February 27, 2020

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU’s Connell Visiting Lecture Series Examines Brain Evolution of Insects March 5

Dr. Sean O'Donnell

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University will present its 38th annual Clyde Eugene Connell Visiting Lecture Series event at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, in Jennett Lecture Hall Room 1111. Admission is free of charge and open to the public.

VSU’s Clyde Eugene Connell Visiting Lecture Program and Department of Biology have invited Pennsylvania-based biologist and ecologist Dr. Sean O’Donnell to discuss “Brain Evolution in Social Insects: How Sociology and Body Size Shape Brain Architecture.”

O’Donnell is interim head of the Department of Biology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, where he also serves as a professor in the Department of Biology and Department of Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Science. He also serves as a research associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. He specializes in animal behavior, social insects, tropical ecology, thermal physiology, and neuroecology.

O’Donnell’s research in biology focuses on using social insects — ants, termites, and wasps — to address questions about population and behavioral genetics, thermal physiology and climate change, brain evolution and plasticity, colony behavior, and more. He has authored 130-plus peer-reviewed research publications and conducted research on an international level, including field research experiences in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Taiwan, Venezuela, and Israel. He has served as a subject matter expert in a wide range of popular media, including Discovery, CBS News, BBC Nature News, U.S. News and World Report, Patrick Stewart’s “Animal Superpowers” on National Geographic Wild, and Dominic Monaghan’s “Wild Things” on BBC America.

Prior to joining the Drexel University faculty in 2011, O’Donnell spent 15 years on the psychology — specifically animal behavior — faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle. He served as a rotating program officer at the National Science Foundation from 2007 to 2008. He holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, as well as a Master of Science in entomology and a Doctor of Philosophy in zoology and entomology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He completed his postdoctoral work at the University of California-Davis.

The Clyde Eugene Connell Visiting Lecture Series honors the legacy of Clyde Eugene Connell, who served the faculty, staff, and students of Valdosta State’s Department of Biology for more than two decades. He earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from Valdosta State College in 1954, returning in 1958, after earning a Master of Science in zoology from the University of Georgia, as a member of the faculty. He went on to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in biology from UGA, and in 1962 he was named department head, a position he held until his retirement in 1981. His contributions to the university, the community, higher education, and the field of biology have not been forgotten.

Contact VSU’s Department of Biology at (229) 333-5759 to learn more.

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