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Fire ants: Amazing subterranean architects

- This talk is part of our continuing Young Researchers series. 
- Our Open Seating Policy will be in effect. 
- Look for us upstairs in the Wine Lounge.
- See below for parking information.
- Attendees will receive an email with an online form to order dinner items in advance. 

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Fire ants: Amazing subterranean architects  

Daria Monaenkova, Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Physics
Georgia Institute of Technology

I will discuss the principles underlying the construction of underground nests by red imported fire ants. Large underground nests are crucial for fire ant survival, providing protection from severe weather and predators. Although fire ant nests are found in all soil types in both North America and South America, the areas with excessive soil moisture as well as the dry areas seems to be less favorable for a colony foundation.

The Complex Rheology and Biomechanics Lab, also known as the Crab Lab, has used x-ray computed tomography to study the effect of soil moisture content on the growth and architecture of fire ants nests. Because strong cohesion in wet soils leads to the competition between tunnel stability and the labor-intensity of the excavation, we have found an optimal soil wetness, which allows the most effective nest construction. This presentation will address the influence of moisture content and particle size on nest geometry, excavation techniques employed by fire ants, and show in-progress work on social aspects of nest construction.

About Daria

Daria received her M.S. in Physics from Moscow State Aviation Technological University (Russia). In 2008 she joined the Micro- and Nanofluidic Research Laboratory at Clemson University as a research assistant and in 2012 she has successfully defended her PhD thesis in Material Science and Engineering there. That same year Daria accepted a Postdoctoral Fellow position at the School of Physics of Georgia Institute of Technology in the Complex Rheology and Biomechanics Lab.
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Parking and Such
Java Vino is located diagonally across the street from Manuel's Tavern. There is parking behind the building and on Williams Mill Road across the street. Manuel's reserves the use of their lots at all times, but parking there hasn't presented a problem for our guests so far.

Enter the cafe on the street level and let them know that your order will count toward our minimum order requirement.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Fascinating topic, but I had trouble hearing and understanding her.

    November 14, 2013

    • Marc M.

      Thanks for the feedback, Steve. As far as trouble hearing our speakers, in the future I'll insist on their using the microphone. (Speakers tend to be more confident in their ability to project than they should be.) Of coure, it's always nice if members of the audience can point out that they are having trouble hearing the speaker while the presentation is underway. Since I'm usually up front, it's hard for me to make this assessment. - Marc

      November 14, 2013

  • Kathy

    Fascinating lecture, incredibly well-presented with wonderful audio-visual aids. It never ceases to amaze me to discover the details and workings of micro-worlds that exist all around us in plain sight, and yet, largely invisible. I have a new respect for fire ants that has nothing to do with their potential to make me feel miserable!

    1 · November 14, 2013

  • michael h.

    Nice venue, interesting crowd.

    November 14, 2013

  • Bill E.

    Great presenter and very good audience; very good questions and good answers as well. Fire ants - ascinating. Who would have thought.

    November 13, 2013

  • Mike S.

    Who would have thought it?

    November 13, 2013

34 went

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