaspari lab how Azteca ants linked above and below ground ecosystems. Her current focus incorporates microbial biology into the lab’s study of leaf litter and soil systems. She is currently examining the role of antibiotic compounds in soil ecosystems and the influence they have on microbial and invertebrate community structure. When not in the field, she is most likely playing and coaching with the OU women’s ultimate team or catching up on the current Oscar nominated films.
Ph. D Student: Jelena Bujan
Jelena grew up in Rijeka, Croatia. She graduated from the University of Zagreb with an MSc degree in biology and chemistry. For her thesis she studied the effect of habitat reduction on Croatian peatland ants. She was one of the founders of the Croatian Myrmecological Society, an NGO which studies ants and educates the general public about their importance. In 2011, after spending a year teaching biology and chemistry in a middle school in Zagreb, she started a PhD program at OU. At the Kaspari lab she studies the effects of nutrients in shaping ant communities and ant body chemistry. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, baking and reading Russian realists.
Ph. D Student: Rebecca Prather
Rebecca is from Boerne, Texas. She graduated with a BS in Biology with honors from George Washington University. While there she studied mechanisms of coexistence within Temnothorax by looking at niche partitioning as well as inter- and intraspecific competition. Rebecca is working in the lab of Dr. Michael Kaspari. Her current interests include tropical ecology and the effects of habitat complexity on arthropod performance and distribution.
Post Doc: Michael Weiser
Michael D. Weiser is a native of St. Joseph, Missouri. He did undergraduate work at the University of Kansas, where he studied the population genetics of harvester ants and the University of Oklahoma, where he studied ant community ecology. His MS research focused on ant ecological morphology. He earned his Ph. D. at the University of Arizona focusing on the biogeographic-scale patterns of diversity of plants and mammals and postdoctoral work at North Carolina State on ant biogeography. Mike returned to Oklahoma to help coordinate the MacroSystems project. He is a devoted father, has an understated sense of humor, and is an excellent cook and guitar player.
Post Doc: Ellen Welti
Ellen Welti is from Manhattan, Kansas. She graduated from Kansas State University with BAs in Biology and History. She continued at Kansas State University, earning her PhD in Biology in Dr. Tony Joern’s lab, where she studied ecological networks of plant-herbivore and plant-pollinator interactions. Her work at the Kaspari lab focuses on the role of sodium and other nutrients in shaping ant communities and grassland foodwebs. Her spare time activities include watercoloring, listening to podcasts, and reading short stories.