Jess Vickruck spent a lot of time collecting insects as a kid growing up in Vineland.
Now, she’s spending even more time and travelling thousands of miles to research cryptic species of carpenter bees as a PhD student in Brock’s Biological Sciences program.
“Cryptic species look identical or nearly identical to another species. They often remain unstudied for that reason,” said Vickruck, who is among six Brock graduate students to receive research funding for 2010-2011 from the Ontario Graduate Scholarships in Science and Technology (OGSST) awards program.
“I have always been a bug nerd,” Vickruck said. “Being able to study them as a part of my graduate research has been fantastic.”
Her doctoral work is supervised by Prof. Miriam Richards, who is recognized around the world for her research into the social and ecological attributes of bees.
Vickruck’s thesis work will involve collecting specimens from Ontario to Florida to investigate the nesting biology of cryptic species across their ranges. Her OGSST application highlighted the contribution of her research in the broader field of entomology.
“Jess’s research has been noted by entomologists at other universities and at the Biosystematics Research Centre in Ottawa,” Richards said. “Her work has provided both the behavioural information and field techniques to embark on a series of behavioural experiments aimed at investigating how solitary species can become social, one of the most important questions in evolutionary biology.”
The Ontario Graduate Scholarships in Science and Technology (OGSST) awards program is a partnership between the province and universities to invest in excellence in graduate student research in science and technology.
The other Brock graduate students to be recognized with OGSST funding for 2010-11 are doctoral candidates Isabella Ludwa, Rebecca MacPherson and Gregory McGarr, all in Applied Health Sciences; and master’s candidates Tyler Weaver, Applied Health Sciences; and Steven Bergen, Computer Science.