What Do Bees, Ants, and Dragonflies Get up to All Day?


Bugs are everywhere: in every corner of the world, even the Artic. But of the estimated 10 million species of bugs worldwide, only a million have been studied or described. Given the increasing rate of extinction, can scientists hope to learn about them all? What do bugs do all day? Where do they live? How do they communicate? This episode explores:

  • How Dr. Jessica Ware became a curator and professor at the American Museum of Natural History.
  • Dr. Ware’s travels around the world, to study bugs in their habitats.
  • Why she’s passionate about encouraging minoritized persons to go into science.
  • Ways to decolonize knowledge and materials.
  • Tips for science communication.
  • The graduate school at the American Museum of Natural History.
  • A discussion of the book Bugs (A Day in the Life).

Today’s book is: Bugs (A Day in the Life), by Dr. Jessica L. Ware, which is set over a 24-hour period, and explores the work and communities of bugs like honey bees, leafcutter ants, and dragonflies; it is illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat.

Our guest is: Dr. Jessica L. Ware, director of the Ware Lab, and Associate Curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. Her research focuses on the evolution of behavioral and physiological adaptations in insects, with an emphasis on how these occur in Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) and Dictyoptera (termites, cockroaches and mantises). Her research group focuses on phylogenetics/phylogenomics and uses these tools to inform their work on reproductive, social and flight behaviors in insects. She was an NSF postdoctoral fellow, is the president of The Worldwide Dragonfly Association, and is a board member of the Entomological Society of America. She was awarded a PECASE medal from the US government for her work on insect evolution, and is the author of Bugs (A Day in the Life).

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, a historian of women and gender.

Listeners to this episode may be interested in:

Welcome to The Academic Life! Join us here each week, to learn from experts inside and outside the academy, and embrace the broad definition of what it means to lead an academic life.

Your Host

Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
View Profile