University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Biology

Ph.D. Student - Andrew Nguyen

nguyen pic

Andrew Nguyen, Ph.D. Student

Contact Information
Email: Andrew Nguyen

Marsh Life Science Building, Rm 211
Phone: (802) 656-0451
Advisor: Nicholas Gotelli and Sara Helms Cahan

Research

I am broadly interested in phenotypic plasticity and evolutionary adaptation at the molecular level. Considering future climate change projections, organisms are expected to experience greater temperature stress. Ants, such as Aphaenogater rudis/picea are ideal organisms to study acclimation and adaptation to climate change because they span a large geographical range across the eastern United States in mesic forests. Thus, northern and southern populations experience different temperature regimes. Molecular mechanisms such as changes in gene expression (and consequently, protein expression) underlie the ability to acclimate and  adapt to climate change. In fact, one of the most evolutionary conserved responses to thermal stress is the heat shock response (HSR) and confers thermal tolerance through induction of heat shock proteins (HSPs). HSPs, also known as molecular chaperones, participate in binding, refolding denatured proteins, and prevent aggregations. I am currently investigating the molecular evolution of conserved HSPs in ants and their inducibility in response to thermal stress. I am also interested in the molecular underpinnings of social behavior. I hope to characterize the transcriptome between nest-workers and foragers in A. picea.