Caroline Williams, Principal Investigator
I did my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the Department of Zoology at the University of Otago in Dunedin (New Zealand). I then lived in Japan and Malaysia for several years, teaching English as a second language and working on a science literacy magazine and natural history documentaries. I did my PhD in the Department of Biology at Western University in London, Ontario (Canada) in the lab of Brent Sinclair. In 2012, I moved to Florida to start my postdoctoral research in Dan Hahn’s lab in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida, Gainesville (USA). I am fascinated by how insects and other ectotherms maintain metabolism and performance in fluctuating environments.
I completed my Bachelor’s in Bio-Psychology at Tufts University (Boston), and earned my PhD studying nutrient regulation and growth in leafcutter ants in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University with Jennifer Fewell. I then moved to Texas to pursue postdoctoral research on nutrient regulation in crickets, first with Spence Behmer in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University and subsequently with Tony Zera at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I am interested in how food nutrient content influences insect behavior and physiology, and how this in turn influences life-history evolution.
Prior to coming to UC Berkeley, I completed my Bachelors in Biology at Bucknell University and my Masters at Illinois State University. My previous research has focused on investigating how oxidative stress, a potential consequence of physiological changes, is related to the environment. For example, the primary aim of my Masters was to determine how temperature fluctuations during incubation influenced early-life oxidative stress of turtles. Currently the focus of my planned dissertation work is on the role of changes in energy efficiency in trade-offs and life history evolution.
I did both my Bachelor’s and Master’s at Sonoma State University with Nathan Rank, examining how central metabolic genes vary among populations of the willow beetle Chrysomella aeneicollis inhabiting thermally variable localities across latitude and elevation. I joined the Williams lab in Fall 2015 where I am continuing my work on willow beetles. I am interested in how environment can influence population-level genetic composition and how that variation allows populations to persist through time.
Varun is a third-year student at UC Berkeley, and is in his second year working as an undergraduate researcher in the Williams Lab. His current project involves using respirometry to examine the metabolic physiology of Chrysomela aeneicollis (the Sierra Nevada willow-leaf beetle) in response to extended cold shock. He intends to pursue a graduate degree in the physiological sciences, focusing his efforts on researching the pathophysiology of obesity and other metabolic disease states.
Annie Sompayrac, Undergraduate researcher
Jessica is a third-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley, working towards her B.A. in Integrative Biology. She plans to attend medical school in the near future, with the ultimate goal of working in Family Medicine or Pediatrics. Since joining the Williams Lab in Fall 2015, Jessica has developed a newfound passion for all the crickets, beetles, and ectotherms the world has to offer.
I am a third-year undergraduate student working towards a degree in Conservation and Resource Studies at UC Berkeley. I am interested in environmental change and its impact on species development. In the Williams Lab, I am working with Lisa Treidel to better understand life-history trade offs and local adaptation. Eventually, I plan to attend medical school and specialize in reproductive health medicine.