At the drop of a hat we will discuss with anyone the cool biology of parasites controlling animal behavior. Since zombies are so captivating and popular we see zombie behaviors in animals infected with parasites as a great way to communicate the elegance and beauty of natural selection and biological diversity. Also, since we work in highly endangered sites such as the Atlantic Rainforests of Brazil we see our outreach as way to bring increased attention to such places. Here a few things we do but you can just search google for zombie ants also.
Office Hours at the Hughes Lab
September of this year, we decided to start a project that would allow us to engage with the public directly. The idea powering this project, what we are calling "Office Hours", is essentially this:
on paper, science is peered-reviewed and comprehensive, and it has to be when it's goal is to contribute to the current body of knowledge; however, much of the public does not realize that the process to getting to a high-integrity, empirically-supported final product can be a bit more complicated than most think. Science is, at its core, the definition of the "cutting edge", and when you're in uncharted territory simply "knowing a lot of things" is not going to get you very far. Real science requires creativity and courage to test novel ideas, to power through the times when it seems that an answer can't be found. It involves a healthy mixture of ingenuity, troubleshooting and problem-solving. We want to give the public a front row seat to our science and a voice, an ability to ask questions about our work and any curiosities that pique their interests regarding scientific topics.
We will be posting videos to our YouTube channel every two weeks in effort to share intriguing behind-the-scenes science and answer questions provided to us by the online community.
Here's our first video for the channel, featuring our team, Penn State's incredible Millennium Science Building, and all of its faculty and staff who make every day at work seem like a day in which discovery is always possible:
David did a Quirks and Quarks piece and the audio is on this page and had a wonderful chat with the equally wonderful Desiree Schell. And also on National Geographic Radio with Boyd Matson and his silky smooth voice.
David has contributed to Rebecca L. Johnson excellent book Zombie makers: True stories of Nature's Undead. Really excellent book and highly recommended for grades 5-8 although David's son Jacopo who is a first grader adores it.
The Great Insect Fair
Over 11,000 children and their families attended PSU Dept. of Entomology's annual event in 2013, our lab's first year of attendance. The Zombie Ant booth was extremely popular! Click the link below to explore our photos of the event.