I teach a range of Entomology courses at Cornell.
Alien Empire: Bizarre Biology of Bugs
Semester: even springs (co-taught with John Sanderson)
Insects are the most abundant and diverse animals on earth. This course explores the bizarre biology of insects and their interaction with humans. We will examine both the detrimental roles insects play (e.g., pests and vectors of disease) as well as their beneficial roles (e.g., pollination, edible insects, insect products such as waxes, dyes, and silk). Students taking the course for 2 credits (Entom 2010) will attend lectures on Monday and Wednesday. Students taking the course for 3 credits (Entom 2011) will meet once per week (on Friday) for smallgroup sections based on readings from the popular literature as well as short documentary films on insect biology. Additional interactive activities include a visit to the Museum of the Earth as well as a laboratory on insect diversity.
Insect Phylogeny and Evolution
Semester: odd falls (co-taught with Elizabeth Murray)
This course will provide a broad overview of insect diversity, morphology, phylogeny, evolution, and fossil history. Evolution of the insects will be discussed in light of real data sets based on morphology and/or DNA sequence data. Basic principles of phylogeny reconstruction using both morphological and DNA sequence data will be presented using published data sets. Analytical methods such as parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian methods will be discussed and compared. We will also cover how phylogenies are used to analyze evolutionary patterns, such as historical biogeography, coevolution, and host/parasite relationships.
Tropical Field Entomology
Semester: January intersession
This course provides students hands-on exposure to insect biodiversity, ecology, and behavior in a neotropical rainforest environment. Students will gain experience in insect sampling and survey methods, insect identification to the family level, insect natural history, experimental design and data collection in a field setting, basic statistics, interpretation and evaluation of scientific literature, and scientific writing. Course takes place over a two-week period in January and is held at the La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica.
Model-Based Phylogenetics and Hypothesis Testing
A variety of disciplines in biological research address questions that rely on a phylogenetic framework for hypothesis-testing, including the fields of ecology, epidemiology, behavior, physiology, evolution, and genomics. This course will provide an advanced undergraduate/graduate level introduction to model-based methods of phylogenetic analysis including maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods. The emphasis will be on DNA sequence data and issues associated with reconstructing phylogenetic trees from multiple gene loci. In addition, the course will cover how phylogenies can be used in the context of evolutionary hypothesis testing (including fossil-calibrated phylogenies, character mapping, detecting diversification rate shifts, ancestral state reconstruction, and historical biogeography) using rigorous statistical methods. The course will include a computer laboratory for performing analyses using real data sets. Beginning skills in R programming will be introduced, and students will build an independent dataset to analyze using the techniques introduced in class.